One of my favorite subjects to photograph are the ancient ruins of Paquimé (Casas Grandes) located in Chihuahua, Mexico. I grew up a few miles from this site and have always been fascinated by it.

"The Water People Are Coming" 2014
Jeff Romney (American, b. 1968) The Water People Are Coming, 2014 Digital photograph, Paquimé, Chihuahua, Mexico

The Casas Grandes Culture inhabited parts of Chihuahua, Sonora, and New Mexico between 700 AD – 1600 AD. During the Medio Period (1200 AD – 1450 AD) the Casas Grandes Culture reached the height of its prominence and influence in the region.  It is during this period that Paquimé was built and served as an important ceremonial and trade center. The largest cache of shells ever found in an archaeological context in North America was excavated at Paquimé.  Exquisite ceramics, beautiful works in stone, copper bells, turquoise, and macaw remains were also found at the site.  Paquimé was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998.

"Transforming Shaman"2014
“Transforming Shaman”, 2014 Digital photograph, Ramos Polychrome vessel excavated at Paquimé (detail) Courtesy Museo de las Culturas del Norte – Centro Cultural Paquimé, INAH

This pot, and many other artifacts excavated at Paquimé, can be seen at the museum located on-site at the ruins.

"Monument To The People"2014
Digital photograph, Monumento a la Raza Paquimeita, 2007, by Vladimir Alvarado (Mexican, b. 1938), Bronze

Vladimir Alvarado’s bronze statue (pictured above, Monumento a la Raza Paquimeita, 2007) can be seen on the main highway as you drive into Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, Mexico. The ruins of Paquimé are located just outside this town, which was named after the ruins (Casas Grandes meaning “Big Houses.”)

Words and photographs by Jeff Romney