Don & I spent last weekend down in Globe, Arizona and visited the archeological park at Besh-Ba-Gowah which is such a cool place! This wasn’t our first trip there, but it is a place that you can return to again and again and always learn something new. The botanical gardens are just awesome, and they have a great collection of succulents and cacti. The first time we visited the park, we spent the whole day there touring the pueblo and gardens. We had lunch down in the lower terraces where they have installed several nice picnic tables for visitors to the park.
The current pueblo at Besh-Ba-Gowah (Place of Metals) is over 700 years old, and was occupied by the Salado culture from 1150 to around 1400 AD. It was built on top of an ancient Hohokam village possibly dating to 550 AD, so the area has a long history of Native American settlement. Originally, The Pueblo at Besh Ba Gawah had over 400 rooms which supported a fairly large community. First floor rooms were traditionally used for storage, while upper stories served as living quarters. The Salado were excellent farmers, and agricultural engineers who build very complex irrigation systems which enabled them to grow a variety of vegetables such as squash, cotton, beans, maze, amaranth, & pumpkins. The Salado, a remarkably healthy people, also supplemented their diet with wild game (deer, rabbit), and by gathering pinyon nuts, cholla, agave, grapes, acorn, and prickly pear.
The Salado culture was also famous for their Polychrome pottery which features beautiful geometric designs and wildlife motifs. The museum there has a fine collection of pottery, and other artifacts found at the site, including arrow points, and even a pair of sandals made from yucca fibers. The Salado also excelled at weaving producing intricately woven baskets, breach cloths, kilts, and cradle boards. If you do plan on visiting the archeological park, don’t miss the
video presentation. The documentary was quite well done, and really adds to the experience from a historical perspective.
Besh-Ba-Gowah was the first Native American Pueblo I had ever visited, and both Don and I were impressed at how cool the inside rooms were. Keeping cool must have been a priority while trying to survive in the hot, semi-arid desert climate. And the Salados seem to have solved the problem brilliantly with their multi-story dwellings. Even when it is blazing hot outside, the temperatures inside the main dwellings is quite comfortable. I found it Interesting that most of the buildings have no doors, and very few windows, which I suspect were designed with defensive purposes in mind.
Inhabitants of the pueblo gained entrance to rooms via ladders through the ceiling. The defensive design and layout of the ancient ruins of the pueblo makes sense when you consider they have found evidence of inter tribal warfare with other local Native American communities in the area. To protect themselves from warring tribes, entrance to the community was restricted to a single entrance, a long covered corridor that leads to the center of the Plaza. Unlike the Hohokam who buried their dead under the floors of their houses, the Salado buried their dead in the central plaza -- which in addition to being a communal center, served as a cemetery. The remains of over 150 individuals were found buried in the Plaza. Elite members of the Salado society were buried in the supine position in stone lined pits with offerings and possessions such as effigy vessels, furniture, and rare minerals such as turquoise and obsidian. A bundle of Saguaro needles also indicate that the Salado may have practiced the art of tattooing.
The Pueblo was abandoned around 1400 AD, when a severe drought hit, and water and other resources became too scarce to support the community. If you are ever in the area, and love exploring ancient ruins, it is well worth the visit! The following are just a few pictures I took during our first visit to the park! More pics to follow in part II. Hope you Enjoy!
One of several ladders used to enter first floor storage rooms from the ceiling.
Several rooms at Besh-Ba-Gowah are furnished with artifacts which provide some insight into the daily lives of the ancient Pueblan Indians. Very cool!