Archaeoastronomy, Chaco Canyon, NM

Between AD 900 and 1150, Chaco Canyon located in New Mexico and the American Southwest was a major center of culture for the ancient Pueblo peoples.   Chacoans quarried sandstone blocks and hauled timber from great distances, assembling fifteen major complexes that remained the largest buildings in North America until the 19th century.

ichacocanyonMany Chacoan buildings may have been aligned to capture the solar and lunar cycles, requiring generations of astronomical observations and centuries of skillfully coordinated construction. Climate change is thought to have led to the emigration of Chacoans and the eventual abandonment of the canyon, beginning with a fifty-year drought commencing in casarinconadaatdarkjpeg    WarriorsFremontMoab1130. In future blogs, I will discuss how we as modern civilization can learn sustainability principles from ancient cultures in dealing with major climate change.

I have taken many EarthWalks journeys to Chaco, and some were to observe the amazing phenomena on Summer Solstice when the first light of dawn strikes an interior niche in the large kiva of Casa Rinconada (see photo of this and aerial overview)

At a large butte in the canyon there is a petroglyph with two spirals. At spring and fall equinoxes, a spear of light bisects the one of the spirals. There is some evidence that lunar events are marked here as well.

What is the purpose for these incredible alignments?  There are many thoughts and ideas, but I suggest you journey to the sacred landscape of Chaco yourself and experience the Canyon in its silent conversation.

Perhaps you will discover an “inner alignment” that will assist in your own personal questions and search.  If you have your own thoughts, please add them to this conversation.  And if I can assist you or your group create a special journey to Chaco, let me know. More: info@earthwalks.org

4 thoughts on “Archaeoastronomy, Chaco Canyon, NM

  1. Quote: Many Chacoan buildings may have been aligned to capture the solar and lunar cycles, requiring generations of astronomical observations and centuries of skillfully coordinated construction.

    Who wrote this? It is without question that these alignments were made, not may have been. The studies by the Solstice Project alone brought much of that to light, pun intended, and the light dagger within the spirals on Fajada Butte is aligned to the moon as well as the sun. Then there is a significant camp of people who deny the possibillity of Chaco Canyon being a permanent residence of thousands of inhabitants. Not enough resources. Just like in modern Lincoln County, NM, pop. ~22,000, there are not enough resources for any more.

    Please also note that there a few who believe the Aztec artifacts found at Chaco denote a oneway trip, not minimal trade, for there are structures found in areas controlled by Aztecs in Central and South America quite similar to Pueblo Bonito. IMO this article and the story narrated by Robert Redford is a travesty and restrictive to gaining any understanding of what really happened there.

    • Hi Michael,
      Was just re-reading your comment about Chaco in February, and I concur. Earth Walks is going to Canyon de Chelly, AZ for a three night journey in September that includes hiking (optional) into the Canyon, two nights camping, service on a family farm in the Canyon and a day at Spider Rock. Last night is a motel (free camping available next door if you choose). Let me know if you might be interested. Happy Trails,
      Doug

  2. Thank you for sharing this information. I’m very interested in sites of this nature all over the world. It’s very common to have the structures established in such a way that they in some way interact with the cycles of the moon as well as the sun and other stars. That’s simply because they understood that that’s what sustains the life on this planet, as opposed to today’s “modern” man, who believes it’s the iPhone that sustains him 😀

    • Hi Denis,
      I just re-read your message from February and wanted to say how much I agree with your comment. An example: people checking iPhones to see what the weather is, when they could just walk outdoors. Ha! Earth Walks is going to Canyon de Chelly, AZ for a three night journey in September that includes hiking (optional) into the Canyon, two nights camping, service on a family farm in the Canyon and a day at Spider Rock. Last night is a motel (free camping available next door if you choose). If you might be interested, let me know. Happy Trails, Doug

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