Palatki and its sister site of Honanki at Loy Butte are the two largest cliff dwellings in the Sedona Red Rocks area. Palatki habitation is dated as AD 1100-1300. When the sites were abandoned, the inhabitants probably moved to pueblos along Oak Creek and the Verde River, such as the Cornville group and Tuzigoot. Palatki consists of two separate pueblos (about 30-50 people of the Southern Sinagua tradition occupied the site), suggesting two family or kin groups may have lived here, one in each pueblo. In fact, the circular-shield-like pictographs about the eastern Pueblo have been interpreted by some archaeologists as being a kin or clan symbol. The larger eastern unit shows population growth by the addition of the two rooms at its west end. The small room added to the east side was probably a storage room, used in common by all the occupants of the east pueblo. The western unit is smaller and contains what may have been a kiva (a ceremonial room), indicated by the raised bench at one end. Population growth is also suggested by the addition of the second story on top of the juniper bark roof of the original room.

Looking up from the trail

In the red rock canyons near Sedona, Arizona are the remains of native cultures that have inhabited the Verde Valley for at least the past 6000 years. Found here are cliff dwellings constructed by the Southern Sinagua people, who inhabited the area from about 650 A.D. to around 1300 A.D..(Sinagua means "without water") Palatki (Hopi for "red house") is home to one of these dwellings, sheltered in a Supai sandstone overhang. But this area is better known as one of the most outstanding pictograph sites in the area, with walls displaying art from Archaic cultures (extending back over 6000 years) to the work of the Sinagua, and finally paintings done by the Yavapai and Apache in historical times.

Looking down from the trail

The rock art is located in several alcoves approximately 1/2 mile west of the cliff dwelling, known collectively as "Red Cliffs". The overhanging rock has shielded the wall from the elements, preserving pictographs that might otherwise have worn away with the passing years. Using pigments made from kaolin clay (white), pulverized hematite (red), powdered limonite (yellow) or charcoal (black), mixed with organic binders such as blood or fruit juice, the residents of the area produced a wide variety of abstract symbols, as well as representations of themselves and the animals of the area.

Looking out from a cave
There are vertical scratches on some of the panels that may pre-date even the Archaic drawings, but dating these scratches with certainty is impossible. The abstract symbols, as well as some of the more abstract human figures done in red, are believed to mainly be the work of the Archaic cultures, from 3000-6000 years ago, as are the many rakes, squiggles and dot patterns found here (believed by some to be representations of water reflections).

caveart2.jpg The animal and human representations done in yellow are believed to be the work of the Sinagua, while the charcoal drawings were probably done in more recent times by the Yavapai or Apache, since some of them depict men on horseback, dating them to after the introduction of the horse to the New World by the Spanish The figures in these panels were originally painted in white or yellow; soot from fires has preferentially stuck to the pigment, coloring the figures black.caveart2.jpg It has been suggested that a series of diamonds, visible in the picture on the right, is a representation of the pattern on the back of a rattlesnake caveart2.jpgThis human figure has a hairstyle similar to the traditional "squash blossom" style worn by Hopi women.