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  • The most fascinating archaeological sites in North America

    Cliff Palace, photo by Ken Lund

    The United States of America is not a very old state, but well before the British colonists arrived to America in the 17th century, the Native Americans had already built their civilization. Despite the earlier inhabitants of North America, and the vast number of archaeological digs and sites, the northern half of the continent is not exactly famed for them.

    While Central and South America seem to get more attention from archaeologists and visitors, there is much to see in the US and Canada too. Here are some of the most fascinating archaeological sites in North America.

    Mesa Verde, Colorado

    Mesa Verde National Park is famous for its natural beauty, but at the altitude of 2600 meters, something more can be found: Indian pueblos built between the 6th and the 12th centuries. According to estimates, there are about 4,400 sites, many of them built right on the plateau. Probably theĀ  most famous site is the Cliff Palace, the largest cliff dwelling in America, built by the Ancient Pueblo Peoples.

    Frances Canyon Ruin, New Mexico

    The Frances Canyon Ruin is a Navajo pueblito, that is, a collection of small timber and stone structures built by the Navajo people in the 17th and 18th centuries. This particular pueblito shows how the living conditions of the Navajo people changed after the Spanish introduced cattle, fruit trees and horses to the Navajo civilization.

    Gahagan Mounds Site, Louisiana

    Gahagan Mounds Site is an early Caddoan Mississippean burial site, which yielded lots of important artifacts when it was discovered at the beginning of the 20th century. Unfortunately, much of the site has been destroyed by a nearby river, but the cone shaped burial mound is still very much visible.

    Moundville Archaeological Site, Alabama

    photo by cyanocorax

    This archaeological site used to be a huge religious and cultural center for the people of the Mississippi culture between the 11th and 16th centuries. The 70 hectare park has 32 platform mounds organized around a central plaza.

    According to archaeologists, the larger mounds were the residences of the highest ranking clans, while the smaller ones were the homes of the regular people.

    photo by Jan Beckendorf

    Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Alberta, Canada

    This place has got to the the Unesco World Heritage Site with the quaintest name in the whole world. The ‘buffalo jump’ was used by the native Blackfoot people to drive buffalo off an 11 meter cliff.

    The lane leading up to the jump is lined with cairns, and the Blackfoot would hide behind them dressed as wolves and coyotes in order to frighten the buffalo. To find more about the native culture, you can drop by the visitor center which has a lot of very detailed information.

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