A recent Associated Press article by Susan Montoya Bryan, which was published in a number of news outlets1 highlights ongoing concerns over the preservation of the areas surrounding Chaco Canyon — an ancient sacred site aligned to the sun in New Mexico USA. Archeologists and researchers are calling for more protection for the Chaco Canyon area, as fracking threatens to disrupt further study of the ancient history and culture of this region.
Chaco Canyon is an expansive ancient complex of great stone buildings, various structures, and ceremonial platforms, many of which are aligned to solstices and equinoxes. Chaco also contains a a rich array of symbols of the Religion of the Sun.
Concerns over Protection of Chaco’s Surroundings and Implications for Future Research
Currently the Chaco complex is under national park protection, however concerns have been raised over satellite structures (such as some of the kivas) and other archeological sites in the expansive surrounding areas, which are subject to increased oil and gas development activities — these activities can potentially spoil elements in the landscape that could provide a further understanding of the ancient Chacoan culture.
According to the AP News article, new research suggests that there is evidence of the existence of roads connecting to satellite sites and archeological remnants throughout northwestern New Mexico.2
Additionally, the landscape itself may be an important study point. As for example unobstructed views of certain mountain peaks or buttes may have been of significance to the ancient builders of the sacred sites in the area.
It is suggested that more discoveries could be made via further exploration of the region that would provide more clues to the history of the area and the vanished Anasazi culture that once thrived there.
The article explains that according to Anna Sofaer, president of the Solstice Project,3 “people who don’t understand Chaco see it as sort of a high desert wasteland that can offer only oil, gas, coal and uranium.” The article quotes Anne, saying:
“I think it’s our obligation as people who’ve been working with Chaco for decades to bring out to the public and to the people who affect policy the great value of going back and connecting with the people who were so connected with their natural world.”
Current Regulations Might Not Be Offering Sufficient Protection
There are some regulations in place for the protection of this world heritage site, however some question whether the protection offered sufficiently safeguards the surrounding landscape.
For example, the article references Ruth Van Dyke, an anthropology professor at Binghamton University, stating that:
“the Bureau of Land Management followed the letter of the law in protecting the site but allowed for 12 pump jacks to be installed within view of the great houses. The nearest one is less than a mile away and others can be seen glinting in the distance.
Van Dyke said archaeologists need to be cognizant of things like viewscapes and soundscapes, figure out ways to study and record them and provide that information to land managers. She said such features are important for understanding a complex like Chaco.
“”We really need to set aside large landscape areas to protect and to prohibit drilling all together,” she said.”
Environmental pollution created by fracking activities is also of great concern.4 For example, Chaco was the first National Park observatory, recognized specifically for its dark night skies that allow for better celestial observation. The article highlights a possibility that the night sky at Chaco might be affected by resulting pollution. This could potentially further impede the observation of the relationship between the various structures and alignments at chaco and celestial bodies.
The Importance of Study and Preservation of Sites like Chaco Canyon
Ancient sites aligned to the sun, select artifacts, artwork, and symbols are among the few remaining physical clues in pre-Columbian America of the presence of the lost global civilization of the sun and the religion that it practiced.
There is evidence suggesting that peaceful cultures that practiced a form of the Religion of the Sun in the Americas, such as the Anasazi (the culture behind sites like Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde), were violently persecuted and driven away from their cities, ceremonial complexes, and sacred sites. As a result, today much remains unknown about the original master builders and astronomers behind Chaco Canyon and their distinct and sophisticated culture.
And so the ability to study and better understand complexes such as Chaco Canyon, their alignments, connections with other sites, cultures, etc., can be crucial for understanding more about the presence and influence of the lost civilization of the sun in the Americas.
Various groups have been calling for better protection and preservation of these sites over the last several years. An active petition organized by an environmental group in the region can be found below:
Thanks Geraldine for bringing the Associated Press article to our attention.
Bryan, Susan Montoya. “Archaeologists: More protections needed for Chaco region.” AP News. September 22, 2017. Accessed October 03, 2017. https://www.apnews.com/75c1b3650ab640db92b31536748e59d0/Archaeologists:-More-protections-needed-for-Chaco-region.
On the Solstice Project’s website (an organization that has played a monumental role in the study and preservation of Chaco Canyon). It is explained that: “In 2010 Sofaer, with archeologist Richard Friedman, through the Solstice Project, recorded The Great North Road with lidar (aerial laser scanning). This effort, funded by a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, precisely documented the Chacoans’ remarkably elaborate alignment to the North. It also affirmed the great efficacy of lidar to precisely record other Chaco “roads.” Following the Solstice Project’s nomination, the Great North Road is now designated as one of the “Eleven Most Endangered Sites” by the NTHP.”
Source: The Solstice Project – About Us. Accessed September 29, 2017. http://www.solsticeproject.org/aboutsolstice.html.
More information about Anna Sofaer and The Solstice Project can be found here: The Solstice Project – About Us.
See for example: Horton, Melissa. “What are the effects of fracking on the environment?” Investopedia. January 19, 2015. Accessed October 03, 2017. http://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/011915/what-are-effects-fracking-environment.asp.