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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Tuzigoot National Monument

Our next stop was at Tuzigoot National Monument, near Cottonwood, AZ.  I have very divergent thoughts about Tuzigoot.  Tuzigoot was the last really big excavation of a pueblo in Arizona, and was excavated in the 1930's.  It's amazing to see all of the rooms built on top of the hill.  Many of the walls have been rebuilt from where they once fell. 
Tuzigoot also has an outstanding collection of pots excavated from the pueblo.  Where we saw lots of pottery shards other places,  we didn't see any on the ground here.  Many of the pots had been broken into pieces and had been reassembled piece by piece.  You can see where some of the pieces are still missing.  Maybe they were ground into dust over the years, or  a piece was taken by visitors, or maybe just mis-filed during the excavation.  These large pots were used to store water.
Here's a collection of smaller pots.  These were created in several different locations, and were brought here through trading.  The different colors and painting styles help to determine pretty closely where each pot was created. 
I found the patterns on the inside of this pot interesting.  The swirl and zigzag motif seems to be very common and I've seen variations of it in petroglyphs at Petrified Forest National Park here in Arizona and pictographs at Hueco Tanks in Texas to name a few locations.   The museum at Tuzigoot is quite amazing.  It is easily the best museum we saw on our trip.  But therein lies the dilemma. 
The ruins are scrubbed bare.  Sterile.  Impressive walls, but nothing else.  No personality, no little artifacts on the ground where you could point at it and say "Look right there at what I found!".  Tuzigoot, which means Crooked River in Apache, doesn't even let you go inside of the rooms of the ruin.  We don't know what the site's original name was to those who built it.  They have moved on and left, leaving those who came after to name it after the sharp bend in the river below. 
I mentioned earlier that I'm really conflicted about Tuzigoot.  I don't have problems with the ruins being excavated, as they were abandoned and it's basically just sifting through a thousand year old trashpile.  But I do have problems with the ruins being excavated.  I enjoy wandering and discovering places myself. Not seeing any artifacts or signs of the people that built the pueblo as I wandered around Tuzigoot really sterilized the place for me.  The walls  partially rebuilt walls remain behind, but there were no petroglyphs or pictographs or arrowheads or pottery shards left behind, reminding me at a micro level that someone once called this home.  There is an outstanding museum at Tuzigoot, quite frankly, the best museum we saw on our Northern Arizona trip, but how much of what was dug up is now filed away in a warehouse, only to be looked at, if at all, by researchers? 

Nearest City: Cottonwood, AZ or Clarkdale, AZ
Location: N° W°
Time Needed: 2 hours
Difficulty: easy
Kid Friendly: yes
Additional Info: National Park Service Tuzigoot Website

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