Chaco Canyon

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A wide alluvium‐floored canyon, 15 km in length, with high steep sides, in northwest New Mexico. Over 2400 archaeological sites have been recorded within the 82 square kilometres of the canyon floor and its immediate surroundings. These document a long history of settlement from Palaeo‐Indian and Archaic times onwards. Most remarkable, however, and sometimes known as the ‘chaco phenomenon’, was a rapid rise in population density and social complexity which began about ad 900 and lasted for some 250 years. In this period people constructed at least twelve large pueblo‐type villages or towns and many smaller settlements of the Anasazi Tradition. They built an extensive road network and water control systems. An elaborate trading network was established for the acquisition of materials and objects from afar.

The largest of the pueblo towns in the canyon is Pueblo Bonito, which covers 1.2 ha. Aerial photographs have revealed roads running out from Chaco Canyon to settlements up to 100 km away. Since no wheels were available at this time the roads must have been for walkers or runners, or perhaps they had a symbolic significance.

http://www.nps.gov/chcu Information about visiting as well as the archaeology of this Pueblo Culture site.


H. Frazier, 1986, People of Chaco: a canyon and its culture. Springfield: Illinois State Museum;S. H. Lekson et al., 1988, The Chaco Canyon community. Scientific American, 259(1), 100–09

Subjects: Archaeology.

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