Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Sipapu


A Hopi word, is a small hole or indentation in the floor of kivas used by the Ancient Pueblo Peoples and modern-day Puebloans. It symbolizes the portal through which their ancient ancestors first emerged to enter the present world. More generally, it functions as a reminder of the Puebloan's earthly origins.sipapu, or Spirit hole, symbolizing the passage through which the first people emerged from mother earth.
Like people today, the Anasazi (or Ancient Puebloans, as they are increasingly called) were presumably complex beings with the ability to make decisions, good and bad, about how to react to a changing environment. They were not pawns but players in the game.Looking beyond climate change, some archaeologists are studying the effects of warfare and the increasing complexity of Anasazi society. They are looking deeper into ancient artifacts and finding hints of an ideological struggle, clues to what was going through the Anasazi mind.“The late 1200s was a time of substantial social, political and religious ferment and experimentation,” said William D. Lipe, an archaeologist at Washington State University.

“You can’t have a situation where it just happens that hundreds of local communities for their own individual, particularistic reasons decide to either die or get up and move,” Dr. Lipe said. “There had to be something general going on.”
When scientists examine the varying width of tree rings, they indeed see a pernicious dry spell gripping the Southwest during the last quarter of the 13th century, around the height of the abandonment. But there had been severe droughts before.
“Over all conditions were pretty darn bad in the 1200s,” said Timothy A. Kohler of Washington State University. “But they were not maybe all that worse than they were in the 900s, and yet some people hung on then.”
Even in the worst of times, major waterways kept flowing. “The Provo River didn’t dry up,” said James Allison, an archaeologist at Brigham Young University. “The San Juan River didn’t dry up.”
“Climate probably explains a lot,” Dr. Allison said. “But there are places where people could have stayed and farmed and chose not to.”
Some inhabitants left the relatively lush climes of what is now southern Colorado for the bone dry Hopi mesas. “Climate makes the most sense for this big pattern change,” Dr. Lipe said. “But then you think, So they went to Hopi to escape this?”
Hopi was far from an anomaly. “The whole abandonment of the Four Corners, at least in Arizona, is people moving to where it’s even worse,” said Jeffrey Dean, an archaeologist at the University of Arizona’s Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/08/science/08anasazi.html?em&ex=1207800000&en=860f80b9b2e42547&ei=5087%0A

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