Chaco Canyon Essay Research Paper CHACO CANYONThe

Chaco Canyon Essay, Research Paper

CHACO CANYONThe Anasazi, who were named by the Navajos, knew how to chart theseasons by observing the sky. The biggest mystery of Chaco Canyon is why theAnasazidecided to leave the home that they had built over so many years. the one thingthat is quite interesting is that they were able to construct such a magnificent piece ofarchitecture without the use of metal tools or any devices with wheels. CHIMNEY ROCKChimney Rock is located about 20 miles west of Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Theconstruction is composed mainly of sandstone which was laid there more than 65 millionyears ago. The district that Chimney Rock is located in consists of 6.12 square miles, has91 identified areas with a total of 217 different structures. Most of these areas were grouped into 7 communities that are located at variousplaces within the district. The Anasazi Indians lived in the Piedra Valley beginning aboutthe tine of Christ. Most of them lives at lower elevations near the fields and they farmedalong the water beds, but some moved up onto the higher parts of Chimney Rock Mesaaround 925 A.D. They may have moved higher to avoid the cold sink effect that made thelower areas colder in the winter, or they may have moved higher to utilize winter snow asa water source. Still, most of the fields they planted in spring were along the waterwayson the floor of the valley or on terraces in the valleys above the river. At Chimney Rockthe people grew corn and beams, but no squash. Although squash was a mainstay of theirpeople in other areas, the growing season was probably too short in this region for squashto mature before it was killed by frost. The population of Chimney Rock is estimated to have been between 1200 and2000 people. The local Anasazi built in the Northern San Juan Style, each family orextended family building its own home. The masonry was similar to that in the structuresat Mesa Verde. Great kivas were built in almost every major Anasazi site between 900 and 1200A.D. One of the several great kivas at Chimney Rock has been excavated. These largestructures probably served for community gatherings and rituals. Fourteen storagechambers, were found in the floor of this Great Kiva, presumably for the storage ofceremonial paraphernalia. Although this Great Kiva has some unique features, it probablywas built according to a general plan used by all the Anasazi. Ninety miles to the south, some of the Anasazi were creating a new kind of societyin Chaco Canyon. Instead of the scattered type of dwellings found in most Anasazicommunities at that time, the people at Chaco were building pueblos or great houses. Thisis Pueblo Bonito. They also created more than 400 miles of roads leading to outlyingsettlements, or colonies. Chaco seems to have been a focal point in the trading ofturquoise from many areas of the Southwest with the civilizations in Central America. In 1076 the Chacoans built a great house on Chimney Rock Mesa. Their pueblowas high above the others, the highest Anasazi settlement known anywhere, and the mostnortheastern of the sites colonized by the Chacoans. Some Chacoan colonies seem tohave been built in positions where they could see the fires of other colonies at night , or,perhaps, send signals to each other. The people of Taos Pueblo in New Mexico claim Chimney Rock as one of theirancestral homes and say that the two rocks pinnacles are a shrine to the Twin Was Gods.The Anasazi were interested in calendrical astronomy as a means to tell when to plant theircrops. Religious ceremonies were related to movements of sun, moon and stars in theheavens, just as the same movements as changes of seasons determined their lives. At

Chimney Rock they found a natural lunar observatory. Every 18 years the full moon risesbetween the two pinnacles as viewed from the village. This occurs at the time of lunarstandstill, the time when the moon rises at its furthest point north of east. The Chacoanpueblo at Chimney Rock may have been a prehistoric research institute, similar in part toStonehenge in Great Britain. Dr. Frank Eddy, who has excavated some Chimney Rock sites, feels that thecolonists who moved here may have been priests, all male, because they brought onlymasculine talents with them; for example, the style of masonry, a man s task, is clearlyChacoan. However, the residents of Chimney Rock did not produce typical Chacoanpottery, a woman s occupation. Replicas of pots found at Chimney Rock Produced by Clint Swink, a local potterwho specializes in making copies of Anasazi pottery, show a Chacoan style pot, provingthat there was ongoing trade between the two social centers. Other artifacts found atChaco Canyon but made at Chimney Rock Reinforce the trade and cultural links. Evidence that the Chacoan pueblo was planned and built as a whole is shown bythe continuous rear wall. The masonry was laid down on bedrock, leading archaeologiststo believe that the stones and the dirt used for the mud mortar were hauled up from below. The Chacoans stayed at Chimney Rock for only about 50 years. Their pueblo wasabandoned no later than 1125 A.D. It is thought that the other residents deserted theregion at about the same time. Both the pueblo and the village buildings were burnedabout the same time. Chaco Canyon itself was abandoned over a period of years between1130 and 1150 A.D. The Anasazi moved frequently when local resources became depleted. Even thestunning cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde were occupied for less than a century. However,the cause of their abandoning the entire Colorado Plateau was probably due to a severedrought that occurred between 1276 and 1299. When the rains failed to come, theiragriculture faltered and they were forced to leave. The Anasazi must have abandoned thishomeland reluctantly. The former inhabitants of Chimney Rock may have moved to the Rio Grandearea to join the Taos Pueblo, or they may have been one of the groups that temporarilyreoccupied Chacoan ghost towns. For example, the ruins at Aztec, New Mexico werebuilt by people from Chaco about 1100, abandoned by 1150, but reoccupied andremodeled by Northern San Juan Anasazis from 1200 to nearly 1300 A.D. Someinteresting evidence recently discovered by Dr. Kim Malville at Mesa Verde may showthat some Chimney Rock Anasazi moved there after leaving their homes below thepinnacles. Today Chimney Rock is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. It was made aNational Historic Site in 1970. In 1987 afire lookout tower that had been abandoned inthe 1950 s was rebuilt. The tower provides a viewpoint comparable to the one that theChacoans must have had from the top of their two-storied pueblo. Ranger-led tours arethe only way to wee the ruins. The area is closed except for tours to preserve the delicatestructures and to protect critical wildlife habitat. Visitors from all parts of the country and across the world are intrigued by thearchaeological mysteries of Chimney Rock. Special occasions, such as the annual openhouse or a moonrise talk by Dr. Kin Malville, who originated the theory of the importanceof the lunar standstill at Chimney Rock, attract late crowds. Many consider Chimney Rock the most spectacular of all the Anasazi sites, and bythe magnificant architecture and ruins, who would argue that?BIBLIOGRAPHYGreer, William W. Chaco Canyon. Johnson Books 1995. Boulder, Colorado 80302


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