Wednesday, 30 September 2009

The collapse of the Ancestral Pueblo culture

One of the four original tribes to settle in the American Southwest, you came to the Colorado Plateau in 1200BC. Over a thousand years your Anasazi culture slowly developed; from seasonal migration to cultivating crops, from basket-weaving to pottery-making, from building pit-houses to constructing massive settlements in the cliffs.

The landscape was harsh, but between 900 and 1130AD good harvests let your people flourish, increasing ten-fold. You became more and more sophisticated, creating magnificent, five-storey palaces aligned with the stars.

Your growing ambitions consumed more and more resources. When the local area was de-forested you had timber carried in by hand from mountains fifty miles away. And still your society grew. Ruled by an elite who loved turquoise and ate well even when the rains didn’t come, even when the water table fell and the crops began to fail.

Eventually you lost faith. Legend says you felt your ancestors must have abused their power, causing changes which were never meant to occur. You suffered with the land. Your people fought each other, sometimes eating their enemies.

As one, you decided to abandon the civilisation you had created and move to better lands. Quietly you left, merging into the new cultures in the south, turning away from the destruction and loss you had left behind.