Jul 182013
 

Aztec ruins in New Mexico?  Were the Aztec ruins really built by the Aztecs?  No, the Aztec ruins in northern New Mexico were built by the Ancestral Puebloan people, but early settlers thought they must be Aztec buildings and the name stuck.

Courtney Miller at Aztec Ruins National Monument

Courtney Miller at Aztec Ruins National Monument

This week I want to share my recent visit to Aztec Ruins National Monument with you.  It is an amazing archaeological site, a friendly and easily accessible National Monument, and an important historical landmark with a wonderful story.  Aztec Ruins National Monument is located on Ruins Road about ½ mile north of New Mexico Highway 516, in the City of Aztec, New Mexico near Farmington and Durango, Colorado.

Jun 272013
 
Chetro Ketl original colonnades are filled in

Chetro Ketl
original colonnades are filled in

Mayans in New Mexico? In the Chaco Culture National Historical Park there is a Great House built by the ancestral Puebloan culture that is a glaring example of the influence of the Mayan culture. If you look closely at the front wall facing the plaza at Chetro Ketl, you can see that it “was originally built as a row of masonry columns which once held horizontal timbers to support a roof over an open cloister-like porch.” This quote is from the guide book provided by the NHP. It goes on to say, “Sometime later the spaces between the columns were filled with masonry to completely close the passageway.” And later the area was divided further into smaller rooms.

Feb 072013
 
My house sits on a round hill in the foothills of the Wet Mountains.   This hill is the last vestige of the Wet Mountains and looks out over the Wet Mountain valley.  Across the long, narrow valley, the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains rise up with many peaks topping 14,000 feet.  The Sangre de Cristo is the longest, continuous mountain range in the Rocky Mountains and stretches from the Arkansas River to the north down to Santa Fe, New Mexico in the south.
Summer Solstice
Equinox sets between 2nd and 3rd peak from left
Nov 152012
 
First of all, what is archaeoastronomy?  It is the study of how the ancients studied or used astronomy.   The position of the stars in the night sky; the movement of the sun across the horizon throughout the year; the movement of the Moon across the horizon on its eighteen-nineteen year cycle; were all studied and recorded and used by the ancients as their celestial calendar.   Knowledge of these cycles helped the ancients to know when to plant their crops, or migrate, celebrate their religious holidays, and many other important events during the year.
In the heart of New Mexico there is an arid canyon called Chaco Canyon that was once the center of the Anasazi culture.  In this canyon stands an ominous butte called Fajada (fa-ha-da) Butte.  Atop this huge 450 ft-high formation are three large sandstone slabs that lean up against the southern wall.  On the wall behind these huge stones, the Anasazi astronomers chiseled two large spirals.   At noon every day the sun shines between the stones and casts shaft(s) of light across the spirals.  Popularly called “daggers of light”, the dagger materialize before noon in the upper left of the spiral and then spread across the spiral to project a “dagger” covering the spiral and then clears off the spiral top to bottom.   It is an amazing, almost magical occurrence.
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