I’d like to announce that I have a new book out this month. I know, I just released my Encyclopedia Rudimentia this year… but this new book is not a drum book, or even related to music. Its called The Forgotten Side of Bandelier: Archeology of the Tsankawi Ruins at Bandelier National Monument and, as the name suggest, its non-fiction about a relatively overlooked portion of Bandelier National Monument near Los Alamos, NM.
Tsankawi is an ancient village that was inhabited by Ancestral Puebloan people from roughly 1400 to 1600. Give or take. People moved to the area, called the Pajarito Plateau, in significant numbers after the collapse of the great Chaco Canyon civilization in the mid-1100s to 1200s. They built many villages with massive stone architecture, including a large pueblo at Tsankawi Mesa which had hundreds of room and may have stood 3 stories tall. Tsankawi also features over 350 cliff-dwellings, a wealth of petroglyphs, and a network of deeply worn ancient footpaths. As a part of a National Monument (though detached and 12 miles up the road) you’d expect that finding information about the site would be easy, but its not. The park service pamphlet on the site is pretty small and, after checking out about half the local library, I found the info on Tsankawi to be scattered and buried in a number of different publications. A footnote here, a paragraph there, a side mention or a picture caption snuck into a book about something else entirely. Nothing I read really gave the site its full attention.
Of course, I took it upon myself to collect everything I could find on the site and compile it into one concise volume that singles out Tsankawi and gives it a dedicated treatment from the geography, geology, and regional context, to the actual ruins and their archeological history, to the conservation and preservation issues facing the park today. I’ve tried to cover it all. I’m not an archeologist, anthropologist, or historian, but I felt compelled to share what I learned in the absence of any other comprehensive resources and I’ve come up with 114 pages and 0ver 40 images that should fill that void.