Mountains play an important role in the beliefs of the Pueblo Indians. Ancient towers and stone circles are also considered sacred. Native Americans believe that ancient ruins in Colorado are still inhabited by the spirits of their ancestors, and should not be disturbed without good reason.
Therefore, it is so difficult for archaeologists to obtain permission to examine the sacred sites that hold many ancient secrets.
Polish archaeologists from Kraków have studied the ancient Colorado ruins for six years. During this time, they have learned a lot about the structures and Indians’ beliefs.
The scientists are accompanied by the Indians, before each entry to a studied settlement. The Indians pray, offer sacrifice of flour made of sacred plant and encourage researchers to join them in their ritual.
The purpose of the Polish archaeological project is analysis and reconstruction of the settlement model, as well as tracing the socio-cultural changes that occurred in the ancient Pueblo communities in the thirteenth century AD.
Studies sites are located in three beautiful canyons in Colorado in the Southwest of the United States, in Mesa Verde.
Dr. Radosław Palonka from the Institute of Archaeology of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków explains that the places we today call ruins are not considered abandoned in the eyes of Indians who are conceived spirits of the ancestors live there.
«The meetings and conversations with the Indians are very valuable — they allow us to correctly interpret the remains of the old structures. This is possible in part because that many buildings similar to those we find in cities from before nearly a thousand years, are still being erected and used by the Indians today, «said Dr. Palonka.
Based on what scientists have learned so far, the ancient Pueblo Indian settlements were parts of the network, which can be called a sacred landscape.
Man-made structures formed part of this system, for example stone circles, entire settlements or selected buildings. Their location in relation to the surrounding landscape and directions of the world was also important.
«It turns out that even the orientation of windows and doors of buildings was often purposeful. They tend to be correlated with the point at which the sun appears above the horizon on the special days of the year — solstices or equinoxes,» Dr. Palonka said .
Mountains were considered very sacred and are still today associated with the creation of the first people and symbolize the directions of the world.
The highest mountain visible from the places studied by the Polish archaeologists it is the Sleeping Ute Mountain.
Researchers noted that majority of the settlements faced the south or southeast, which in practice means the of the mountain.
«Although a settlement facing south also has practical considerations — more heat enters the buildings in winter — it also must have had a religious and spiritual dimension, because three of the four stone circles, which are in the study area, also have openings to the south or towards the said peak or one of the plateaus, or facing the highest position of the settlement complex we studied, Dr. Palonka said.
Mysterious stone circles, like those found in Europe were places of sacrificial offerings, celebrations and ceremonies, and perhaps in some of them the movements of the sun and other celestial bodies were observed. Many of the rock paintings and carvings were used for astronomical purposes.
Winter and summer solstices were recorded on rocks and the carvings helped to determine seasons and periods good for planting seeds and the harvest of plants that were in beverages and foods and for medical purposes.
Polish scientists are very lucky to be able to conduct archaeological research in the area associated with the direct ancestors of modern Indians.
«Many groups and Indian tribes are opposed to external interference in places that are important for them, such as holy mountains. This is not surprising, because, unfortunately, these places are often destroyed or used without listening to the protests of the indigenous people of America. They are sometimes used to build ski slopes», Dr. Palonka said.
There is are still many ancient secrets hidden in the ruins, but they can only be revealed if the Indians are willing to let outsiders to their sacred sites. To gain access researchers must show respect for Indian traditions and beliefs.