Term Paper: Anasazi Civilization Developed and Prospered

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[. . .] Hair combs and pins were made from bone, shell and stones.

Roads and trading

As I have mentioned before, the Anasazi civilization was not an isolated one, but traded with other local communities and as far as Mexico. In this sense, "seashells (often strung into necklaces), copper bells, and the remains of macaws or parrots" show trading with the Toltec civilization, as well as other civilizations on the seashore. Raw turquoise was imported from distant mines and worked upon in the Chaco Canyon. The extraordinarily crafted necklaces and bracelets were then exported as far south as Mexico.

In order for this high level trading to function, the Anasazi civilization build and developed a high-level network of roads and communications which are impressive even today (remember that the Anasazis lived during the Dark Ages of Europe). There are 400 miles of roads connecting Chaco Canyon to more than 75 communities. The longest road is more than 42 miles in length and runs north towards pueblos known today as Salmon Ruins and Aztec Ruins. The villages built along these roads follow an almost mathematical pattern of one day travel intervals.

As many of the documents I have researched showed, "these roads are not merely trails," but "the product of engineering and required a great deal of thought." The road network relied upon straight roads, that generally went northwards and were built regardless of the terrain. Many of them were as much as 30 feet in width. Where terrain was sloppy, the roadbed was leveled and generally a rock holding wall was built to retain the fill. Over bare rock, roads were generally bordered by stone walls or a lining of boulders. Amazingly enough, all the important Anasazi villages (Aztec Ruins, Solomon Ruins, Chaco Canyon and Casas Grandes) were all aligned along the same 108 meridian. This comes to show that the road network was highly planned and considered and might even be an evidence of at least basic mathematics and astronomy knowledge of the local civilization.

Anasazi architecture

Perhaps the most important evidence of the highly developed civilization that sprung in the Chaco Canyon and the surrounding area comes from architecture. It is here that store high buildings were created, many of which remain well conserved to this day.

The Pueblo Bonito, one of the largest Chaco Canyon villages, is the best example of these structures. The buildings here rose four or five stories high, a noticeable achievement for that period of time. The buildings generally surrounded a central plaza, where most of the activities were carried out, and several kivas were to be found here. It is estimated that the total population of Pueblo Bonito ranged around 1,200 inhabitants at its height. Several smaller dwellings and structures surrounded the pueblo.

In general, the rooms were rectangular and can be classified in several different types, according to their use. As such, featureless rooms did not have any windows and were generally used for storage. Rooms with wide platforms were used either for storage or for sleeping quarters. Rectangular rooms which contained domesticated turkeys were identified in the Chaco Canyon area. Generally, the rectangular rooms forming such a living unit were interconnected and had one direct access to the outside. Estimates (Lumpkins 1984) conclude that it may have taken as much as 1 million stones to build the Pueblo Bonito in the Chaco Canyon.

A specific component of the architectural and urban system of the Anasazi was the midden. This was a "space reserved for the disposal of garbage, broken pottery, worn stone tools, other disposable items, and for some burials." The midden was generally placed at the southern end of the plaza and may have had additional meaning to the Anasazis.

The Anasazi villages and urban formations generally followed a diversified pattern of shapes and forms. As such, the units ranged from e-shapes (Salmon Ruins) to d-shapes (Sun Temple) and from asymmetric forms to semi-circular sub-cliff dwellings (Cliff Palace). Diversity and configuration is among the characteristics of Anasazi village configurations.

Conclusions thriving and well-developed civilization appeared around the Chaco Canyon some time after 1 AD and went on to become one of the most representative in the area until its decline in the 14th century. A well-planned network of roads encouraged trade with other local communities and as far south as Mexico and the Toltec civilization, while the Anasazis locally manufactured pottery, jewelry and magnificent buildings which can still be admired today.


1. Burley, Jon Bryan. Anasazi Site Planning: Historic Precedents, Modern Constructs, and Multi-cultural Dynamics. 1995. On the Internet at http://www.ssc.msu.edu/~laej/historypapers/Burley3/Burley3text.html



http://www.co.blm.gov/ahc/anasazi.htm#farm http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Trails/1942/h_gold_4.html

http://pw1.netcom.com/~wandaron/pueblos.html. An excellent page with links to Anasazi and Chaco Canyon websites.

From an excellent Anasazi website http://www.co.blm.gov/ahc/anasazi.htm#Who

Form the Internet at http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Trails/1942/h_earl_3.html



However, as we have seen, these supplies became at a point insufficient, bringing the downfall of the civilization.

On the Internet at http://www.fortunecity.com/victorian/rothko/140/chaco.html

See Lekson (1986). Reference was taken from Burley, Jon Bryan. Anasazi Site Planning: Historic Precedents, Modern Constructs, and Multi-cultural Dynamics. 1995 [END OF PREVIEW]

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