TM (Travel Mug) recently took a glimpse back in time at the ancestral home of the Pueblo and Hopi people at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico. Built around 900 AD, Chaco Canyon was thought to be inhabited by as many as 6000 Anasazi people at its peak. While it is still unclear why they left this area, the ruins continue to reveal the secrets of the people who inhabited this area for over 300 years. They constructed 15 complexes, one of which had over 650 rooms. The largest buildings in North America until the 1900’s, these complexes were thought to be the epicenter for trade, community, and spiritual ceremonies for the people of this region.
As we walked through the unearthed ruins, I was most interested in the astronomical considerations given to the building of the complexes. The orientation of each site has significance. The windows were also aligned to let in light on the solstices during their ceremonies.
Hundreds of petroglyphs also give clues to the lives of the people here. The most famous depicts the Crab Nebula super nova. The light was so bright at peak, that it could be seen during the day. This petroglyph was the initial reason I became interested in this site, and it will be the reason I return. We underestimated the heat (TM was sweating profusely) , and we were unprepared for the 6 hour hike. Fortunately, there was more than enough to keep us occupied …
Fajada Butte (below) is home to the controversial sun dagger site, which marks the arrival of the sun at the solstices and equinoxes. You can see the sun dial on the top left of the butte.
TM and I were enchanted by this incredible place, and we look forward to returning! See TM’s other adventures here on our blog, and on the big map!