August 24, 2012

Wupatki Solitude

Erik Cook
August 24th, 2012

Bead discovered at Wupatki
          We arrived at Wupatki five minutes before the ranger station opened.  When the doors swung open, we proceeded to look through the visitor center.  Everyone else hung in there for a while, but I headed right for the site.  I was the first one there, a privilege I have learned to cherish.  I much prefer the silence of solitude that first light brings to these ancient ruins (I have had similar experiences at various great houses at Chaco).  The solitude provides me with a clearer picture of the true energy of the structure, this place was a home for kin groups and must have had great ceremonial and social events.  The large great kiva and ball court attest to this.  I was naturally drawn down to the great kiva after my initial exploration of the site.  I sat cross-legged in the very center of the great kiva and wrote in my journal.  I was still alone, almost dreading the moment another person would join me.  Naturally I glanced across the dirt in front of me, eyes always keen in places like this.  To my great surprise and satisfaction, I found a tiny bead, probably from an ancient necklace, lying in the dirt right where I sat.  I scraped it our of the ground with my finger and held it close to my eye.  Had any other human being laid eyes on this artifact since the dirt covered it over some eight hundred years ago?  Heavy rains in the recent days had surely uncovered it, and I was the fortunate soul to happen upon it and unearth it.  A sense of connection flooded over me, almost as if I was transported back in time, and I sat in the kiva in pure contentment, letting Wupatki talk to my soul.

Flooded Ball Court
View of Wupatki from inside the Great Kiva

         I also found sherds consisting of grey corrugated, red ware, and black-on-white painted ware.  One of the more striking points about this site was how the builders used large boulders naturally in their home, building around them masterfully, utililizing them to their advantage.  I headed down to the ball court, a rare site in this region.  This naturally leads to much speculation about the contact between Meso-American cultures and Keyenta-Anasazi culture.  The recent rains had flooded the court, turning it into a contained pond, but it was still impressive.  I couldn't help but think this place must have been bustling with energy, culture bursting from the seams from a vibrant group of people.  Ancestral Puebloan sites being an affinity of mine, this was an amazing first stop on our three-week journey, one that I will certainly never forget. 

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