Sunday, April 5, 2009
Poncho House Ruin
One of the fine, large pre-historic ruins of the Southwest, Poncho House Ruins was occupied and built during the 12th century and set in a great horseshoe bend of Chinle Wash, near the Arizona-Utah border.
Nancy and I visited Poncho House last week, accompanied by a Dine (Navajo) Guide from nearby Bluff, Utah. The drive to the ruin is scenic, with views of Monument Valley in the distance. The final 1/4 mile of road, which is really more of an exercise in rock-hopping, requires a 4-wheel drive vehicle.
We then hiked a mile, halfway down into Chinle Wash, then along a benchland where we could approach the ruin. The benchland would have been an ideal spot for farming, assuming that enough water would remain in the wash for irrigation during the dry season. The ground is littered with black, red white and grey pottery shards, some with bits of intricately-painted decoration.
Our guide showed us a number of artifacts that he had found, and hidden so that that they will remain with the site: a comb, fashioned from yucca fiber and thin twigs from river willow; a bit of woven mat; arrow points; etc. He also pointed out metates and grinding stones, and gouges in the sandstone where workers had sharpened their stone hoes.
As we entered the ruin, we saw bits of turkey feathers, human hair, corncobs, and handprints in the hardened adobe between stone masonry.
The cliff walls are covered with pictographs, as well as the faint outlines where walls once abutted.
The people living there had an incredible view: The weathered spires and cliffs above the wash seem more appropriate for a Martian landscape.