Ancient Cliff Dwellings

Cliff dwellings have existed in many different parts of the world. In many cases, basic homes could be made simply by utilizing the existing walls and roofs of caves. Rock could be tunneled into rather than having to be carved out in great quantities for use as building materials.

  1. Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellings, Colorado, US
  2. The Bandiagara Cliff Dwellings, Mali
  3. The Gila Cliff Dwellings, New Mexico, US
  4. The Uçhisar Cliff Dwellings,Turkey
  5. Manitou Cliff Dwellings, Colorado, US
  6. Guyaju Cave Dwellings, Yanqing District, China

The cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde (picture 1) are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are considered among the best preserved and most important sites of their kind in North America. They were inhabited by Ancestral Pueblo peoples, built between 1190 and 1300 CE. The structures and villages range from a 200 chamber Cliff Palace to single room storage spaces.

The origins of China’s Guyaju cave dwellings (picture 6) are shrouded in mystery, as there are no records of the people who created them. However, they are thought to be over 1,000 years old and may have been the work of the Xiyi people, of whom little is known. The dwellings are the biggest ruins of their kind ever discovered in China and feature 170 caves with more than 350 chambers. Relics such as stone bedding, air vents and rainwater collection devices have been found, as well as caves that housed horses.


August 10th 1680: Pueblo Revolt begins

On this day in 1680 Pueblo Indians in present day New Mexico began an uprising against Spanish colonisers. Any rebellions against Spanish rule in the province of Santa Fe de Nuevo México by the indigenous people were brutally suppressed. This violence, coupled with Spanish seizure of Indian crops and possessions, and Spanish assaults on pueblo religion and enforcement of Christianity, led to deep resentment of exploitative Spanish rule. This came to a head in 1680, when Tewa leader Popé (or Po’Pay) led a co-ordinated, large-scale uprising against the Spanish. The revolt was in direct response to the Spanish governor’s arrest and beating of 47 pueblo shamans, one of whom was Popé. On the night of August 10th thousands of Indians across the province rose up against the Spanish authorities. 2,500 warriors sacked the colonial headquarters in Santa Fe and in the next few days over 400 Spaniards were killed. The rebellion was ultimately successful in driving the Spanish out of the region. However after Popé’s death in 1688 his loose confederation of pueblos fell apart and descended into infighting and wars with neighbouring tribes. The Spanish were therefore able to launch a reconquest in 1692, but this time were careful to allow pueblo religion to continue. While it was short-lived, the remarkable success of the Pueblo Revolt against the far better armed Spanish makes it the most successful act of resistance ever undertaken by Native Americans against European invaders.


Can You Hear “The Hum?”

Currently 1 in 50 people across the world can hear a low, disturbing noise which scientists can’t explain. It is a noise that only 2% can hear, but this low, droning sound is enough to drive anyone mad. No one has yet figured out what causes the phenomena called “The Hum” or why it is heard in locations across the planet.

For decades, hundreds of people worldwide have been plagued by an elusive buzzing noise known as “The Hum.” It is an unexplained phenomena involving a persistent and invasive low-frequency humming, rumbling, or droning noise that is not audible to all people. Hums have been widely reported by national media in the UK and the United States. “The Hum” is sometimes prefixed with the name of a locality where the problem has been particularly publicized: e.g., the “Bristol Hum” and the “Taos Hum.”

The “Taos Hum” in Taos, New Mexico has been featured on many paranormal websites and shows. Some residents and visitors in the small city have been annoyed and puzzled for years by a mysterious and faint low-frequency hum in the desert air. Oddly, only about 2 percent of Taos residents report hearing the sound. Whether described as a whir, hum, or buzz or if its cause is psychological, natural, or supernatural, no one has yet been able to locate the sound’s origin.

The “Bristol Hum” in Great Britain is the most famous example  that first made headlines in the late 1970s. One newspaper asked readers in the city: “Have you heard the Hum?” Almost 800 people said they had. The problem has persisted for years. Experts stated that traffic and factories were to blame. There have been other cases in Cheshire, Cornwall, Gloucestershire, London, Shropshire, Suffolk and Wiltshire. A low-pitched drone known as the “Largs Hum” has troubled the coastal town of Largs in Strathclyde for more than two decades. And the problem is on the increase, according to the Low Frequency Noise Sufferers’ Association. Two thousand people have so far have contacted its helpline, and it says it receives two or three new cases every week. At least three suicides have been blamed on “The Hum” in the United Kingdom.

The internet is abuzz with rumors and speculation as to the cause of “The Hum.” Conspiracy theorists are convinced that Governments are behind the sound by broadcasting messages from secret research stations. Others are positive that is has to do with microwave transmissions or power station transformers. There are dark mutterings about secret military activity or alien contacts. “The Hum” has even been featured in an episode of the science fiction show, “The X-Files.”

People suffering from “The Hum” are constantly being dismissed as crazy or whiners which only exacerbates their distress from the sound, most of whom have perfectly normal hearing. Physical reactions have included nausea, dizziness, nosebleeds, headaches and sleep disturbances.

So what is the cause? Various features of modern life have been blamed - gas pipes, power lines, mobile phone masts, wind farms, nuclear waste, and even low-frequency submarine communications. Some doctors speculate that certain people just hear frequencies that others don’t or that everyone hearing it is suffering from tinnitus (an inner ear disorder). But none of these explanations have satisfied the people who are having to deal with this constant noise in their head, leaving some on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Regardless of what reasons have been provided, most of the time there is no external noise that can be recorded or identified. Will “The Hum” be solved or will it remain in science’s own “X-Files?”

source 1, 2, 3, 4


The Chaco Culture National Historical Park, New Mexico, USA.

The Pueblo peoples occupied a large region of the south-western United States for over 2,000 years. Between 850 and 1250 Chaco Canyon was the major centre of ancestral Pueblo culture, which was used for ceremonials, political activity, and trade.

Chaco is an example of a prehistoric or protohistoric culture that is remarkable for its monumental public and ceremonial buildings and its distinctive architecture. 

The zenith was from around 1020 to 1110. The highly organized reconstruction of old living places, such as Pueblo Bonito and Penasco Blanco, demonstrates their skill in the use of building techniques in a difficult environment. The Chaco people combined pre-planned architectural designs, astronomical alignments, geometry, landscaping and engineering to create an ancient urban centre of spectacular public architecture. Chaco was connected to over 150 communities throughout the region by engineered roads and a shared vision of the world.

At the same time it illustrates the increasing complexity of the Chaco social structure: circular kivas having an essentially religious role appeared on a regular basis in the middle of an increasingly differentiated unitary dwelling. More and more roads were built and the signs of extensive trading became more manifest (imports of ceramics and lithic materials, including turquoise). This phase was followed by a period of rapid decadence about 1110. From 1140 to 1200, the Chaco population died out and the pueblos were abandoned. (unesco)

Photos courtesy & taken by Timothy Brown.


Saint Ferdinand


Querétaro, México

This statue of Saint Ferdinand, the King of Castile and León in Spain, was originally part of an altar screen installed in the Cathedral of Querétaro, Mexico, around 1750. Many cathedrals in Spain and Latin America installed main altar pieces dedicated to royal saints. Statues of Saint Ferdinand were often paired with ones of his friend and cousin, Saint Louis IX of France. The Denver statue was collected in Querétaro in 1920; its matching statue of Saint Louis is in a private collection in Mexico City.

As in Europe, the statues in altarscreens of Latin America were carved of wood. Fabric areas were treated with a technique known in Spanish as estofado, in which tissue-thin sheets of hammered gold were applied to a red gesso ground. Next, paint was applied over the gold leaf. Then the paint layer was stamped or etched through to reveal the gold underneath, in imitation of the elaborate brocade fabrics of the period. Areas depicting skin, such as the faces and hands, were created using a different technique known asencarnación, in which white gesso was painted in flesh tones, shellacked, and gently sanded. The process was repeated until the buildup of layers achieved a glowing surface imitating real skin. (Denver Art Museum)

Denver Art Museum


BLM New Mexico Announces Its Newest Dinosaur, Ziapelta sanjuanensis 

On September 24, 2014, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and the BLM New Mexico announced the Ziapelta sanjuanensis, a new genus of ankylosaur (armored dinosaur). The dinosaur was discovered in 2011 by a joint field party of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science and the State Museum of Pennsylvania who were working on a BLM-funded survey of the paleontology of the Bisti/De-na-zin Wilderness of northwestern New Mexico.

Ziapelta is a new kind of armored dinosaur distinguished by unique features of the armor plates on the skull and the uniquely shaped horns that adorn the posterior edges of the skull. Its closest relatives are Late Cretaceous ankylosaurs found north of New Mexico, particularly in Alberta, Canada. The dinosaur was named for the Zia sun symbol, Latin pelta (small shield), and San Juan County, New Mexico.

Watch the news clip about the discovery by KRQE, a CBS affiliate located in Albuquerque, which includes an interview with BLM New Mexico Paleontologist Phil Gensler: http://bit.ly/1pm12ka

Story by BLM New Mexico


As a paleontology lab volunteer at the Natural History Museum of Utah, this was my task today: unjacketing, “excavating,” cleaning, and consolidationg what turned out to be the rib of a phytosaur (a kind of crocodile relative).  A great day!

This morning I spied the pile of jackets on the cart.  They’re from the Triassic formation at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico (what I mentally think of as “that Coelophysis place”). The rib jumped out at me first thing, and I desired it so.  Lo and behold, my supervisor gives it to me as my task for the day. What luck!

As I opened the jacket, I realized that everything inside was crumbled to bits.  As I probed further, I had the horrifying thought that the so-called rib was no longer identifiable (at least by me, anyway) and was somehow summarily crushed in transportation.  After some calming from my supervisor (and his reminder that I was working bottom-in, so it would take a while before I would see anything), I hit pay dirt.  (I feel as if I’ve been waiting a life time to say that!)

The pictures show me removing the matrix and the thin, black rib becoming exposed.  Sorry for the not-so-good pictures, my fingers were covered in plaster, glue, or both, and honestly at the time I was far more interested in uncovering my specimen. 

It’s looking good so far, but I’ve got plenty of work to go, especially since the rib is broken in probably 30 or more places so I’ll need to do some serious gluing. 

Stay tuned next week!