Friday, December 11, 2015

Puebloans in Treeless Chaco Canyon Hauled 240,000 Trees over 75 KM for House Construction

Analysis of tree-ring patterns shows the prehistoric Pueblo Indians who built the multi-story great houses in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, at one time hauled huge wooden beams a good distance from one valley for their construction and then suddenly switched to another valley’s trees. Archaeologists doing the research said both mountain ranges are about 75 kilometers (46 miles) from Chaco Canyon, which was virtually treeless.

“The iconic great houses of Chaco Canyon occupy a nearly treeless landscape and yet were some of the largest pre-Columbian structures in North America. This incongruity has sparked persistent debate over the origins of more than 240,000 trees used in construction. We used tree-ring methods for determining timber origins for the first time to our knowledge in the southwestern United States and show that 70% of timbers likely originated over 75 km from Chaco. We found that a previously unrecognized timber source, the Zuni Mountains, supplied construction beams as early as the 850s in the Common Era. Further, we elucidate shifting dynamics of procurement that highlight the importance of a single landscape, the Chuska Mountains, in the florescence [height] of the Chacoan system [around 1060 A.D.}

Ancient Origins

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