uestions about the Mesa Verde region’s early inhabitants, known as Ancestral Puebloans, have captured the attention of the general public and scientists alike since the cliff dwellings were “discovered” by cowboys Richard Wetherill and Charles Mason on December 18, 1888.
Why did the Ancestral Puebloans leave their carefully constructed cliff dwellings? Was the area completely abandoned or later used again?
There are 284 tree-ring dates from the 1270s, indicating that construction and repair activities were in full force at a dozen cliff dwellings within the region that now comprises the park.
In stark contrast, however, there are only five tree-ring dates from the 1280s, indicating that construction and repair activities were almost nonexistent at Mesa Verde during that decade.
Eventually, he was able to safely push the tree over onto the ground.
Although they did so in part because of the great drought, it is also clear that existing social, political, and religious challenges created “push” factors that induced them to leave.
In addition, social, political, and religious factors “pulled” them to new areas in the Rio Grande Valley and elsewhere in the American Southwest.
n the fall of 1282, a young carpenter went to his favorite stand of juniper trees in southwestern Colorado.
That stand contained a large number of tall trees that could be fashioned into construction beams, but it also had spiritual significance as part of a sacred landscape. is stone ax was made of a river cobble that he had painstakingly shaped into an ax head and, with a bit of pine pitch, hafted to a wooden handle of bent willow branches and sinew.