Showing posts from March, 2018

The Earliest Evidence of Basketmakers in the Southwest: Falls Creek Valley

Looking across the Animas River Valley, north of Durango, Colorado, to the white, banded cliffs that are above the Falls Creek Valley. In the background are the La Plata mountains with early Spring snow.  These cliffs are designated the Falls Creek Archaeological Area because some of the first dwellings built by Basketmaker people in the Southwest were discovered here. There were dwellings inside rock overhangs at the base of those cliffs and on the slopes below. The rock shelters and caves in these cliffs were first lived in some 2,700 years ago, at the end of the Archaic and beginning of the Basketmaker period. They remained occupied until this region was vacated by Indigenous people around the year 825. People may have preferred to live high up on the side of the Falls Creek Valley because it was warmer there than on the valley bottoms, which collected colder air that tended to sink. These Basketmakers were among the first people in the Mesa Verde region to cultivate maize, squash a