Chaco Culture 800AD-1200AD

Chaco Culture National Historical Park preserves one of America’s richest and most facinating cultural and historic areas. In Chaco Canyon, a desert valley in northwestern New Mexico, between the early AD 800s and the late 1200s, the Anasazi created a civilization whose architecture, social organization and community life reflected a high degree of sophistication. Large multi-story stone villages and an impressive 400-mile road system exemplify their engineering and construction talents.

A central settlement, Chaco, was a major center of ancestral Puebloan culture connected with approximately 75 outlaying communities. It was a hub of ceremony, trade, and government for the prehistoric Four Corners area — and a phenomenon unlike anything before or since.

It is thought that these agrarian people may have developed this political and economic center to manage and distribute the food supply that varied, due to the vagaries of wet and dry growing seasons. These Anasazi constructed their pueblos with large oversized rooms and also developed a masonry technique that allowed them to build more than 4 stories high. Several of the resulting complexes contained hundreds of rooms and dozens of kivas.

A prolonged drought between the 1130s and 1180s may have contributed to the disintegration of Chaco. The Chacoan cultural sites are fragile and irreplaceable and represent a significant part of America’s cultural heritage. The sites are part of the sacred homeland of Pueblo Indian peoples of New Mexico, the Hopi Indians of Arizona, and the Navajo Indians of the Southwest, all of whom continue to respect and honor them.