Chaco National Park (World Heritage)

The approximately 15 km long Chaco Canyon in New Mexico was the settlement area of ​​the Anasazi Indians from 850 to 1250, who lived here in multi-storey residential complexes, the so-called pueblos. The canyon gave the Chaco culture its name and was its political and religious center. In addition to the remains of the settlement, it contains an extensive network of paths that connected the towns and villages of the widely ramified settlement area of ​​the Chaco culture.

Chaco National Park: facts

Official title: Chaco Culture National Historical Park
Cultural monument: impressive pueblo architecture and an extensive network of more than 400 km of routes with up to 1.5 m deepened in the rock or the ground between satellite and metropolis; Chaco as a center connected with 75 other hamlets, expansion of the Chaco culture over 65,000 km² in the San Juan basin and its fringing mountains; in the large buildings with up to four storeys usually 200, sometimes 800 rooms, including kivas (ritual chambers) and storage rooms; Ritual chamber of Casa Rinconada with a diameter of 19.2 m; Finds of more than 60,000 turquoise fragments and ornaments in all stages of manufacture
Continent: North America; See localcollegeexplorer
Country: USA, New Mexico
Location: Chaco Canyon, between Gallup and Farmington in northwest New Mexico
Appointment: 1987
Meaning: the most important evidence of the so-called Chaco culture

Chaco National Park: history

at 490 Creation of pit-house villages by Paleo-Indian hunters in the Chaco Canyon
around 900 Beginning of the Chaco culture with around
1020-60 Construction of the Pueblo Alto with 85 rooms for a total of five residents
1075-1115 Population increase
after 1130 Decline due to prolonged drought

On the trail of the secret of the Anasazi

In search of settlement land, a group of Mormons moved through the inaccessible northwest of the state of New Mexico in the eighties of the 19th century and made an unexpected discovery: In Chaco Canyon, between rugged cliffs and barren vegetation, they stumbled upon the ruins of huge structures that closed a long-dead civilization.

Based on today’s findings, which are the result of archaeological investigations, it is certain that several self-contained large settlements of the Anasazi must have existed in the rugged wilderness over a millennium ago. Over several stages between the 10th and 12th centuries these Indians developed an astonishing high culture. After they had initially built between 700 and 900 terrestrial dwellings, they subsequently chose above-ground stone buildings as their place to live, before moving their center of life into ravines that were difficult to access. There their so-called cliff settlements arose in sometimes steep canyon walls. They could only be reached via steps and finger holes cut into the rock or via ladders. In the latter half of the 12th century, people abandoned these settlements for reasons unknown. Presumably a decade-long drought forced them to migrate to the Zuni River. The Indians living there today consider themselves to be descendants of the Anasazi just like the Hopi Indians on the three mesas in the Navajo Indian Reservation (Arizona).

In addition to hundreds of small ruins, there are 13 semi-dilapidated complexes on the canyon floor, six of which – Pueblo Bonito, Chetro Ketl, Una Vida, Penasco Blanco, Hungo Pavi and Kin Bineola – represent “small towns under one roof,” as it were. Pueblo Bonito originally consisted of 800 rooms, which were laid out in a huge semicircle on up to five floors. There were also around 30 kivas, round ceremonial rooms that could only be entered through an opening in the flat roof. The fact that it took decades to build Pueblo Bonito suggests that its construction must have been based on a master plan to which several generations of builders felt committed.

If you take a guided tour through the Chaco Culture National Historical Park today, you will be surprised, in addition to the still visible dimensions, mainly by the obvious skill that distinguished the builders: On the one hand, they used almost uncut stones of very different sizes as building material, which were placed on top of each other and with On the other hand, in the Pueblo Bonito they built walls over several floors, which consist of hewn stones that are so precisely joined that there is hardly any space for a match in the cracks.

When aerial photographs were taken of the ruins in the mid-1970s, the scientists noticed lines converging in a star shape towards Chaco, which on closer examination turned out to be a network of roads with main roads up to nine meters wide that led to Aztec, 80 kilometers away. Apparently these connections, which overcame difficult terrain by means of “stairways” such as Jackson Stairway, were built in order to be able to bring trade goods such as turquoise stones from the mines near Santa Fe, for example, and to make it easier for pilgrims to get to the places of pilgrimage in Chaco Canyon. But the network of trails probably served another purpose: the “Race of the Blessed Waters” is said to have taken place on one of the routes leading north.

Chaco National Park (World Heritage)

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