The term "Anasazi" is the name most familiar to people to describe these prehistoric peoples living in the Four Corners region, both cliff and pueblo dwellers, including those living in Chaco Cyn. However, "Anasazi" translates to "enemy ancestors" in Navajo, a term not favored by modern pueblo people such as the Hopi and Zuni, who are descendants of the the Anasazi. So, they are increasingly referred to as "Ancestral Puebloans".
The architecture and masonry skills these puebloan people developed 700 years before any European set foot in the region are remarkable; one can only imagine the splendor of of these pueblos during the peak of their occupancy.
Masonry styles vary by pueblo and age of construction; I took several photos of the facades and marvel at the abstract patterns they form.
One of the T-shaped doors in the large Pueblo Bonito ruin; this style of door is also seen in ruins of cliff dwellings, such as those in Mesa Verde.
These Great Houses were carefully planned and built over decades and sometimes centuries. They also contained round, subterranean structures known as "kivas", where fires and ceremonies were held.
Another room in Pueblo Bonita, showing another series of doors and rooms. With covered roofs and small windows, these rooms probably maintained reasonable temperatures even in the summer due to the thick walls and insulating properties of rock. Wood beams show the height of the ceiling; the doors are short and necessitate stooping to walk through.
Looking up out of one of the Pueblo Bonita rooms, a door and small window are visible, along with what appear to be a second set of beams and maybe a third floor.
A remarkable feat of engineering, for sure.
A section of the Pueblo Alto Trail Complex loop that leads through a narrow slot between two sections of sandstone. It looks like a tight squeeze, but it's not. Nonetheless, I had to take this photo as we entered it.
After this short but steep climb through the sandstone cliffs, the trail and overlooking Chaco Canyon. It is from this trail you can get a real sense of the scale of these ruins.
Below: Kin Kletso ruins, as seen from the top of the plateau and trailhead:
Masonry detail of New Pueblo Alto ruins. These apparent etchings into the sandstone caught my eye; they are clearly animal figures, and look equine to me. If so, this dates them after the original builders left; horses were not present in the region until the Coronado
Perhaps they are ancient versions of a child drawing on the walls with a crayon?
We didn't have time to hike to the main petroglyph and pictograph panels, but did take a short hike to some historical petroglyphs. I'll save those for another post with some other rock art I've photographed recently.
Catching some rays