Mantezumas Well Ancient Ancestral Village

Montezumas well is located near Sedona Arizona and features well-preserved cliff-dwellings. They were built and used by the Pre-Columbian Sinagua people, northern cousins of the Hohokam, around 700 CE. It was occupied from approximately 1125-1400 CE, and occupation peaked around 1300 CE. The monument is not at all a castle, but remains to be named “Montezuma Castle”, despite it having nothing to do with Aztec Empire nor being named after any Montezuma emperors, such as Montezuma (spelled more properly “Moctezuma”). Many sites in North America are misnamed such as this site, because their discoverers were more interested in the discovery than information or understanding. Several Hopi clans trace their roots to immigrants from the Montezuma Castle/Beaver Creek area. Clan members periodically return to their former homes for religious ceremonies. When European Americans discovered them in the 1860s, they named them for the Aztec emperor (of Mexico) Montezuma, due to mistaken beliefs that the emperor had been connected to their construction. Neither part of the monument’s name is correct. The Sinaqua dwelling was abandoned 100 years before Montezuma was born and the Dwellings were not a castle. It was more like a “prehistoric high rise apartment complex”.

Montezuma Well is a natural sinkhole 368 feet wide measuring 70 feet from the water to the tops of the cliffs. Every day approximately 1.5 million gallons of warm (74°) water flows from the well. The Well is fed by three to four large underwater vents, some 56 feet below the surface. The water flows from the Well through a 300 foot long cave to emerge on the southeast side of the sinkhole mound. Here it is diverted into an ancient irrigation ditch built over 1,000 years ago by the Hohokam and Sinaguan Indians who farmed here for centuries.

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