For reasons unbeknownst to modern researchers, the Anasazi Indians abandoned their homes in southwestern Colorado after inhabiting the area for less than a century. Life could be rough in southwest Colorado – little rainfall, scrubby sagebrush, intense sunshine. The remains of an Anasazi village features wall paintings, stone benches, and even rudimentary ventilation systems. But nobody today explores the Anasazi lands for cave drawings and furniture. Instead, researchers from around the world are drawn to the area in order to investigate the chilling remains of ancient cannibalism. The reason at least seven humans were eaten is not definitively known, however, it may have something to do with the Anasazi’s’ sudden departure from their stone paradise.
Cowboy Wash is a large flat plain beneath the Sleeping Ute Mountain. The village that inhabited this area was probably Anasazi. In 1993, a series of archeological sites were found on the plains, each site featuring one to three pit-houses (a pit-house is a building constructed over a hole in the ground and are commonly referred to as dugouts). The remains that were deemed possibly cannibalistic were discovered by a Ute Tribe- supervised archaeological survey commission on behalf of a private firm that was seeking to launch a new irrigation system in the area. Of the many sites of interest found, 5mt10010 caused the most alarm. It is believed that the dwelling, which was composed of three pit-houses, was occupied sometime between 1125 and 1150 by 15 to 20 people. Inside, “archeologists found more than 1,100 bones and bone fragments, including shoulder blades, skulls, vertebrae, ribs, arm bones, hand and foot bones, and teeth. Nearly all were broken” (Dold, 1998). Many of the larger bones were missing.
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