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Pueblo Bonito

Pueblo Bonito is one of the most extensively researched and commemorated cultural sites in Chaco Canyon. Planned and built in phases in between 850 AD - 1150 AD by Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) individuals, this was structure in Chaco Canyon was the center of the Chacoan world. This empire ultimately covered a large chunk of the contemporary Southwest, consisting of the San Juan Basin of New Mexico, and parts of Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. For over 300 years, Chacoan Culture unified the populations of a large area within its sphere of impact.

The Greatest of the Great Houses

For about 300 years (850-1150) Chaco Canyon, in north-western New Mexico, was the location of a couple of thousand Anasazi Indians who formed the core of a political, spiritual, and business empire. It included modern-day New Mexico, and spread out to include Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. Chaco was a ritualistic city (Lekson 1999) and its Great Houses, instead of residential homes (other than perhaps for political or spiritual leaders), were devoted to different functions, possibly storage of grain and other foods items for redistribution, and perhaps even as hotels for usage of visitors who came for political, business, or ritualistic events. Started around 850, by the middle of the 12th century Pueblo Bonito had grown to over 600 spaces with 40 kivas, covered some 2 and one-half acres, and, in some parts, stood greater than 4 stories.

From Pit Homes to Great Houses

For centuries the Anasazi resided in pit homes, partly immersed structures covered with a thatched and adobe roofing system supported by a wood structure. Now a structure made from sandstone blocks, held together by adobe mortar, was rising from the dry and windswept floor of Chaco Canyon, demonstrating these Anasazi were competent designers, engineers, and masons. Though the plaster is gone, the walls still stand, while practically all other building and construction has melted back into the beautiful earth. Today's pueblos, including Taos, Acoma, Hopi, and others, are brilliant reminders of the determination of Chaco's impact and power that Pueblo Bonito preceded. (Ortiz 1994:69). There are more intriguing reminders of the Chacoan People, unique masonry patterns; room-size racks; "elite" artifacts, such as copper bells, macaws, and shell precious jewelry.

Native American Religion in Early America, Divining America, TeacherServe®, National Humanities Center
Native American tribes in North Dakota have their own distinct origins, history and language, but they all had and still have the same behavior, with the exception of the Nakota (commonly known as Sioux). The tribes of the plain are united by fundamental beliefs and values derived from their history and culture. read more
History & Culture - Chaco Culture National Historical Park (U.S. National Park Service)
For all the remote charm of Chaco Canyon's high-desert landscape, its brutally long winter season, ultra-brief growing season, and scare rains make it an unlikely location for the Capitol of Anasazi / Ancestral Puebloan culture. Utilizing masonry methods never before seen in North America, they built huge, complex stone structures (multi-story Great Houses) consisting of numerous rooms much bigger than any the Anasazi had formerly constructed. read more
Ancient Observatories: Chaco Canyon
High atop the dramatic Fajada Butte at the entryway to Chaco Canyon is the most enigmatic and celebrated of Chaco's sites. There, a set of spiral petroglyphs pecked into a cliff face behind 3 huge pieces of sandstone rock functions as a sophisticated solar marker. read more

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