Over the past 5 months, I’ve had the opportunity to take some time to travel and reflect on things. One thing that always amazes me about travelling, is that there is so much richness in history. Ancient, and not-so-ancient civilizations, truly had answers to a lot of modern issues, and it is shame that there weren’t more written records from that time.
While in Arizona in February, I happened upon a monument called Montezuma’s Castle. How this place doesn’t have more hubbub around it, I’m not sure. Essentially, 600 years ago, the Sinagua tribe found a way to survive in the harsh desert climate, by building a multi-storey structure (5 if I recall correctly) into the side of a limestone cliff! In addition to that being a feat of engineering, it also allowed for passive use of heating and cooling at the right times. Wooden beams were used as support, and ladders were used in place of stairs. It is believed the tribe left when they ran out of resources. It is amazing to think that even at that time, people had the foresight to use benign materials and that they knew that nothing was permanent. (We visited another site where the Sinaguans also were copper mining before the introduction of toxic chemicals. Another blog post worth of details!)
Another interesting structure that I came across in a National Geographic article was the Hakka Tulou houses. Again, made out of natural materials (“rammed earth”, and used as a garrison for specific clans. They even exceed LEED standards!
While local people are abandoning them, perhaps in the future with dwindling resources they might make sense again, since the structures allow for security, communal living space, and longevity.