Antiquities of the Mesa Verde National Park, Cliff Palace

Antiquities of the Mesa Verde National Park, Cliff Palace

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Antiquities of the Mesa Verde National Park, Cliff Palace

Antiquities of the Mesa Verde National Park, Cliff Palace

Read FREE!

Excerpt

The writer is indebted also to Mr. F. K. Vreeland, of Montclair, New Jersey, for several fine photographs of Cliff Palace taken before the repairing was done.

CLIFF PALACE A TYPE OF PREHISTORIC CULTURE

In the following pages the walls and other remains of buildings and the objects found in the rooms have been treated from their cultural point of view. Considering ethnology, or culture history, as the comparative study of mental productions of groups of men in different epochs, and cultural archeology as a study of those objects belonging to a time antedating recorded history, there has been sought in Cliff Palace one type of prehistoric American culture, or rather a type of the mental production of a group of men in an environment where, so far as external influences are concerned, caves, mesas, and cliffs are predominant and aridity is a dominant climatic factor. Primarily archeology is a study of the expression of human intelligence, and it must be continually borne in mind that Cliff Palace was once the home of men and women whose minds responded to their surroundings. It is hoped that this monograph will be a contribution to a study of the influence of environment on the material condition of a group of prehistoric people. The condition of culture here brought to light is in part a result of experiences transmitted from one generation to another, but while this heritage of culture is due to environment, intensified by each transmission, there are likewise in it survivals of the culture due to antecedent environments, which have also been preserved by heredity, but has diminished in proportion, pari passu, as the epoch in which they originated is farther and farther removed in time from the environment that created them. These survivals occur mostly in myths and religious cult objects, and are the last to be abandoned when man changes his environment.

It is believed that one advantage of a series of monographic descriptions of these ruins is found in the fact that the characteristics of individual ruins being known, more accurate generalizations concerning the entire culture will later be made possible by comparative studies. There is an individuality in Cliff Palace, not only in its architecture but also in a still greater measure in the symbolism of the pottery decoration. These features vary more or less in different ruins, notwithstanding their former inhabitants were of similar culture. These variations are lost in a general description of that culture.

The reader is asked to bear in mind that when the repair of Cliff Palace was undertaken the vandalism wrought by those who had dug into it had destroyed much data and greatly reduced the possibility . . .

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