Exploring the Southwest! Spring 2009 travel blog

Tuzigoot, Indian ruins atop a hill in the Verde River valley... inhabited...

Ascending the Tuzigoot ruins.

Overlooking the Verde River valley from atop Tuzigoot.

Inside the dwelling. The thick stone walls kept it cool in summer...

Macaw burial at Tuzigoot.

Looking down on the western wing of rooms. Note matate in foreground...

View of Verde River valley.

A pair of birds on a branch near Tuzigoot.

Looking back up at the Tuzigoot ruins.


Tuzigoot, located on a high hill over looking the Verde River valley is a stone pueblo inhabited by ancient dwellers between 1000 and 1400 CE (current epic, ie., AD). These Native Americans farmed the region using only stone implements and raised corn, squash and beans. They also grew cotton from which they made clothes. They traded for pots with the Indians to the north and for shells and tropical birds with peoples as far south as Mexico.

Our visit to the Tuzigoot ruin was really interesting. The views from the hill are very panoramic. We were particularly moved by the archeological discovery that among the various graves was that of a red and blue macaw. This bird was lovingly laid to rest in a special stone lined tome. Native peoples believed that birds were special messengers from the gods. One that could speak must have been particularly revered and probably also very loved. Parrots were brought to the region by traders traveling up from Mexico. Recall that all of this was before horses were introduced, so such traveling was done on foot.

The immediate area around Tuzigoot contained some 50 or more stone-age villages, some pueblos on hill tops, others were buildings nestled into cliffs. These communities ranged from as small as housing 35 people to communitiees of over 1,000. There seems to have been real prosperity for about 400 years, but the people in this part of the world vanish abruptly around 1400 CE, before the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors in the 1500’s. It is not known what happened to them… did a plague sweep through the region, was there drought or perhaps wars broke out amongst the tribes? In any event, they were gone by the time Europeans started to invade the region.

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