Yesterday's introduction to archeoastronomy has hopefully opened minds to the essentials of what prehistoric people thought about the cosmos and their temporal placement in its greater context. (Although it was reposted by several influential Daily Koss speciality groups, I guess they are called, this diary (for those who missed reading it) is now available only in my profile's archives, but can also be directly assessed at this URL: http://www.dailykos.com/....)
Today we will return to the past (as time travel visitors), specifically more eavesdropping on what's happening during Chaco Canyon's solstice and equinox events. This time we will shiver with them during the onset of winter and the shortest day of the year: December 21. There is still much to learn about their ancient practices and how such seemingly primitive minds were elevated to a great degree simply by applying basic mathematics and scientific principles. Saying this is more or less akin to what most of us today know how to use a computer or smart phone, yet understanding very little all the steps that were involved in the process of creating such innovations. Thus do we see a steady advancement through the centuries of a people walking through time benchmarked by conclusive eras nothing cultural and personal innovations. For instance, the Pecos Classification system that begins with the Archaic, transitions through the Basketmaker, and thence to the many tiers depicting the five Puebloan eras. (if interested in this particular subject matter, please read my Archeological Timeline diary: http://www.dailykos.com/...).
Chaco's stone haven redoubt fastened by time and a fixated mindset geared to seasonal ceremony in harmony with the great eye of the cosmos overhead suffuses the nature and purpose of this remote archeoastronomy site laid out in today's San Juan Basin of northwest New Mexico. The seasonal star gazers and gatherers who designed Chaco's layout stood their patient and astute watches around two of the most important seasons: the summer and winter solstice. In between, the pivotal vernal and autumnal equinoxes evenly quartered the year, each change of season bringing a change to the people, as well as to the land their stewardship had cultivated over many centuries. They found a way to harmonize with the clockworks of sidereal time and temporality. Ceremony and tradition is what made the Ancestral Puebloans whole and functional as a sustainable community.
(Continues after the fold.)
The question remains: Was Chaco's appeal as a likely mecca based on religious ceremony intended solely for a religious purpose (or by whatever similar and sedulous designate one prefers)? For instance, could Chaco's compound also have been fabricated to also function as an outpost for imports (mainly pottery and jewelry acquired by trade) or food storage coming from far south of the Colorado Plateau and extending well to the north? There is indeed a strong Mayan influence behind Chaco Canyon's design; there was indeed a collection of assorted pottery found here that came from all sectors of the Southwest, including Mesoamerica.
Meanwhile, we know between 900 and 1150 or thereabouts that Chaco was a pivotal axis of culture for the Ancestral Puebloans; we know the Chacoans quarried sandstone blocks and hauled timber (mainly, ponderosa pine) from great distances, all the materials assembled into fifteen major complexes which remained the largest dwellings in North America until the 19th Century; we know it was a seasonal place where various communities gathered; and we know the puzzle of its remote setting has everything to do with Chaco's solar and lunar alignment given most of its perfectly aligned dwellings. Beyond such insight we also realize the greater obscurity manifested in Chaco's unique archive of stone structures that may trace its development into, say, the Hopi tribal people, who for the most part remain taciturn and private about the Hisatsinom (their preferred designate for the Ancestral Puebloans) and Chaco Canyon's enduring mystery. In short, there is only so much we outsiders can know about a long-standing chronicle of an ancient people that today is only partially gleaned, especially by cultural scientists.
A picture of Old Oraibi, the oldest continually inhabited village in North America:
Historic 1920s photograph:
With these above remarks in mind, let us delve into the implications of Chaco's predictive science by way of solstice and equinox events. We at least know these people could accurately say when the four major quarters of the year changed. Those predictions have everything to do with Fajada Butte and select slabs of rocks and engraved diagrams in the butte, as well as a matchup with Pueblo Bonito's solar-alignment dwelling laid out far below and away from this lofty landmark serving as a direct beacon point for the cosmos.
So here we are. . .observers observing the observers (this time depicted in a diary mostly backed up by images). Take a look around and get into the mood by the wintry scene. . .
Imagine this structure has a roof and is completely intact:
Imagine the interior is without snow. . .
The people are gathered in many kivas in the compound, waiting. . .
You. . .are. . .here:
The Observation Phase (Depicted In Pictures):
The night sky holds wonder for these people. . .
The heavens are not so much distant and unreachable as they are guiding lights for a temporal way of life. . .
There is a connection from the temporal to the eternal these people realize at some arcane level. . .
And this star light in particular. . .
And they patiently wait for that light to reach their temporal shores. . .
Eventually, a directed beacon of light will reach an intentional temporal point, like this:
Or perhaps a glyph target like this:
A preciseness of mathematics by way of astute observation and planning that may have taken generations for these people to have mastered:
Thus a reliable and primal calendar without fail! And this ubiquitous archeoastronomy glyph found here and elsewhere in the world. . .
. . .is a correlation for this commonly seen image in the night's sky, however distant, however vague its impression to the senses. . .
Now you know some of the meaning behind the glyphs, though some knowledge remains hidden.
As William Blake wrote: To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour. Only substitute a wild flower for a sun or a galaxy of suns. . .
We outsiders to these celestial and temporal affairs may not know all that there is to know, but these Puebloan dancers of today retain such secrets as revealed in their traditions and ceremonies. They are, after all, the direct descendants of the Ancestral Puebloans and therefore entrusted with a long-standing legacy of entitlement.
May I also suggest a venerable adage from the East that says: Do not presume to walk in my mind with your dirty feet! In other words, what concepts we may have about these people and their connection to the distant past remains a private matter pertaining to their legacy.
Let us retrace our steps outside. . .
. . .returning to the snow laden kivas and other dwellings. . .
. . .while holding the image of the dancers in mind. . .
. . .and taking note of the blue sky and everything around us.
Meaning, we realize there are three more important celestial events yet to come and will be celebrated in such places throughout the year. . .
. . .and by such people. . .
. . .who lived in such places. . .
. . .all of whom had no written language, yet left us their signature art. . .
. . .depicting anthropomorphic or alien-like figures. . .
. . .and sometimes a likeness of an indelible imprint on their consciousness.
Thus a likely meaning of circular time, impermanence in all things, in all ways, and the matrix of the entire cosmos of which we are all part.
So, what do you say we get back to the future by whatever means you traveled here today. . .
And don't forget these dudes, Scotty. . .beam 'em up:
Hope you folks enjoyed a different way of grasping archeoastronomy's process. Look forward to seeing you in tomorrow's final installment.
As always, your thoughtful commentaries are welcomed.