ChacoCulture

Chaco Canyon lies on the Colorado Plateau, 36 miles from the nearest town of Nageezi. NM.
Originally settled by Archaic-Early Basketmaker people between 7000-1500 BC, by 490 AD
their Late Basketmaker II descendants were farming and building pit-houses, and by 800 AD
(Pueblo I era), they were building crescent-shaped stone complexes and underground kivas.

These Ancestral Pueblo people (called Anasazi, from the Navajo word meaning “ancient
ones” or “enemy ancestors”, and now often referred to by the Hopi term Hisatsinom, which
means “ancient people”) began building the first sections of Pueblo Bonito in the 10th c.

The 15 major complexes at Chaco Canyon contained some of the largest buildings in
North America until the 19th c., and housed the major cultural center in the Four Corners
area between 900 AD and the 12th century, when the 300-year Great Drought eventually
forced the Ancestral Pueblo people to migrate south to find more stable water sources.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


This page is an overview, containing selections from the 155 images in this section,
detailed in the five sub-section pages: Pueblo Bonito; Pueblo del Arroyo; Chetro Ketl;
Casa Rinconada and Una Vida; and the Petroglyph Trail and Una Vida Petroglyphs.

(There are 174 images in the Photoshelter Chaco Culture galleries)

Click a preview image for a larger version.
Use your back button to return to this page.
Click a Display Composite to visit the page..

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Indian Lands & Anasazi Sites Collection where a Gallery can be selected.

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There are 14 Sections in the Photoshelter Indian Lands & Anasazi Sites Collection

Direct Links:

The Chaco Culture Anasazi Complex Collection
(8 Galleries):

Chetro Ketl                           Hungo Pavi
Miscellaneous                     Petroglyphs
Pueblo del Arroyo           Pueblo Bonito
Rinconada                               Una Vida

Indian Lands Select
(150 Selected images)

Anasazi and Fremont Petroglyphs

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Pueblo_Bonito_North_Plaza_X9648


Pueblo Bonito North Plaza X9648
(685 KB)

The Northern room complex beyond the Plaza contains some of the oldest parts of
Pueblo Bonito. The rooms with the latilla holes (Type I style masonry) just beyond the
 foreground Kiva were built c. 891 AD. The upper stories were added in the 1040s.

Pueblo_Bonito_East_Wall_X9632


Pueblo Bonito East Wall X9632
(808 KB)

The East Wall showing the core-and-veneer stonework. A great deal of information on the masonry styles, history and construction of Pueblo Bonito are on the Pueblo Bonito page.

Pueblo_Bonito_South_Wall_5120


Pueblo Bonito South Wall 5120
(713 KB)

Detail of the section of the South Wall. The complex masonry of the wall with alternating courses of wide and thin stones is a refinement of core-and-veneer stonework (Type III Masonry).

Pueblo_Bonito_South_Wall_X9634


Pueblo Bonito South Wall X9634
(637 KB)

Detail of a section of the South Wall near the Southwest corner.

The complex masonry of the wall with alternating courses of wide and thin stones
is a refinement of the core-and-veneer stonework style known as Type III Masonry.

Pueblo_Bonito_Interior_Doorways_X9639


Pueblo Bonito Interior Doorways X9639
(562 KB)

The obligatory aligned-doorway shot. This evenly lit area of the East Wing allowed a longer exposure which shows the superbly refined Type IV Chacoan style masonry work.

Pueblo_Bonito_Winter_Solstice_Doorway_5101


Pueblo Bonito Winter Solstice Doorway 5101
(499 KB)

The corner doorway shown in these images is aligned with the sunrise on the Winter Solstice. A beam of light enters the door at sunrise and falls on the corner opposite the doorway.

Pueblo_Bonito_T-shaped_Doorway_5104


Pueblo Bonito T-shaped Doorway 5104
(595 KB)

A T-shaped doorway in the East Wing. These distinctive doorways were present at several
other sites in the Four Corners area, such as Hovenweep and Aztec Ruins, but they seem to
have first appeared at Chaco Canyon. Often, they are associated with Great Kivas, but there
are also some T-shaped doors entering the plaza and in some interior rooms at Pueblo Bonito.

For more images like those shown above, click the
Display Composite below to visit the Pueblo Bonito page.

PuebloBonito
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Pueblo_del_Arroyo_5181


Pueblo del Arroyo 5181
(748 KB)

The Plaza and South Room block structures at Pueblo del Arroyo from within the
Tri-Wall Structure. The Tri-Wall Structure is one of ten known similar complexes
in the Southwest, consisting of three concentric walls enclosing a Kiva. This is
the only one at Chaco, and it indicates Northern influence at the time it was
built. The Tri-Wall had ritual significance, but its purpose is still unknown.
The Tri-Wall Structure is on the Southwest side of Pueblo del Arroyo.

Pueblo_del_Arroyo_Northeast_Corner_5211


Pueblo del Arroyo Northeast Corner 5211
(737 KB)

The Northeast corner of Pueblo del Arroyo with an exposed wall showing a good example of core-and-veneer masonry.

Pueblo_del_Arroyo_South_Buttress_5201


Pueblo del Arroyo South Buttress 5201
(767 KB)

Detail of the South Wall Buttress and supporting cross-walls. The buttress kept the long unsupported South Wall intact.

Pueblo_del_Arroyo_South_Wall_Buttress_5196


Pueblo del Arroyo South Wall Buttress 5196
(776 KB)

When the South Wing was constructed, there were long walls up to the fourth story,
with cross walls on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th stories but no cross walls on the ground floor.
The entire first floor enclosed an single, continuous room. The upper stories were not
properly supported, and the stress caused the wall to lean out. A series of buttresses
were built to stabilize the wall. Later, the exterior of these buttresses were used as a
back wall for a series of rooms built with crude masonry (the remains of which can
be seen in the left side of the image). These later rooms were probably built long
after the Chaco System broke down, most likely in the early to middle 1200s.

Pueblo_delArroyo_McElmo_Masonry_5207c


Pueblo del Arroyo McElmo Masonry 5207c
(793 KB)

Detail of the McElmo-style masonry. Note on the right wall the sandstone is mixed, and then transitions into Bonito masonry.

Pueblo_del_Arroyo_South_Roomblock_Kiva_5182


Pueblo del Arroyo South Roomblock Kiva 5182
(712 KB)

The South interior wall and room block beyond Plaza Kiva C. This image was taken with minimum polarization.

Pueblo_del_Arroyo_North_Interior_5214


Pueblo del Arroyo North Interior 5214
(752 KB)

Interior structure of Pueblo del Arroyo. Note the keyhole-shaped Kiva at right.
The keyhole-shaped Kiva is common to those at Mesa Verde and Aztec Ruins.
This may be a sign of northern influences on later architecture at Chaco Canyon.

For more images like those shown above, click the
Display Composite below to visit the Pueblo del Arroyo page.

Pueblo_delArroyo
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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Indian Lands & Anasazi Sites Collection where a Gallery can be selected.

PhotoshelterGallerySection


There are 14 Sections in the Photoshelter Indian Lands & Anasazi Sites Collection

Direct Links:

The Chaco Culture Anasazi Complex Collection
(8 Galleries):

Chetro Ketl                           Hungo Pavi
Miscellaneous                     Petroglyphs
Pueblo del Arroyo           Pueblo Bonito
Rinconada                               Una Vida

Indian Lands Select
(150 Selected images)

Anasazi and Fremont Petroglyphs

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Chetro_Ketl_Plaza_Kivas_X9601


Chetro Ketl Plaza Kivas X9601
(711 KB)

Detail of the East Plaza Kivas, looking north. The overlaid structures of Kivas D and E are at left.
In the background are the elevated Kiva (Kiva C) and a part of the East wing of Chetro Ketl.

Chetro_Ketl_Plaza_Kivas_5138


Chetro Ketl Plaza Kivas 5138
(780 KB)

The series of Kivas at the East end of the Plaza, and the elevated Kiva (Kiva C) in the East wing of Chetro Ketl.

Chetro_Ketl_Great_Kiva_X9599


Chetro Ketl Great Kiva X9599
(732 KB)

The Great Kiva in the Plaza, showing the post-seating pits, vaults, firebox, and benches which define Chacoan Kivas.

Chetro_Ketl_Central_Roomblock_X9605


Chetro Ketl Central Roomblock X9605
(547 KB)

The central room block and back wall from beside the Kiva G complex.
This image shows the McElmo masonry of the rectangular enclosing walls
and circular elevated walls of the Kiva G complex at left, the Type II masonry
of the back wall (center right), and the Type III masonry on the crossing walls.

These masonry styles, which are a major feature of Chacoan architecture,
are described in detail on the Chetro Ketl and Pueblo Bonito pages.

Chetro_Ketl_Talus_Unit_5125


Chetro Ketl Talus Unit 5125
(893 KB)

This scene is the Northwest corner of Chetro Ketl’s rear wall and North canyon wall, with Talus Unit #1 in the background. At the far left is the section of cliff known as the Amphitheater (Tse’Biinaholts’a Yalti: “Curved Rock that Speaks”), where the Anasazi excavated thousands of tons of rock to create an archaeoacoustic structure as a possible performance space.

Chetro_Ketl_Talus_Unit_5156


Chetro Ketl Talus Unit 5156
(743 KB)

Talus Unit #1 and the two rooms connecting the West (left) and East buildings. At the far right is one of the rooms which acted as a landing for the stairway on the cliff. Wooden beam sockets were in the cliff face in the upper right of the image. At left is an elevated Kiva (Kiva C2) in the West building of the Talus Unit and a masonry ramp which led to another stairway.

Chetro_Ketl_Colonnade_Wall_X9595


Chetro Ketl Colonnade Wall X9595
(677 KB)

The Colonnade wall is Chetro Ketl’s most unusual feature. Few colonnade walls are
in the Southwest, but they are quite common in Mesoamerica. Along with the presence
of Macaws (found in Pueblo Bonito), and chocolate residue found in cylindrical jars, this
 indicates that there was trade with and architectural influence by Mesoamerican cultures.

For more images like those shown above, click the
Display Composite below to visit the Chetro Ketl page.

ChetroKetl
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Casa_Rinconada_Great_Kiva_5222


Casa Rinconada Great Kiva 5222
(594 KB)

The South T-shaped Entrance to Casa Rinconada, with two of the larger crypts and three of the
one-foot cubic niches above the snow-covered bench, with the vaults and firebox in the foreground.

Casa_Rinconada_Great_Kiva_Detail_5229c


Casa Rinconada Great Kiva Detail 5229c
(679 KB)

The North T-shaped Entrance and Summer Solstice Window. Around the lower section of the wall are 28 regularly spaced niches and 6 crypts. On the Summer Solstice, the sun casts a beam from the Window onto one of these crypts. As the Kiva has had some reconstruction, the alignment is questionable.

Casa_Rinconada_Type_III_Masonry_5228


Casa Rinconada Type III Masonry 5228
(898 KB)

Type III masonry on a core-and-veneer sandstone wall of the Northern Antechamber. Type III masonry is a rubble core faced with a dressed tabular sandstone laid in courses of larger stones and thinner tablets. Core-and-veneer masonry is a signature characteristic of the stonework at Chaco Canyon.

Rinconada_BC50_Tseh_So_5237


Rinconada BC50 Tseh So 5237
(785 KB)

BC50 (Navajo name: Tseh So) is a Chacoan small house located near Casa Rinconada.
Small houses were the primary residential units in Chaco Canyon. Built on top of an earlier
Basketmaker III era pithouse community, Tseh So was occupied from c. 900 to the 13th c.

Una_Vida_Early_Walls_and_Tower_5048


Una Vida Early Walls and Tower 5048
(681 KB)

Type I Tower walls at Una Vida, shored up with later McElmo masonry. These are among the earliest walls at Una Vida.

Una_Vida_Fajada_Butte_X9582


Una Vida Fajada Butte X9582
(556 KB)

Fajada Butte is in the distance at left and detail of a Type I wall in the East Wing of Una Vida is shown at right.

Una_Vida_Type_IV_Wall_5039


Una Vida Type IV Wall 5039
(506 KB)

A Type IV wall in Una Vida’s East Wing with a well-preserved doorway and windows.
Type IV masonry is characterized by the use of relatively uniformly sized tabular stones
from the upper cliffs veneered onto a rubble core with very little mortar, and represents the
pinnacle of the Chacoan Great House stonework for which this culture is best known.

For more images like those shown above, click the
Display Composite below to visit the Rinconada/Una Vida page.

Rinconada_UnaVida
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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Indian Lands & Anasazi Sites Collection where a Gallery can be selected.

PhotoshelterGallerySection


There are 14 Sections in the Photoshelter Indian Lands & Anasazi Sites Collection

Direct Links:

The Chaco Culture Anasazi Complex Collection
(8 Galleries):

Chetro Ketl                           Hungo Pavi
Miscellaneous                     Petroglyphs
Pueblo del Arroyo           Pueblo Bonito
Rinconada                               Una Vida

Indian Lands Select
(150 Selected images)

Anasazi and Fremont Petroglyphs

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Una_Vida_Petroglyphs_Inversion_X9589c


Una Vida Petroglyphs Inversion X9589c
(609 KB)

A channel-balanced grayscale conversion and level-adjusted inversion
of the central right section of the Una Vida Petroglyph Panel, showing the
various Zoomorphs and Symbols, a Bird with huge feet, and the Two-Horn
Anthropomorph who can easily be seen to be holding the spiral in his left hand.
Note that a footprint was pecked into the lower right body of the Anthropomorph.

Chaco_Road_Runner_Petroglyph_X9622


Chaco Road Runner Petroglyph X9622
(682 KB)

Road Runners have been a part of the Puebloan religious expression for well over 800 years, and were as important to the Anasazi as they are to modern Puebloans. Road Runners and their tracks are common in Anasazi petroglyphs.

Chaco_North_Wall_Petroglyph_X9616


Chaco North Wall Petroglyph X9616
(584 KB)

Identified as a “possible supernatural figure” by the National Park  Service, this petroglyph was shot even though its hands were up in obvious surrender. Gunfire damage is unfortunately rather common on petroglyph walls throughout the Southwest.

Chaco_Mountain_Lion_Petroglyph_X9623


Chaco Mountain Lion Petroglyph X9623
(767 KB)

The Mountain Lion, besides being a guardian and protector for war and hunting, was a
symbol of wisdom and balance in leadership, stealth and agility and a powerful totem animal.

Stone_Hogan_5025


Stone Hogan 5025
(569 KB)

A small sandstone masonry Navajo Hogan,
possibly used as a sweat lodge or storage enclosure.

Fajada_Butte_North_Face_5032


Fajada Butte North Face 5032
(558 KB)

The North Face of Fajada Butte (Banded Butte) in the Fajada Gap near Una Vida, is the site of the Sun Dagger petroglyphs.

Fajada_Butte_West_Face_5260


Fajada Butte West Face 5260
(403 KB)

The West Face of Fajada Butte (East Chaco Mesa and Wijiji at right).
Una Vida is behind the butte. In the left center of the image is an ancient
230 meter long ramp which was built to provide easier access to the butte.

For more images like those shown above, click the
Display Composite below to visit the Petroglyphs/Scenics page.

Petroglyphs
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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Indian Lands & Anasazi Sites Collection where a Gallery can be selected.

PhotoshelterGallerySection


There are 14 Sections in the Photoshelter Indian Lands & Anasazi Sites Collection

Direct Links:

The Chaco Culture Anasazi Complex Collection
(8 Galleries):

Chetro Ketl                           Hungo Pavi
Miscellaneous                     Petroglyphs
Pueblo del Arroyo           Pueblo Bonito
Rinconada                               Una Vida

Indian Lands Select
(150 Selected images)

Anasazi and Fremont Petroglyphs

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PuebloBonito


Click the Display Composite above to visit the Pueblo Bonito page.

Pueblo_delArroyo


Click the Display Composite above to visit the Pueblo del Arroyo page.

ChetroKetl


Click the Display Composite above to visit the Chetro Ketl page.

Rinconada_UnaVida


Click the Display Composite above to visit the Rinconada/Una Vida page.

Petroglyphs


Click the Display Composite above to visit the Petroglyphs and Chaco Scenics page.

Indian_Lands_and_Anasazi_Sites


Click the Display Composite above to return to the Indian Lands and Anasazi Sites Index page.

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