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“Mesa Verde Stereoview, ca. 1900”

by Unidentified (Photographer)

The stereoview was a popular form of photography—an early attempt to create a virtual reality. They were viewed through a special stereoscope that merged the two slightly different photographs into one three-dimensional image.

The text of the following stereoview comes from the back Mesa Verde Stereoview, ca. 1900“Mesa Verde Stereoview, ca. 1900,” Unidentified (Photographer) of the photo itself. It reflects the prevailing view of the Southwest and its inhabitants held by the majority Anglo population at that time—the turn of the last century.

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Mesa Verde National Park is in the southwest corner of Colorado. The word mesa means table. Mesa Verde is 15 miles long and 8 miles wide. At its foot are piles of broken rocks, which rise to a height of 500 feet above the bare plains. Mesa Verde rises above these rocky foothills 200 or 300 feet. It is on the bank of the Mancos River, to which beds of former streams cut narrow irregular canyons. In the side of these canyons are the cliff dwellings you see here.

Nobody knows who lived here, but many guesses have been made. Perhaps they were Indians, or perhaps a race that thrived before the Indians. These Cliff Palace in the Mesa Verde, Colorado, c. 1900“Cliff Palace in the Mesa Verde, Colorado, c. 1900,” Unidentified (Photographer)You’ll need 3-D glasses to view this Anaglyph image. Don’t have a pair? Request 3-D glasses right away! people may have been related to the Aztecs of Mexico, or to the present Pueblos of southwestern United States. They built their cliff houses along the steep walls of the canyons for protection. They were farmers tilling their small fields of corn. They ground this corn between flat stones, and they baked their bread on flat stones. They had stone and clay vessels, well made, and often artistically decorated. They had no written language, but used only a few signs which still can be seen on the cliffs. They worshipped the sun.

The “castle” before us is one of the largest and most complete of these habitations. The age of the ruins is estimated at from five hundred to a thousand years. Pottery, implements, remains of wearing apparel, and mummified bodies are found here. The walls are skillfully constructed of native adobe clay.

The work is all primitive, yet the effect of feudal architecture is suggested. The doors and windows, which are somewhat square, have wooden lintels and appear to have been closed by stone slabs, skins, or blankets.