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Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument




Location: Catron County, NM  Map

Info: (575) 536- 9461

Open: May- Sep: 8am- 6pm

mid- Sep- mid-May: 9am- 4pm

Closed: Jan 1, Dec 25

Official site




Description of Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument is located in Catron County, New Mexico in United States.  Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument covers an area of 533 acres (216 ha) and protects former settlement of the mysterious Anasazi tribes that disappeared without a trace. Unfortunately much of Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument was looted by the people before any serious scientific research was carried out. Only mummy of a child named "Zeke" ever made to Smithsonian in 1912.




History of the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

The members of the Mogollon culture settled in the area of ​​today's Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument from about the end of the 1st century. The Mogollon was a sedentary people who created their livelihood through hunting, gathering, and growing grain and beans. The earliest structure to have been found in the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument is a so-called pit house, the construction of which is was in its infancy. The structure was located in open ground, was circular and characterized by the fact that the floor was below the surrounding soil level. Already at this time, the Mogollon made simple pottery. In the period around the year 1000, the Mogollon built rectangular structures, which were built in contrast to previous objects completely above the ground level. The majority of these objects were solid masonry structures, only a small part still consisted of braided branches. Characteristic for this epoch was the production of white pottery with black elements.


From about the 13th century began in the area of ​​today's national monument to the Mogollon the Pueblo era. Although there are remnants of classical Pueblo construction in the park, the Cliff Dwellings are the central settlement of the time. These caves are also the namesake and main attraction of the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. Five large caves, high in the rocks of a side canyon of the West Fork Gila River, formed the natural basis for the construction of these impressive structures. In total, about 40 rooms were created in these caves. The walls of the buildings were made of stones from the immediate vicinity, the wood used was dated to the period around the year 1270.

It is estimated that about 10 to 15 families used these structures for about a generation. Little is known about the end of Mogollon culture. The residents left the Cliff Dwellings back in the early 14th century. Why they left and where they are is still the subject of discussion. A generally accepted theory is that they mingled with other pueblo peoples of the American Southwest and thus ceased to exist as an independent culture.


Monument exhibits and services

A museum and visitors center is located at the monument near the TJ Ruins. The visitor center is jointly operated by the U.S. Forest Service, and the National Park Service. The Museum hosts exhibits of Apache and Mogollon artifacts, uncovered both in the surrounding wilderness, and at the Monument. Displayed items include a bracelet crafted from Glycymeris (shells) Bittersweet clam shell. Believed to have been brought via trade from the Gulf of California, to Snaketown (an ancient village on the right bank of the Gila River on the modern-day Gila River Indian Community south of the village of Ahwatukee), the shell eventually was etched and drilled by Hohokam artisans. The bracelet is believed then to have made its way up the Gila River from Arizona to the Gila river community, again, by way of trade.

Other nearby attractions include hot springs, associated ruins sites, national forest hiking trails and fishing along the Gila River and in the Gila Wilderness.




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