Talk:Chaco Culture National Historical Park

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Bheldthor's additions--again[edit]

Needs to be condensed and reworded (to avoid copyright issues) before addition ... to the last section:

At summer solstice in 1977, Anna Sofaer, while studying petroglyphs on top of Fajada Butte, witnessed a dagger shape of light cast by the opening of two large rock slabs bisect the center of a large spiral carving on the rock wall behind the slabs. This site, subsequently called the Sun Dagger site, was created approximately a thousand years ago by the ancient Pueblo culture of Chaco Canyon.[1] In 1978, Sofaer established the non-profit Solstice Project dedicated to the study and preservation of the achievements of the Chaco Culture and the dissemination of educational information about it and other cultures of the American Southwest. From 1978 through the 1980s, the Solstice Project's research on the Sun Dagger site showed that it marked the key positions of the solar and lunar cycles: the summer solstice, winter solstice, and equinox; and the major and the minor lunar standstills of the moon’s 18.6 year cycle.[2]

The Solstice Project also conducted through the 1990s extensive research on the Chaco people’s expressions of astronomy in architecture, road constructions and light markings on other petroglyphs. These studies revealed that two other petroglyph sites on Fajada Butte are marked with light patterns distinctive to the solstices and equinoxes at solar noon.[3] They also documented with the National Geodetic Survey of NOAA (spell out?) that twelve major Chaco buildings are oriented to the extremes and mid positions of the solar and lunar cycles, the same positions that are marked on Fajada Butte. In addition, they found that the interbuilding bearing of these major buildings are also aligned to the sun and the moon.[4] Corresponding findings were documented at an outlying Chaco site, Chimney Rock, showing that it was situated for its alignment to the rise of the major standstill moon. Other research of the Solstice Project showed that the Chaco people incorporated solar-lunar geometries in their fourteen major buildings.[5]Finally, its studies of the Great North Road, a 35 mile engineered “road”, revealed that it was probably developed for the purpose of connecting the ceremonial center of Chaco Canyon to the the direction north -- a most sacred direction to the descendant Pueblo cultures.[6]

References

  1. ^ Science Magazine, Sofaer et al, 1979: 126
  2. ^ Sofaer et al. Cambridge U., 1982 : 126
  3. ^ Sofaer and Sinclair, 1987. UNM, ABQ: 112
  4. ^ Sofaer, 1998. Lekson Ed, U of Utah: 165
  5. ^ Sofaer, 1998. Lekson Ed, U of Utah: 165
  6. ^ Sofaer, Marshall and Sinclair, 1989. Cambridge: 112.

Article issues still exist?[edit]

I brought this up a month ago about lack of citations and possible original research. I was thinking FA review, but I would rather bring this up again in talk page. --George Ho (talk) 20:21, 13 December 2014 (UTC)

Densest and Most Exceptional?[edit]

The opening sentence describes Chaco as the densest and most exceptional concentration of pueblos in the American Southwest. An IP editor proposes to qualify this by restricting it to "pre-Columbian" pueblos, pointing out that there are a lot of pueblos in the Southwest. Is the qualification needed?

We have two claims. "Most exceptional," I think is safe: there was nothing quite like Chaco in the Southwest, then or later. Of course, it's also a qualitative judgment and there were and are other exceptional sites.

"Densest" is tricky because it could mean "population density", for which we have no definitive evidence, or "architectural density", or "site density", or something else. Unquestionably there was a lot of Chaco at Chaco in a very small space.

But is the superlative justified? I think it might well be. Worse, "Pre-Columbian" doesn’t help us much, because several possible competitors were also Pre-Columbian. Among dense collections of sites that we’d call "pueblos", among those that spring to mind are pre-Columbian Zuni-Acoma, the Hopi mesas and environs, and perhaps Mesa Verde/Aztec/Escalante/Lowry if McElmo is really distinct from Chaco. But all these are much larger spans of land, and most of the best candidates are also pre-Columbian. If we’re simply talking population per meter, you aren't likely to beat Pecos alone or Paquime alone at their height. The historic Rio Grande Pueblos were surely more populous than Chaco ever was, but of course it's far more vast.


In fact, the weakest claim here might be that the Chaco great houses were pueblos -- that is, that they were something like historic Taos, Pecos, or Orabi, residences occupied by hundreds or thousands of people. But the sites look like pueblos and are discussed as pueblos, and it's too much weight for the lede to problematize this so early. MarkBernstein (talk) 19:06, 30 July 2015 (UTC)

I support Mark's reasoning here but I have some uncertainty about the verifiability of that description as a whole. Examining the results of these two Google Books searches — search 1, focusing on density and search 2, focusing on exceptionality — will show several sources which come very close to, but I would argue fall just short of, supporting the density and exceptionality claims. Since this claim is in the lede, it wouldn't necessarily need a citation if it were supported in the body of the article, but I find no such support. Moreover, the assertion was added in this 2005 edit by WBardwin (who has not edited here since 2010) and was part of a multi-day editing sequence (March 23 - April 9, 2005) by him to convert the article from, basically, a stub to a fully-fledged article. At the beginning of that sequence the article was wholly uncited and unreferenced; at the end there were no inline citations (they weren't required back then) but WBardwin had added three sources in a reference section at the bottom of the page:
  • Frazier, Kendrick. People of Chaco: A Canyon and Its Culture. W.W. Norton and Company, New York, 1986. ISBN 0-393-30496-5.
  • Noble, David Grant, editor. New Light on Chaco Canyon. School of American Research, Sante Fe, New Mexico, 1985.
  • Plog, Stephen. Ancient Peoples of the American Southwest. Thames and London, LTD, London, England, 1997. ISBN 0-500-27939-X.
All three of those can be searched via Google Books (the last two, unfortunately, only in "snippet view") and I cannot find anything in them which would support the description without a dose of original research. What I do find — and I hesitate to mention this for two reasons, first, the editing standards in 2005 were somewhat laxer than they are now and, second, we judge edits, not editors, but as circumstantial evidence of whether or not this description was properly sourced, not as a value judgment about the editor — the very first, bold-typefaced assertion on WBardwin's user page is, "Almost every good faith edit is valuable. Research, verify, rewrite --------------- but don't delete!". Frankly, I think that the description is unverifiable and I'm going to {{cn}} tag it. If someone doesn't come up with a citation we're going to have to reconsider it. Regards, TransporterMan (TALK) 14:19, 31 July 2015 (UTC)

Lekson's Chaco Meridian makes both claims explicitly, at least in the new second edition. In any case, both claims can (as I show above) be separately traced through the literature. See, for example, Linda Cordell’s Prehistory of the Southwest or, better for this case, Lekson’s A History of The Ancient Southwest. The exceptionality claim is easily sourced, and as I said, the density claim is only tricky because "density" might mean several things. What we mean here, pretty much, is "number of big buildings per acre," and Chaco clearly stands out. MarkBernstein (talk) 15:37, 31 July 2015 (UTC)

Can you inline-cite them, then, and remove the cn tag? (I don't mean that as a challenge, but merely as a request.) As a featured article this claim really needs to be fully cited. While I have several Chaco books in my library I don't think I have any of those three. Best regards, TransporterMan (TALK) 15:49, 31 July 2015 (UTC)