Chaco Canyon – Culture and Scope

I wanted to share a few more photos of Chaco Canyon. These aren’t particularly “photographic” in the fine art sense, but are useful to understand the culture and scope of Chaco Canyon.

The Ancestral Puebloans in Chaco Canyon were famed for building roads. These are an interesting proposition, as this society didn’t have horses or the wheel. Nevertheless, these roads radiated out from Pueblo Bonito in perfectly straight lines. And what would they do when these perfectly straight roads encountered an obstacle such as a cliff wall? Go straight up- of course! The photo below shows the Jackson Stairway, rediscovered by famous photographer Henry Jackson. The builders piled up earth to make a ramp to the cliff base, then carved steps directly into the cliff. The small holes are believed to be part of a handrail.

The next set of photos show a little bit of the scale of Pueblo Bonito, the “capital” of Chaco Canyon. The modern fence posts give some idea of the scale of the original walls (the supports were added in modern times). In all likelihood the walls originally extended higher than what is remaining. Pretty impressive for 900-year old buildings!

This final photo shows the size of the entire Pueblo Bonito complex. A few people in the shot give some additional scale.