Sunday, December 7, 2014

Casa Grande National Monument, Arizona

This national monument is an ancient pueblo built in the 1300s and inhabited for about 100 years. The Sonora Desert people farmed the land, creating irrigation ditches throughout the area to direct the flow from the Gila River to their farmlands. They had little equipment and used sticks and their hands, they didn't have any equipment, horses or other animals to help. Historians believe they left because heavy rains and floods destroyed their farm lands and they couldn't recover from the loss.

In the 1600s Spanish explorers found the ruins and named it Casa Grande - Great House. The main structure was 60 feet long and 4 stories high. Some of the walls were 4 feet thick, tapering in width as they rose to the higher stories. It was made out of caliche, which is a mix of sand, clay and limestone.  The struture has endured centuries of visitors who damaged the site with graffiti, as well as other ways. Presently, the structure's remains stand under a shelter built in 1932, a giant steel affair that protects the ruins of the Great House from most of the hot desert sun and summer monsoons. In 1892 the area was declared the first archeological reserve and subequently was declared a National Monument.

The area included several compounds surrounding the Great House and a ball court. There would have been shelters called ramadas, which were wooden frames with small tree branches laid on top for shade. What is left of the compound area now are some low walls with a few portions of higher walls in a couple places.
It's amazing when you see what these people accomplished in ancient times.  There are ruins of great structures all over the world from ancient times that we now visit in awe.

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