Published by School for Advanced Research Press
In a remote canyon in northwest New Mexico, thousand-year-old sandstone walls waver in the sunlight, stretching like ancient vertebrae against a turquoise sky. This storied place—Chaco Canyon—carries multiple layers of meaning for Native Americans and archaeologists, writers and tourists, explorers and artists. Here, isolation, the arid climate, and dry-laid construction have preserved ruins that are monuments to prehistoric creativity and perseverance. Chaco Canyon draws its power not only from the ancient architecture sheltering beneath its walls, but from the ever-changing light and the far-flung vistas of the Colorado Plateau. Light and shadow, stone and sky come together in the canyon. At the heart of this sky-filled landscape lie twelve massive great houses. The Chacoan landscape, with its formally constructed, carefully situated architectural features, is charged with symbolism. In this volume, Ruth Van Dyke analyzes the meanings and experience of moving through this landscape to illuminate Chacoan beliefs and social relationships.