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Significance of Chaco Canyon - Research Paper Example

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The Significance of Chaco Canyon Name: University/ Institution Class: Archeology of the American Southwest The Significance of Chaco Canyon Introduction Chaco Canyon, a well-known archeological area “situated in the San Juan Basin, a major geographical configuration” (Lister & Lister, 1981, p.179), is located in northwestern New Mexico, in the American Southwest known as the Four Corners where the states of New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Arizona meet…
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Significance of Chaco Canyon
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Download file to see previous pages Archeological explorations began at Chaco Canyon at the end of the 19th century by the archeologists Richard Wetherill and George H. Pepper. Since then, increasing interest in the site led to the undertaking of several excavation projects in both small and large sites in the region under the sponsorship of national organizations like the American Museum of Natural History, the National Geographic Society and the Smithsonian Institution. Further, the imminent southwestern archeologists who have conducted projects at Chaco Canyon include Stephen Lekson, Jim Judge, Neil Judd, Gwinn Vivian, and Thomas Windes (Fagan, 2005). Chaco Canyon was a multi-site community dating from A.D. 900-1150, and believed to originate from earlier times. The archeology of the canyon has been interpreted in different ways by various archeologists and investigators. Taking into consideration the limited arable land in the region of Chaco Canyon, its population size and the consequent implications on Puebloan self-sufficiency have been debated. According to Nelson (1995), arguments related to local socio-political organization and the extent to which Chaco Canyon settlements played a dominant role in the region are based on the archeology of the ancient historic site. Thesis Statement: The purpose of this paper is to investigate the significance of Chaco Canyon, the ancient archeological site which had dominated the region at that time. The Significance of Chaco Canyon Chaco Canyon is a circular, saucer-shaped depression approximately one hundred miles in diameter. The canyon’s relatively flat landscape inclines at the mountains bordering the region on the north, east, and west, while the south did not have a well-defined edge to the San Juan Basin and has a series of uplifts. “The San Juan River and its tributaries carry runoff from the basin to the Colorado River to the west” (Lister & Lister, 1981, p.179). Chaco Canyon: Unique Features Chaco Canyon is one of America’s richest archeological zones. The region is subjected to great extremes in temperature, it is devoid of trees and year-round running water, and the canyon’s sandy bases are cut deep by an arroyo or rift. At present, the terraces above have saltbrush, snakeweed, prickly pear cactus, and stunted grasses. In this forlorn region the canyons have walls of “treacherously spalling tawny sandstone” (Lister & Lister, 1981, p.3) apparently uninviting to farmers from settling down in the canyon. This is reiterated by Roberts (1929), who states that the canyon itself is quite narrow, less than a mile wide at its widest point. Its walls are of red sandstone, and the mesa tops above are almost barren, with a few stunted cedar and pinon trees, sagebrush, and scanty grass; but with pines smaller trees near its upper end. “In all directions, the region is marked by shifting sand, great dry washes, deep arroyos, and a lack of vegetation” (Roberts, 1929, p.9). Remarkably, this was the chosen site for the early Puebloan people, as indicated by the eleven large pueblo ruins and the countless numbers of small houses spread over the canyon. Although today there is no settlement in Chaco Canyon, Navajo herdsmen eke out a bare living in the perimeters of the area. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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