Ranger Kathryn's Arches

June 21, 2012

Keet Seel 3: real people

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 4:31 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

(continued from Keet Seel 2: arrival at the ruin)

An everyday cooking vessel sits silently in the ruin.

In every direction, my eyes land on evidence of the ancestral Puebloans’ occupancy — at times so fresh, so present, that it is as if these people just picked up and left recently.

Ancient corn cobs fill the stone depressions that may have served as part of the grinding process.

Ancient shrunken corn cobs fill stone depressions which were likely used for knocking the kernels off to be ground; I can see the womenfolk hard at their task with metates and manos. A shapely vessel adorns the top of one wall, recovered in pieces and cemented back together; I can see girls filling it with water. Down in the kiva, fiber loom anchors are attached to the floor; I hear the men gathered there, weaving blankets, talking about their latest hunting escapades.

Hollow pottery handle from a dipper or ladle adds intrigue.

A broken dipper handle, hollow, hallowed, sits upon a pile of stones; thirsty children drink from the spring. And, in one darkened room block, our camera flash reveals distinct painted handprints on the wall — intimate touch of its residents 750 years ago. Rough-hewn beam ends, ceiling timbers shaped by stone ax, project from rock walls. Pottery shards everywhere speak of the artistry and aesthetics of this culture.

 ~~ to be continued ~~

Every shard reflects the artistry of its maker. They covered the ground underfoot.

One can see the ax marks on this beam. Dendrochronologists can tell in what year it was felled by comparing it to known tree ring patterns.

Black and yellow paint highlight hands of the original residents. The yellow pigment was blown through a straw-like reed to make the negative print.


  1. Do they know what was used to make the yellow color paint on the hand pictographs?

    Comment by superdave0002 — June 21, 2012 @ 5:20 pm | Reply

    • It was some kind of mineral, with a binding agent like saliva or urine to hold it together. The fact that these pigments last for millennia is remarkable to me, but the porous sandstone holds it well.

      Comment by Kathryn Burke — June 23, 2012 @ 9:45 am | Reply

  2. Very cool, Kathryn!

    Comment by Pk — June 21, 2012 @ 7:56 pm | Reply

  3. I get the sense that this abode was abandoned in haste for some reason.

    Comment by Donald Bouchard — June 22, 2012 @ 5:40 am | Reply

    • The people took enough time to “close up” the village before leaving; it wasn’t a run-for-your-lives type of exit. A huge log was dragged up the ladder and placed across the entrance as a Keep Out sign. Doors to full granaries were sealed, indicating an expectation to return. Very interesting…

      Comment by Kathryn Burke — June 23, 2012 @ 9:47 am | Reply

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