Tag Archives: metates


In an area we’ve hiked scores of times, looking for a place for lunch, we climbed a little mesa that promised a good view. On a smooth sandstone ledge, unexpected, was a bedrock metate: the roughly-pecked surface where a woman had ground corn or wild-gathered seeds.

Around it were rough petroglyphs of a lizard and snakes: probably Puebloan, but so heavily coated with desert varnish that they looked Archaic. It was fine to sit where she had sat, looking out over the late winter piñon and sand, munching corn chips we had not had to grind ourselves.

Human Home

Heap of StonesOn a low ridge there had been a cluster of Puebloan fieldhouses, their adobe  melted now, nothing left but a pile of stones, potshards, broken metates. Higher on the slope was an Archaic site: no pottery, the black sand of firepits, many chert flakes.

Clearly, the house-builder Puebloans liked a nice flat bench, while the Archaic preferred the sloping,  sandy corries that face the sun. A few thousand years later, both sites still feel homey, scattered with trash like a friendly living room.

In their time  those sites must have looked even homier: busted baskets, gnawed bones, brush shelters left to the wind, husks and cobs and turds.

We see what lasts.