Posted in U.S.A. - New Mexico

New Mexico U.S.A. – Chaco Culture National Historical Park

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Chaco Canyon is one of the most ethereal places I’ve ever visited.  I first visited this very remote National Park Service reservation during an archaeology field trip sponsored by my college almost twenty years ago.  The last sixty miles or so of the journey was (and still is) down a heavily-rutted dirt-packed road without a gas station or eatery to be found.  The difficulty involved in visiting is one of the things that make this area so attractive to me – the almost complete lack of tourists!  In fact, I enjoyed my visit to Chaco Canyon and elsewhere in New Mexico that just a year later I made the move from Kansas City to Albuquerque.  The experience of living there changed my life forever.  I doubt that had I not moved to New Mexico I would have ever ended up in Thailand.

These twelve cards were purchased at the NPS Visitor’s Center at Chaco Culture National Historical Park as a set, the cover of which is pictured above.

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CHACO CULTURE National Historical Park, New Mexico
A view of the McElmo style masonry at Kin Kietso. The softer, light colored sandstone used at this ruin is a distinctive characteristic of McElmo phase architecture.

Photographer – Laurence Parent
© 1992 Impact, Mesa AZ 85204


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CHACO CULTURE National Historical Park, New Mexico
Chetro Ketl and Pueblo Bonito are less than three-tenths of a mile apart. These two pueblos, along with several smaller structures, may have been interconnected by masonry walls.

Photographer – Laurence Parent
© 1992 Impact, Mesa AZ 85204


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CHACO CULTURE National Historical Park, New Mexico
The Talus Unit built against the mesa behind Chetro Ketl incorporates a landing for a prehistoric stairway on the Alto-Chetro Ketl road. This site may have been part of a Pueblo Bonito-Chetro Ketl architectural complex in prehistoric times.

Photographer – Russ Finley
© 1992 Impact, Mesa AZ 85204


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CHACO CULTURE National Historical Park, New Mexico

This view of Kin Kietso is from the Pueblo Alto Trail.  Built in two stages from A.D. 1125-1130, it is a classic McElmo style pueblo with rooms organized into a compact rectangle with no plaza.

Photographer – Russ Finley
© 1992 Impact, Mesa AZ 85204


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CHACO CULTURE National Historical Park, New Mexico

Pueblo Bonito was severely damaged in 1941 when “Threatening Rock” buckled and fell, propelling massive sandstone boulders through the ruin walls.  Approximately sixty-five rooms in the northeastern section of the ruin were crushed in the disaster.

Photographer – Russ Finley
© 1992 Impact, Mesa AZ 85204


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CHACO CULTURE National Historical Park, New Mexico

Tri-wall structures are unique in the Chaco area.  They are more common in the large architectural complexes north of Chaco, in the San Juan River drainages and Mesa Verde area.  They date from the mid-1100s to the late 1200s.

Photographer – George H.H. Huey
© 1992 Impact, Mesa AZ 85204


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CHACO CULTURE National Historical Park, New Mexico

Wood beams from the well-preserved Chacoan ruins provide archaeologists with tree-ring dates.  These dates can then be used to trace development and construction sequences in Chaco Canyon.

Photographer – Russ Finley
© 1992 Impact, Mesa AZ 85204


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CHACO CULTURE National Historical Park, New Mexico

In the winter snow accentuates the beauty of the ruin walls.  As beautiful as it is, the snow can be devastating to walls because as it melts, moisture seeps into the core, freezes, and causes the rock and mortar to break apart.

Photographer – Russ Finley
© 1992 Impact, Mesa AZ 85204


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CHACO CULTURE National Historical Park, New Mexico

Small kivas or round rooms are common features in the Chacoan ruins.  Some scholars speculate that small kivas may have functioned as living rooms in addition to ceremonial chambers.

Photographer – Laurence Parent
© 1992 Impact, Mesa AZ 85204


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CHACO CULTURE National Historical Park, New Mexico

A lush summer sunrise at Pueblo Bonito.  The southeast section of the ruin pictured here was built between A.D. 1075 and 1085.  Construction of Pueblo Bonito began in the mid-800s.

Photographer – Laurence Parent
© 1992 Impact, Mesa AZ 85204


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CHACO CULTURE National Historical Park, New Mexico

This small door with a sill high above floor level is one of several types of Chacoan doorways.  Cores removed from the lintels spanning the width of this doorway were used to date the wood, providing information into the age of the ruin.

Photographer – Laurence Parent
© 1992 Impact, Mesa AZ 85204


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CHACO CULTURE National Historical Park, New Mexico

T-shaped doorways, like this one at Pueblo Bonito, generally lead into plazas, terraces, or into special features like tower kivas.

Photographer – Russ Finley
© 1992 Impact, Mesa AZ 85204

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