chaco two

small stones excavated by harvester ants, shell and photograph framed in glass on steel

20 cm x 25 cm

chaco two detail - click to enlarge

|object in private collection|

In the 1970s, near the top of Fajada Butte in Chaco Canyon, archeologists discovered a pre-colombian calendar that is now believed to be the most complex celestial calendar of its kind anywhere in the world. I captured this photograph of Fajada Butte late the day after a summer monsoon. The shell is from the Sea of Cortez, and the little stones held in the shell were excavated by harvester ants and are of same sandstone used to construct the ‘great houses’ of Chaco.

Along an 18-mile stretch of remote canyon in Northern NM, there are more than a dozen ‘great houses’ as big or bigger than Pueblo Bonito, a ‘great house’ whose architectural footprint is nearly double that of the White House and stood at least 5 stories tall. All of these massive, elegantly designed and carefully crafted buildings are all exactingly aligned to each other and to the heavens.

Woven across the hundreds of miles of rugged country between central Mexico and the Colorado Plateau are literally thousands of miles of foot trails that were used to carry goods and ideas between these two deeply connected places. If you walk slow enough and long enough, between here and there, you might find a shell just like the one used in ‘chaco II ‘.

Scroll to Top