National Geographic : 1964 Feb
out by the traffic of visitors. During 1963 a record number of people, more than 320,000, drove up the northern escarpment of the mesa from Colorado's flat Mancos Valley-up into the scrub woods which gave the plateau the name Mesa Verde, Spanish for "green table" (maps, pages 164-5). The visitors flocked onto Chapin Mesa, site 156 of the most famous pueblos: Cliff Palace, the largest and most imposing, where in the 13th century at least 400 Indians lived in a com plex of 200 rooms; Spruce Tree House and Balcony House, at once apartments, citadels, and cathedrals of stone and mortar. In time these relatively fragile ruins could be eroded away by the ever-increasing throngs of admirers. But fortunately there were more cliff houses-silent, remote, seldom visited, Treasure from the past emerges into the bright sun of Wetherill Mesa. A bowl goes up through the rebuilt door of a kiva. Life in the Kiva Seven Centuries Ago: Painting Depicts a Busy Work Day Wetherill Mesa dwellers vanished mysteri ously but left many clues. National Geo graphic Society grants to the National Park Service backed a thorough scientific study. Indians used the underground kiva as both ceremonial chamber and workshop. Weaver at left looms cotton, spun by man beside ladder. Youth above emerges from a tunnel. Man in center creates a blanket by twining yucca cords wrapped in turkey feathers. Indian at right chips an arrow head; woman on ladder brings in corn gruel. Hole in the floor is the sipapu, gateway to the spirit world. Archeologists guided artist Peter V. Bianchi to ensure accuracy in re creating the life of pre-Columbian pueblos.