Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Keet Seel Ruins

Ruins - the remains of something destroyed. Ruins isn't an apt description of Keet Seel. About 700 years ago the last of the occupants arranged things neatly, sealed the doors, locked the village and left but never returned.

I took 320 photos during our hike and tour. Below are a few but I'm omitted photos that show small details. I've been to Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde, Walnut Canyon, Wupatki and other well known sites. This is the best. The only experience that can compare is visiting a small remote site that isn't managed by a park service and is generally known only to locals.

We met a few people on the hike and at the campground. Tomorrow, I want to tell about two of them.

Keet Seel from the campground.
Keet Seel as seen from our campsite. (Larger version)

Keet Seel.
This view shows most but not all of Keet Seel. The spring, turkey pens, tower and route to the top of the cliff are hidden. (Larger version)

Ladder to Keet Seel.
This 70 feet ladder provides access and crosses some of the faint steps cut into the sandstone by the Ancestral Puebloan people. (Larger version)

View from Keet Seel.
The view looking out from Keet Seel. It must have been wonderful waking to this scene each morning. (Larger version)

Northeast Keet Seel.
The northeast section of the village showing one of the three streets. (Larger version)

The log that locks the Pueblo.
Archaeologists were puzzled by this log until they asked the Hopi. It's the lock that communicated the people has left but may return. Note the precarious granary behind and below the log. (Larger version)

Another view of northeast Keet Seel.
Another view looking northeast. (Larger version)

Southwest Keet Seel.
Looking southwest. (Larger version)

The overhang that protects the village.
The overhang that protects the village. In the winter the morning sun warms the buildings. In the summer the overhang provides shade. (Larger version)

Ranger and visitors.
In the foreground is Max who gave us a tour. He does this multiple times per day with humor, knowledge and zeal. He is Navajo and used the term 'we' when talking about the differences in native cultures. He did a fantastic job. (Larger version)


Blogger Tim Hodgens said...


Thanks for the tour. It brings to mind a visit my wife and I had when we went to Montazeuma's Castle. At first I thought we would stay all of about 5 or 10 minutes, but the more we looked and grocked out the area the more we were drawn in. Stayed for about 2 hours.

A question. Do you know what the function of the logs that go through through the pueblos is? Is it for structural integrity, or for hanging things?

Also, no termites or ants in that neighborhood?


10/14/2009 04:57:00 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Tim, the retaining wall in front of the village has logs placed horizontal that strengthen the wall and keep it from bowing out due to the backfill behind it. As you would expect the stone buildings have protruding wooden poles that support the roof. Some of the rooms were built out of a style call jacal that included a vertical pole in each corner. But, I think the poles you're noticing are the tall poles that seem to have no obvious structural purpose. There are two theories. First, flags or pennants identifying the clans were flown from the poles. From what I learned this is guess work. The second theory is that these were perches for macaws. There is ample physical evidence that Ancestral Puebloans in the four corners area traded with peoples in Mexico. Macaw feathers were found around these poles.

It appears the environment changed and the people left in search of a better location. No all left at the same time. The last to leave converted some rooms into granaries. They spread corn on the floors to dry in case they had to return because they couldn't find those who left first or find a more hospitable area to farm. They sealed the rooms in two ways, either using stone and mud mortar or placing a flat piece of sandstone over the doorway. I assumed it was to prevent entry to rodents however the ranger said more than once that it as to keep out insects.

It was fascinating to see 700 year old corn cobs, logs, ash, shells and other objects that hadn't decayed.

(Interestingly, I've been on my property for over 5 years and it's littered with dried cow manure that doesn't seem to change or decay. The environment is too dry. We have very little problem with bugs other than during a short period in summer when darkling beetles appear.)

10/14/2009 08:29:00 PM  

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