Dean M. Chriss
Stone Teepees, Bandelier National Monument

Stone Teepees, Bandelier National Monument

(Click image to enlarge)

The geology of Bandelier national Monument was formed by massive volcanic eruptions. Ancestral Pueblo People lived here between A.D. 1100 and 1550. Many of them further excavated the natural voids in these volcanic formations to create their dwellings, known as cavates. "Cavate" is a combination of the words cave and excavate. In 2001 these cavates were listed among the most endangered places in New Mexico.

In this image the blackened ceiling of one cavate can be seen. It is believed this blackening of ceilings in all of these dwellings was intentional. The soot helped seal the crumbly volcanic tuff and helped prevent grit and dirt from constantly falling onto the floor.