The scientific tourist #304 — hard at work in Balcony House

Should you ever find yourself in Denver, Colorado, the History Colorado Center gives you a great view of local history.  One of the treasures on display is a beautifully produced miniature diorama of life in the Balcony House cliff dwelling in Mesa Verde.  That being said, the diorama was built in the late 1930s (funded by Depression-era public works projects) — so we’ve learned a thing or two about Mesa Verde life since then.

Hard at work in Balcony House

Here you see scantily clad men and women hard at work — the men working on pottery while the women are upstairs weaving.  It’s a beautifully rendered miniature, but we now know that the scene depicted has 3 things wrong with it:

  1. The residents of Mesa Verde wore much more clothing than this, given the worn-out pieces of attire found in the site’s rubbish dumps
  2. Based on modern-day pueblo life and archaeological discoveries, pottery work was primarily done by the women of Mesa Verde
  3. Similarly, weaving was a man’s job back in the day
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