Chaco canyon


Grade: 84

Language: english


Country: USA


Teachers Comments: WELL WRITTEN

jim barry 11/4/96

The Anasazi, who were named by the Navajos, knew how to chart the

seasons by observing the sky. The biggest mystery of Chaco Canyon is why the

Anasazidecided to leave the home that they had built over so many years. the
one thing

that is quite interesting is that they were able to construct such a
magnificent piece of

architecture without the use of metal tools or any devices with wheels.


Chimney Rock is located about 20 miles west of Pagosa Springs, Colorado. The

construction is composed mainly of sandstone which was laid there more than
65 million

years ago. The district that Chimney Rock is located in consists of 6.12
square miles, has

91 identified areas with a total of 217 different structures.

Most of these areas were grouped into 7 communities that are located at

places within the district. The Anasazi Indians lived in the Piedra Valley
beginning about

the tine of Christ. Most of them lives at lower elevations near the fields
and they farmed

along the water beds, but some moved up onto the higher parts of Chimney Rock

around 925 A.D. They may have moved higher to avoid the cold sink effect that
made the

lower areas colder in the winter, or they may have moved higher to utilize
winter snow as

a water source. Still, most of the fields they planted in spring were along
the waterways

on the floor of the valley or on terraces in the valleys above the river. At
Chimney Rock

the people grew corn and beams, but no squash. Although squash was a mainstay
of their

people in other areas, the growing season was probably too short in this
region for squash

to mature before it was killed by frost.

The population of Chimney Rock is estimated to have been between 1200 and

2000 people. The local Anasazi built in the Northern San Juan Style, each
family or

extended family building its own home. The masonry was similar to that in the

at Mesa Verde.

Great kivas were built in almost every major Anasazi site between 900 and

A.D. One of the several great kivas at Chimney Rock has been excavated. These

structures probably served for community gatherings and rituals. Fourteen

chambers, were found in the floor of this Great Kiva, presumably for the
storage of

ceremonial paraphernalia. Although this Great Kiva has some unique features,
it probably

was 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

in Chaco Canyon. Instead of the scattered type of dwellings found in most

communities at that time, the people at Chaco were building pueblos or great
houses. This

is Pueblo Bonito. They also created more than 400 miles of roads leading to

settlements, or colonies. Chaco seems to have been a focal point in the
trading of

turquoise from many areas of the Southwest with the civilizations in Central

In 1076 the Chacoans built a great house on Chimney Rock Mesa. Their pueblo

was high above the others, the highest Anasazi settlement known anywhere, and
the most

northeastern of the sites colonized by the Chacoans. Some Chacoan colonies
seem to

have 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 their

ancestral 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 their

crops. Religious ceremonies were related to movements of sun, moon and stars
in the

heavens, 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 rises

between the two pinnacles as viewed from the village. This occurs at the time
of lunar

standstill, the time when the moon rises at its furthest point north of east.
The Chacoan

pueblo at Chimney Rock may have been a prehistoric research institute,
similar in part to

Stonehenge in Great Britain.

Dr. Frank Eddy, who has excavated some Chimney Rock sites, feels that the

colonists who moved here may have been priests, all male, because they
brought only

masculine talents with them; for example, the style of masonry, a manís
task, is clearly

Chacoan. However, the residents of Chimney Rock did not produce typical

pottery, a womanís occupation.

Replicas of pots found at Chimney Rock Produced by Clint Swink, a local

who specializes in making copies of Anasazi