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Star Cities I have heard the Four Corner archeoastronomy sites called. I suppose that's a good way to look at these prehistoric locales where the Ancestral Puebloans, like all other star-gazing people on the planet, first looked to the sky for direction about their respective temporal home: Earth.

So begins, yet ends, the special series on archeoastronomy, and what some of you might even say is everything you always wanted to know about the subject. . .or not.

Still, the foundation of this broad and engaging subject, as presented in the original Chaco Canyon diary series, merely touched upon a very complicated narrative that also left many questions unanswered. But not the kind of unanswered question the composer Charles Ives presented in his 20th Century composition some of you might want to play while reading what follows:

Given what follows, let us remain in the present, and this time think about the stupendous achievements of a so-called primitive society––primitive, yes, but only in a relative sense. In my view, anyone who could gaze at the stars, observe the cycles of Nature, follow sun beams tracking across precisely engraved or painted images on rocks, indeed, build dwellings that were perfectly aligned to the sun or moon. . .these are truly advanced people.

That being said we are about to learn other interests and aspects of these prehistoric star gazers and infer what such events meant relative to their cosmology and temporal beliefs. For instance, these kind of observations. . .

(Continues after the fold.)

An Honored And Exclusive Tradition: Concerning what we know about the cosmology of the Ancestral Puebloans, much can be learned from their practices and the eternal to temporal calendar they diligently contrived and followed. Our own Gregorian calendar has benefited from the foundation it built that also was based upon previous foundations of similar thought. Sadly, the chronometer in its various forms rules our technological society today, just as the gulf between our awareness of the lunar and solar cycles is leading Western man to lose the notion of natural cyclical time and its important relationship with space. While the solar year has a strong influence on plants and animals, this peculiar and guiding force does not fully explain the scope of their behavior. Nor does it aid our own self-discovery. Understanding how the physics of space and time intertwine with biology, specifically the aforementioned biological time factor, which also includes our own lives. All this natural guidance has been lost over the eons.

In more recent years, both professionals and laymen, as well as native tribal people have turned to archeoastronomy for answers. Specifically, the knowledge that entails solstices and equinoxes. This science is one means we may look back in time at ancient cultures that had increased their knowledge and advanced their societies in many ways. Being in touch with the cosmos is what gave them the power of prognosis to some degree. At Chaco, the alignment of its many dwellings, both solar and lunar, had something to do with their well-ordered minds, indeed, the reason they built this great complex where they did.

This landmark might as well be considered the most significant in Chaco Canyon:

And so the question so many people ask about Fajada Butte and its connection, indeed, a special correlation, with Chaco Canyon's building and layout, states the obvious: Would Chaco Canyon's settlement be the special place it is if Fajada Butte was not its most notable landmark? Moreover, those three large slabs of stone leaning against the southeastern-facing cliff near its summit, and the world famous Sun Dagger twin spiral petroglyphs, would also be sorely missing in the picture. Why else build the many structures in Chaco Canyon's periphery without the guiding light and shadow markings that elevate the twin spirals to the penultimate of all prehistoric markings? There are also two other sites on the butte that are located not too far below the Sun Dagger glyphs. These five distinctive glyphs are also marked by visually engaging patterns of shadow and light movement across their pecked surfaces. These people came here with a vision, perhaps a plan that was fostered by a priest or shaman that may also have been guided here by a dream or some other means. One must therefore infer Chaco, the setting, was task-specific in its planned purpose and studies of the arrival of both solstices and equinoxes. Not only was the sun followed and scrutinized, but also the moon's18- to 19-year cycle, the so-called lunar minor standstill (see below for more details) just as the moon rises, and at its other extreme marking precisely 9.5 years later comes the lunar major standstill (see below for more details).

Here's yet another question that begs the first: What if those slabs and spirals were never found? Would cultural scientists know the reason why people came to this naked and distant desert landscape in present-day northwest New Mexico? The discoverer, Anna Sofaer, made such a fantastic discovery in 1977. It was also she who first recorded the passing light and shadows across the celebrated twin spirals. That was on her second visit and the dagger of light that bisecting one of the spiral she observed marked the summer solstice.

Everything that these people did revolved around this butte and the science of prediction, including the specific solar or lunar alignment of most dwellings entailed in Chaco Canyon's ceremonial purpose for this particular cultural group of Ancestral Puebloans.

Having Faith In The Reading Of The Stars: For us today the question can be asked how much importance is placed on the stars other than those who believe in the strangeness of astrology? Singling out one of those bright lights in the dark sky, one might also ask how important is the sun––chiefly, our sun? We know that it makes life on earth possible. Its relative size, distance from the earth, intensity, stability, gravity and our own orbit and rotational axis about it equally combines to create ideal conditions for life on this blue planet. It’s likely that in our universe only an infinitesimally small fraction among the billions or trillions of solar systems have planets that aren’t hostile environments. We simply need to put the importance of the sun into proper perspective.

Starting at the bottom of the food chain for the sake of an illustration, plants grow by way of the process of photosynthesis. Tiny insects and other invertebrates feed on these plants as well as decaying matter. Simply put: everything eats everything. I mean, ultimately. Birds, amphibians and fish feed on these small animals, and so it goes further up the food chain. Animals tend to give birth during seasons when food is most plentiful (both for survival of their offspring and/or their own recovery). Understanding the timing of specific temperatures (seasons) over the course of a solar calendar helps us determine the correct time to plant crops, predict the rising of rivers and more.

Exacting Predictions: Depending on the shift of the calendar, the winter solstice occurs on December 21 or 22 each year in the northern hemisphere (and June 20 or 21 in the southern hemisphere). The summer solstice occurs on June 21 or 21 in the northern hemisphere (and December 21 or 22 in the southern hemisphere). At these dates, the sun changes little in declination from one day to the next. Indeed, it appears to remain in one place north or south of the celestial equator. To predict a solstice the way the Ancestors did required astute observations over time. However, considering the more technical aspects of such prediction, it’s amazing these people were able to do what they did using primitive means.

The Fundamental Importance Of The Solstice: Why was there such interest in knowing when the longest day of the year arrived, which defines the summer solstice, and the converse, shortest day, the winter solstice? Apart from the obvious, meaning the days are longer during the advent of the summer solstice, the temperature is warmer, and continues to get hotter over the next few months, the sun is also higher in the sky. Hence, the sun's rays are more vertical which provides more direct sunlight and less atmospheric cooling. The opposite is true around the winter solstice. We can only assume the science of such prediction was manifest in the two extremes of each solstice. We can also assume the solstice, like the equinoxes, or even lunar predictions, held special importance for practical society benefits (i.e., when to hunt or plant or find game or gather edible plants, and so on). For those other cultural and global societies that depended on fish for part (or all) of their sustenance, knowing when the fish are on the move or else laying still in the water is apparently noteworthy. For the Ancestral Puebloans, however, this was not the case. Obviously! Nevertheless, other factors relating to hunting, lighting, and when game were on the move was equally important. Everything else relating to the change of seasons was important in the sense of social praxis. We also learn from their successors how there was religious relevance to these changing seasons, thereby entwining the practical with the religious.

Predicting the equinoxes also entail two other important factors for the Ancestral Puebloans (and naturally the same goes for all people invested in such predictive and natural means). At both times, the sun’s position during the day and night are equal in length in all parts of the planet. For instance, the vernal equinox marks the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere. The days succeeding this seasonal change therefore lengthen (in amount of daylight time) a little more each day until the longest day at the summer solstice. From that point the days begin to shorten. Yet the days are longer than the nights until the autumnal equinox, after which nights become longer than the days. These passing days also continue losing daylight until the shortest day of the year at the winter solstice.

Other Predictive Capabilities: Without having the technical ability to gauge either the solar equinoxes or solstices these ancient sky watchers, may also have charted the positions of the stars to keep their place in time (practiced by Mesopotamians, Babylonians and Greeks among other civilizations). Thus stars expressed a utility beyond their scintillating effect upon the senses. These heavenly bodies also appear to move in regular routines at predictable times of the year, and we assume the Ancestors took note of this. (The same goes for planets.) Like the brightest star in the night sky, Sirius, was to the ancient Egyptians (see below for more detail), Polaris, the North Star, likely held sway over the minds of the Ancestral Puebloans:

Although the naming of star constellations doesn't come until many centuries later, it is nonetheless likely these people knew the changing geography of stars above their heads, at least the more prominent outlines, and the same with the routine of visiting planetary objects in the relative closer view of the cosmos.

In any given quadrant there are more than one thousand bright to brighter stars plainly visible to the naked eye, although some are obviously brighter than others (which account for the five thousand or so stars that are somewhere in the stellar neighborhood of our solar system). Stars that are clustered and grouped in formations also tend to be more noticeable. Again, we can only assume these ancient and adroit sky watchers with their math oriented minds must have noticed these aspects relating to the routine of the heavens that they observed. This knowledge also relates to the broader subject of archaeoastronomy, which, again, correlates with a prediction of the solstice and equinox events. Many fables handed down to the Ancestral Puebloan successors entail such elaborate stories, some cosmological, others terrestrial, which is, perhaps, the most tangible way of our discerning the prehistoric and historic mindsets.

Expressing The Order Of The Universe: Today, we have empirical evidence that supports the hypothesis that religious motifs undergo changes, which are still preserved in Puebloan traditions. Thus also preserving their past. For example, the role of the Kachinas in Hopi society. The Kachina cult is noted from at least 1325 and some scholars still question whether this cult was part of the indigenous religion of the Hopis, or imported from the Aztecs during the time of the prolonged drought of the late Thirteenth Century. However, many see the cult as coming from Mexico.

Always remember: Hopi kachina dolls are not toys! They are religious emissaries to the Hopis and must always be considered sacred icons.

The import of kachinas serve as moral models to the Hopis, generating a motif of living in the correct way. There are hundreds of these icons relegated as supernatural spirits and who have a positive natural and spiritual influence on the Hopis. For instance, one tribal way of knowing this is whether the people are blessed with rain and a good crop yield. Moreover, the elders of the tribe are given access to greater powers by the Kachinas to help bless the entire world and keep it in balance. Non-Hopis however, should they have access to the same powers, would lead to, what the Hopis call, Koyaanisqatsi, meaning a life out of balance. Ultimately, such a misguided way of life ends in the destruction of this, the "Fourth World" (according to Hopi belief).

Nature’s Tracking Time And The Role Of Archaeoastronomy: To the Puebloans, as well as the Ancestral Puebloans, Nature plays an integral role in their traditions, as does cosmology. From the Hopi’s “Prayer from the Summer Solstice Celebration” we glean something about how they think and pray which represents, in part, a similar insight held by all Puebloans. This significant prayer, in part, is as follows:

Nature’s means of tracking ‘time’ is in cycles. Consider noting the full moon, the new moon, the solstices, and the equinoxes on your calendar and feel these as ‘clocks’ as well––each one containing energies to serve the earth’s transition points in the year.

Spring Equinox is New Year’s Day! With other’s, bring your ‘resolutions’ and what you wish to ‘seed’ beside the seeding already occurring in the earth.

Summer Solstice is LIGHT! Renew, release, enhance. Celebration! Counting visible blessings. What is ready to release into the light? What in the physical world of yourself and earth do you wish to enhance.

Autumn Equinox––Harvesting; beginning of an inward pull; readying for  new cycles (like seeds); opportunity to feel imbalances and rebalance with self, other and earth.
Winter Solstice––Stillness. Darkness. Purification. Time to surrender to the shadow and invite purification in warmth of fire, friends and faith. It represents the death aspect of rebirth––without it rebirth cannot happen. What can you see more clearly in the dark of night?

Transition points in the month (from this same prayer):

New Moon––it’s like a mini-spring equinox and winter solstice. Energies are more inward and offer opportunity to both reflect and seed? What do you want to grow into its fullness.

Full Moon––it’s like summer solstice and fall equinox. Energies are external. Gratitude. Fertility, harvest, celebration as well as readying to reseed as in fall.

Notice that in all the equinoxes, solstices, and the full and new moons there is both death-ing and birthing energies present––death-ing means the origin of creation. One without the other means growth cannot occur. How are these energies in balance and at one in you at each phase of the cycle?

On this note, here is one of my favorite Hopi prayers that has always meant something special to me, as it is to the Hopis. I trust the import of this prayer will be equally meaningful for the DKos community:

Miscellaneous: Archeological evidence illustrates how humans viewed the cosmos (their differences and similarities), seeking answers to some of their questions or else address specific concerns. These skywatchers followed noted cycles of lighted points in the sky: the sun, moon, stars and some of the more visible planets. Such celestial bodies signified power, perhaps even afforded some comfort, in helping people prognosticate events. For example, after a seventy-day absence from the night sky during the summer solstice, the appearance of the aforementioned Sirius is associated with annual spring flooding. Known as the Dog Star (reflecting its prominence in the constellation, Canis Major), Egyptians based their calendar on its heliacal rising the day it becomes visible. This anticipated event is just before sunrise after moving far enough away from the glare of the sun.

Yet this notable celestial observation for the Egyptians is not viewed in the same way by other cultures. For instance, ancient Greeks held that Sirius’ appearance heralded a hot and dry summer change of weather. Thus, and instead of forecasting flooding, its bright beacon of light signaled debilitating effects on plants and humans (wilting of plants and men weaken while women become aroused). Here in America we traditionally consider Sirius as a stellar icon representing the famed dog days of summer which is neither favorable nor unfavorable. It’s merely a customary attitude. Meanwhile, from the heavens one might discern the woof-woof barking from this notable iconic star:

From this example it’s evident how select planets or stars have governed the seasons for different civilizations throughout recorded history. Indeed, celestial bodies have always affected social attitudes, sometimes good and sometimes bad. Closer to our planetary home earth’s companion moon affects the oceans and creates the ebb and flow of tides. Those ancient civilizations that observed the night sky on a year-round basis learned what to look for, each civilization finding something pertinent to their culture and religious mindset. But it wasn’t just the four acclaimed annual events (the solstices and equinoxes) throughout the year that got their attention. The sun and moon held sway over these people for other reasons, for these were the primary and localized governing bodies that made their cosmology work. In short, the life process for prehistoric people was directly tied to the cosmos. Remarkably, lunar calendars were as predictive as solar light. For some cultures, the dark and light periods of the moon had everything to do with the wellbeing of these ancient societies, or else the exact opposite. It was a complex and localized cosmology that first had to be worked out over time. The changing lunar light was thus carefully noted as though the people read a yes or a no regarding hunting and fishing, even plotting their next migrations to time their arrival with other life forms these people depended on for game.

This testimony brings to mind one of the world’s most famous archeological ruins and its relationship to astronomy, particularly archaeoastronomy, Chaco Canyon. Not only are its major ruins precisely aligned to solar observations, but also the outlier dwellings were based on precise lunar calculations. This makes this special locale the only major archeological site in the Southwest that observes both solar and lunar calculations, and possibly the only site of its kind on the planet.

Well, it's time for me to get to my own time and prepare something else for the Dkos community. . .another diary. . .another theme that I hope will be interesting and informative. Meanwhile, here's a few parting photographs about this intriguing subject that I thought was worth a trinity of diaries to explain.

See this weekend for another virtual tour. . .this time we're heading west off the Colorado Plateau and will explore THE greatest big valley of them all. Can you guess where this destination is?

As always, your thoughtful commentaries are welcomed.


Okay, Scotty. . .beam me up!

Postscript: Although I seldom do any direct quoting in these makeshift missives that I'm posting (extrapolated from larger works of my own compositions), I feel it is only right to list some of the sources that have influenced my research and rethinking about relevant subject matter. Indeed, in most of these sources I have found a wealth of added sources in their respective bibliographies, which, by the way, as a former academician (degreed in Western and Eastern Philosophy) the path to the Ph.D level always follows recommendations from learned others. This is why I particularly pay close attention to this part of any writer's works, for in same is found added verification to the author's authenticity. I just thought I'd mention this news just because. . .

Penprase, Bryan E: The Power of Stars: How Celestial Observations Have Shaped Civilizations

Kelley, David: Exploring Ancient Skies: A Survey of Ancient and Cultural Astronomy

Malville, McKim: A Guide to Prehistoric Astronomy in the Southwest

Aveni, Anthony: Archaeoastronomy in the New World

Krupp, E.C.: In Search of Ancient Astronomies

Childs, Craig: House of Rain

Fiona, Vincent: Lunar Standstills (What's in the Sky?)

Recommended lunar standstill sites:

Recommended archeoastronomy sites:

Originally posted to richholtzin on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 02:21 PM PST.

Also republished by SciTech and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  One question you raised to me the other night (11+ / 0-)

    which I think is quite interesting and begs for an answer (beyond me, I'm afraid) is this:

    Given that the Chacoans were not a literate society (they had a spoken language and they had art, but no alphabet or written numbers) and possessed no abstract system of mathematics as we understand it, how is it they were able to arrive at the conclusions which permitted their very accurate predictions of celestial events?

    Another question follows: Had their culture survived longer, how might their ability to make observations and form conclusions based on more extended observations have progressed? Might they have arrived at systems of abstract thought on cosmology similar or at any rate analogous to our own current theories?

    •  I commented on Rich's (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sfbob, confitesprit

      last entry in this series but have not research handy to back this up (just my own hazy memories of research) that the oral tradition can serve some parts of this function of data gathering, compiling, categorizing, and preserving (via stories). I wish I could share titles with you but am here at work and actually have no real time to look things up. Anyway, based on some genuine studies comparing transcribed orally delivered narratives from American Indians, and comparing these with the written record of events in newspapers and other accounts going back decades, Anglo researchers found that Indian narrators provided descriptions of events that were not only "factually" as accurate as the written documents but were actually richer in detail for such things as weather during that day and such things that the "western" mind-set might interpret as "impressionistic" or marginally relevant. My response is who's to say what's relevant in these cases and what information is not being conveyed through the written tradition that the oral tradition does convey? My sense here is that there is (and was) an awful lot going on among and between the "ancients" to which we've lost access because of our centuries-long orientation toward the written over the spoken word. And the function of memory here is key. How much capacity for memory gets sacrificed by dependence on the written word? I wonder. There is literary speculation on this. I think about Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon, for one, which plays on this theme of memory and oral versus literary (or literate) tradition. In any case, I find this fascinating to think about and believe such wonder (similar to what Rich shares via his "travels") is behind much of what I would call my "faith." Faith that makes it hard for me to trust anyone who does not maintain that sense of wonder in the midst of otherwise primarily intellectual discourse. If wonder is still not there, I believe what's being said will lose it's currency much faster because there will always be more topic that we don't know than we do at any given time on so many topics. I guess that's really speculative and opinionated, however. Thank you.

      I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake. ― Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

      by dannyboy1 on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 05:46:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  your comments. . . (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dannyboy1, confitesprit

        dannyboy1, are relevant and I am sorely tempted to compose a larger diary on what you bring up. . .yet you have hit the crux of a long-standing perspective of oral tradition vs. the written word. I am also wondering if you can work up a diary for our community because you apparently know your way around this somewhat secretive labyrinth entailing select knowledge that has been passed down through the centuries, but in two main veins: that which 'outsiders' can know and that which only the direct lineage of the Ancestral Puebloans know. As I mentioned to one DKos diarist, who is a tribal elder, I feel such knowledge is sacrosanct for a reason and avoid stepping into that quagmire. I report on an objective perspective given my historical analysis and thought. Anyway, I have met some Hopi tribal elders in my past, who claim direct ancestry to the Ancestral Puebloan clans that likely administered the Chaco Canyon site. They remain taciturn and private about the intrigue of Chaco and I readily accept their position. I am no Frank Waters! Anyway, thank you for your insights and comments and I really do hope you will share more of your intuition given your salient remarks in this posting.

        Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

        by richholtzin on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 06:05:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thank you, Rich, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          for the encouragement. I think a major work for a psycho-linguistic approach was Walter Ong's Orality vs. Literacy. I still have it and need to go back and peruse. Much has to have been done both since its appearance and my grad school days, which, in fact, coincide in time. He published the book in 82 and I started taking grad courses in 84. The book caused quite a stir (in the circles I ran in those days at least). Anyway, I'd be glad to get back into this discussion as a contributor on some level. As I mentioned in the other comment I posted on Part II of your series, all of these "recovery" activities involve similar means and even results, gathering and prizing bits and pieces of many pasts and giving them the reverence and honor they always deserved but have not always received.  And trying to share what those fragments "reveal." It is worthy of our energies. d

          I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake. ― Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

          by dannyboy1 on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 06:44:09 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I slept on your comment. . . (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sfbob, confitesprit

      sfbob, and just now I see another commentator has stepped forward and put better words to its answer than what I originally came up with. The fact is, the Ancestral Puebloan culture never succumbed. It has passed onto their successors, the Puebloans, and somewhat secretly in some ways. Just like the Fremont culture, the Hohokam, the Sinagua, and so many others whose names highlight the dimness perceived from the past. . .these people never ceased to exist. Their cultures were absorbed by a changing fabric and geography and mindset by means of cultural synthesis. In fact, we know very little about who the Ancestral Puebloans were before their entry onto the Colorado Plateau sometime before the Common Era. We don't know what name these people called themselves before and after, other than the designate, "Puebloan," comes to us from the influx of the Spanish conquistadors from the 1540s onward, which was the name these interlopers called the villages occupying settlements in New Mexico. Hence, their ancestors were similarly called, only with the former label, "ancestral." Anyway, what archeoastronomy knowledge prehistoric people gained was apt and necessary: a predictive science entailing the four seasons. Their lives similar functioned, like temporal clockworks, and all the rest of what they knew or did amounted to culture and existence and how to live with Nature. Notice we people today tend to oppose Nature, though still having to work with the four changing seasons. Thanks for posting your very interesting comment. I just sort of got carried away given my own chatty response.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 06:15:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think there is a greater point to be gleaned (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        confitesprit, cotterperson

        As a culture, Westerners are prone to assume that letters and numbers are the only clear evidence of literacy and mathematical acumen when it is clear that writing things down is only one way of capturing and communicating the thought processes that go towards making predictions and to constructing instruments which record important events such as the Chacoans and other cultures have left us.

  •  Thank you for this series. (5+ / 0-)

    So much knowledge has been gained and lost, all over the world, as civilizations ebbed and flowed. It's fascinating to see what today's researchers can piece together. But much will remain unknown to us.

    •  spot on. . . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      your remark about "But much will remain unknown to us." The Ancestral Puebloans tell us a lot about their culture, yet so much remains in secret, an enigma, and likely only the Puebloan lineage is privy to ceremonial insights and knowledge, which means held in secret. Thus we'll have only inference to add to the objective account we glean from special archeo. sites, like Chaco. Thanks for posting your comments, foresterbob.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 05:58:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks, Rich! I love astronomy... (4+ / 0-)

    ... and to see this coming from people that lived a long time ago is really amazing.

    Great series. I especially liked the Hopi prayer.

    Reuse and commonality are the keys to a robust and profitable space program.

    by The NM STAR Group on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 06:25:42 PM PST

  •  I have really enjoyed this series. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    palantir, jim in IA, dannyboy1, exterris

    Thank you, Rich!

    Dwell on the beauty of life. ~ Marcus Aurelius

    by Joy of Fishes on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 06:47:02 PM PST

    •  and you are welcomed. . . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Joy of Fishes, and I very much appreciate the support from you and others. I am sure just how the DKos community will take these missives, but apparently I may be finding subject matter of worth and interest and I hope to continue this trend.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 05:55:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Left you a note Rich, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jim in IA

    Another great diary. Thanks!

  •  Lots of tips and recs...for good reasons. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bluedust, confitesprit

    I appreciate the time and effort you invested in this series. It is clear that many readers have enjoyed it. The next step for me is to visit these sites. I will be much better prepared.

    Thank you.

    Predicting is hard...especially the future. ~ Y. Berra

    by jim in IA on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 05:15:33 AM PST

    •  And when you do visit. . . (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jim in IA, confitesprit

      you have a better insight to just how important Chaco and other archeoastronomy sites were to prehistoric people, jim in IA, and like the rest of us, will be astounded at what these people knew and how they went about making sense and order of the Cosmos and their role in its temporal process. Thanks for the support and posting your comments.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 05:54:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent diary, excellent series. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti, confitesprit, KenBee

    Minor OT on your mention of the significance of Sirius/Sothis in the Egyptian calendar. We archaeologists and ancient historians continually wrestle with recorded observations of the rising of Sirius/Sothis as we struggle to link relative chronologies (kings' lists and regnal years) to absolute calendrical dates, especially for the third and second millenia BCE. The variety of absolute chronologies for ancient Egypt and the Near East are related, in part, to differing identifications of the location (latitude, elevation, meteorological conditions) from which the observations of Sirius were made.  

    Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

    by angry marmot on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 05:26:22 AM PST

    •  your comment. . . (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angry marmot, confitesprit

      Do you happen to have, say, something of a summary report on the stance you mentioned above? It is something I am not versed in, though I would be interested to learn more. Sounds like a fascinating ancient sleuth's task, angry marmot. And thank you for your support and commentaries. Means a lot. Truly.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 05:51:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  OK. Now I HAVE to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    get back to work. Thank you, Rich.

    I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake. ― Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

    by dannyboy1 on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 05:48:08 AM PST

  •  Another great series, Rich. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Every since I saw Mystery of Chaco Canyon by Sofaer on a PBS station, I've been fascinated by the association of Chaco to astronomy and, in particular, the amazing sun dagger. Thanks for your take on things.

    I also want to compliment you on your selection of images. They are very complimentary to the narrative, especially those in the 2nd part.  Did you take the pictures of Chaco Canyon during the winter? Those are fantastic.

    I don't get mad. I get stabby!" - Fat Tony D'Amico

    by sizzzzlerz on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 10:37:57 AM PST

    •  thanks for your compliments. . . (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      confitesprit, KenBee, cotterperson

      as always, sizzzzlerz, and I am glad you enjoyed the series. I will have to start labeling which are my own photos and which are liberated and/or edited shots from others (though never using copyrighted photos from any source). I used to like going to Chaco in the winter, so, yes, some photos are always taken (from those years) and I even had a Toyota Land Cruiser to get back into that very quiet place with not a soul around. . .just the friendly spirits of yesterday, so to say. I take it you mean Sofaer, the lucky finder of the slabs?? I once heard her speak at the Univ. of Arizona, I think it was. She mentioned there was always a special draw to the butte and something she followed that day, as though she were 'guided.' I understood her remarks, perfectly. I had the feeling a time or two or three stumbling about Comb Ridge, Comb Wash, and Canyonlands, even some back-backountry of the Grand Canyon, and every time I came across an archaic site, nearly intact, and I just sat and looked at the objects, as though a guest in someone's ancient home of long, long ago. But I never remove such articles, mainly because these are sacred sites, and there is, or can be, bad juju for anyone who does. In her case, the spiral glyph and her amazing discovery. . .I think she was being talked to by the Ancestral Puebloans, and we were all meant to find something new about a very ancient place, yet our knowledge can only extend so far. . .we are not those people or their ancestors. Therefore, a select and discretionary privilege of information is all that we are allowed to have; the rest is merely inference. Anyway, sorry, but sometimes I ramble like this given some of my responses. (Which I am sure you and others are always prepared for anyway.)

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 12:56:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Many thanks for this series. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    exterris, confitesprit

    It's good to know the information is here when we start planning are next trip to the southwest.

    The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

    by ybruti on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 05:30:24 PM PST

    •  thanks for your comment. . . (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ybruti, confitesprit

      ybruti, and if you let me know where you'll be headed when you get here, let me know by way of my profile's email and I will very glad to suggest some places in your time line and the sector you'll be visiting. I used to do this all the time as an eco tourism operator, and since I came to this community and found such a wonderful network of folks out there. . .my past experiences and travels can easily roll over and help you and others. I am happy you found this series to your liking. Truly I am.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Fri Feb 22, 2013 at 07:23:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Commenting so that I am sure to finish reading (0+ / 0-)

    this series.

    Listen to Netroots Radio or to our pods on Stitcher. "We are but temporary visitors on this planet. The microbes own this place" <- Me

    by yuriwho on Sat Feb 23, 2013 at 01:40:47 AM PST

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