Aztec Ruins… first, I visited this site while staying at Mom and Pop’s RV Park in Farmington, New Mexico. (A GREAT place by the way!)
The first thing I learned is the Aztec Ruins were likely NEVER occupied by Aztecs! The name was gained from the notes of an archaeologist in the mid-1800’s who was instrumental in un-earthing this site. His notes referred to this as an “aztec-like” area, and since Aztec-lore was big at that time, the local residents named the neighboring town Aztec, and the site was dubbed the “Aztec Ruins”. Built by the Puebloan (indians), and occupied by typically nomadic people who advanced to an agrarian culture about 1000 yrs ago, these structures are actually multi-story!
Visitors are actually able to walk through the structure – much of which is as it was over 1000 years ago! When you survey the pictures, look at the heights of the doorways between rooms; the kivas (deep, circular “rooms” where ceremonies were conducted.) It is thought that this area was not occupied by many residents, as an apartment building may be; instead it was a community gathering site for socializing, food preparation, storage and the like.
Why the site was abandoned is unknown. A lot of work went into designing it! The long wall – look for the shot of it – is over the length of a football field! The large circular building in the center is reconstructed from the archaeological notes made when the site was first unearthed.
I’m personally most interested in “old American towns” (soon you will see an essay on Helper, Utah), so this is about 900 years older than my “area of interest”, regardless, I found the site to be most interesting and highly recommend allocating at least 2 1/2 hours to visit – including a 30 minute video that explains the history of these people and the region.