Navajo National Monument - Keet Seel and Betatakin
Located in central, northern Arizona, on the Navajo Nation, lies the Navajo National Monumet. The Monument was created by President Taft in 1909 and was established to preserve three specific outstanding 13th century cliff dwellings, Keet Seel, Betatakin and Inscription House. Inscription House is closed to the public due to its advanced state of deterioration and its unsafe condition. Betatakin and Keet Seel however, are spectacularly well preserved and both are open to the public.
The hike to Keet Seel is 18.5 miles round trip and requires a 1,000 foot descent into the canyon. The hike to Betatakin is only 5 miles, but also requires a 1,000 foot descent into the canyon. The craftsmanship, the architecture and the state of preservation of each ruin is stunning. The Park service offers the following information about Keet Seel:
“Keet Seel is the largest village at Navajo National Monument and one of the best preserved in the Southwest. It was occupied much longer than Betatakin. Tree-ring dating and pottery fragments show that people settled here by 950. Those early houses are gone, but a few timbers and some stones were reused in the village you can see today. In 1272 building activity surged at Keet Seel and new pottery styles emerged. There were as many as 150 people living here before the settlement fell into decline and families began to leave. Those who remained converted the abandoned rooms into granaries, maybe storing food against hard times.
By 1300, they finally departed altogether, but not before sealing the entryways of many rooms containing pottery jars filled with corn. Were they planning to come back someday? In 1895 amateur explorer Richard Wetherill brought Keet Seel to the attention of the outside world, along with its wealth of pottery, stone tools, animal bones, religious items, and other artifacts. Many of these treasures are now in museums. Thanks to the archeological community, Keet Seel received federal protection as a national monument in 1909.”
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