Mesa Verde to Chaco: Ancestral Pueblo World
With Dr. Joe Suina, Dr. Wolky Toll and Dr. John Ware
May 11-16, 2008
Something extraordinary happened a thousand years ago in a shallow canyon in the heart the San Juan Basin of northwestern New Mexico. Puebloan peoples constructed over a dozen elaborate Great Houses of stone reaching three to four stories above the desert floor. Within just a few generations, masonry Great Houses were built by Pueblo communities throughout the San Juan Basin and beyond to eventually encompass portions of four adjacent states. The Chaco Phenomenon remains one of the great mysteries of North American archaeology. Why did ancient Puebloans build monuments whose construction required the quarrying and shaping of thousands of tons of sandstone from canyon walls and the hauling of over 200,000 pine logs from mountain slopes 60 miles away, all to build a dozen 300-600 room edifices that housed only a handful of people? Why did ancestral Puebloan communities over a geographic region the size of New England build community centers that emulated these monumental structures? Was it political hegemony, economic imperialism, or religious fervor that inspired the architects of Chaco and their emulators? Amerind’s spring tour to the northern Southwest will spend two days in “Downtown Chaco” in search of answers to these questions. We’ll begin our tour 150 miles to the north in the central Mesa Verde region where Chaco probably had its roots. We’ll visit Chacoan “outlier communities” in southwestern Colorado and northwestern New Mexico that form important pieces of the Chaco puzzle. We’ll hear what archaeologists have to say about the Chaco phenomenon and how Pueblo descendants reconcile Chaco in their oral traditions. Our six-day tour of the Chaco world will be led, once again, by Drs. Joe Suina and John Ware, who will be joined this year by Chaco scholar Dr. Wolcott Toll who has helped fit the pieces of Chaco back together. We guarantee many intriguing questions along the way, and perhaps a few answers to the mysteries of the ancestral Pueblo.