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.

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)

Gallery[edit]

I generally support Deor's removal of the gallery, but I want to say that my objection partly rests upon the fact that many of the images in the gallery were too indefinite to support that part of the Image Use Policy which reads "However, the use of a gallery section may be appropriate in some Wikipedia articles if a collection of images can illustrate aspects of a subject that cannot be easily or adequately described by text or individual images. The images in the gallery collectively must have encyclopedic value and add to the reader's understanding of the subject. Images in a gallery should be suitably captioned to explain their relevance both to the article subject and to the theme of the gallery..." (emphasis added). Many of the images in the removed gallery were captioned with things like (and several images would have the same caption):

  • Chaco ruins
  • Chaco ruins detail
  • Chaco kiva detail
  • Chaco wall
  • Chaco
  • Chaco pictograph

Those are not illustrative of "aspects of a subject that cannot be easily or adequately described by text or individual images," nor are they "suitably captioned to explain their relevance." I'm not anti-gallery like some people (I don't mean that to point at Deor, by the way, I have no idea whether he's anti-gallery or not and he certainly had good reason to object to this one), but a gallery has to be something more than just a set of general illustrations about the subject and needs to be relatively small. If this had, for example, been a set of images of some of the main great houses in the canyon mentioned in the article text, each captioned with the name of the house, I might have been less supportive of its removal. Similarly, if it had been or included a collection of some images showing architectural or cultural features unique to Chaco which were mentioned in the text, ditto. But as it was, it really wasn't proper (and was too big and growing). Regards, TransporterMan (TALK) 21:20, 16 September 2015 (UTC)

And one more thing. Though I don't want to make too big a deal out of this point, but the fact that all the photos which were in the gallery were all shot and uploaded by the editor who was putting them in the gallery feels — especially with the captioning shortcomings noted above — a lot like someone just putting their vacation pictures into Wikipedia, a feeling that is not diminished by the fact that there were many excellent photos of Chaco already available through Commons before these were uploaded and none of those were included in the gallery. None of that, in itself, is a sin, but it does reflect on the issue of whether or not the gallery was being added in order to fulfill the proper purposes of a gallery as established in policy. I truly don't mean to imply bad motive on the part of that editor and I'm sure he was doing what he was doing in good faith and the photos were quite nice, but I think that he wasn't familiar enough with policy. — TransporterMan (TALK) 21:39, 16 September 2015 (UTC)
If you want to read my exchange with the editor who added the gallery, it's currently at the bottom of my talk page. My main objection was that the gallery was too large—with some of the images being redundant, either to each other or to images present elsewhere in the article—and that it was added to a featured article without discussion. If the consensus here is that a (stripped-down) gallery would improve the article, I would certainly have no objection. Or perhaps a few of the images could be worked in to the body of the article? Deor (talk) 00:06, 17 September 2015 (UTC)
Wow, I wish I had seen that before I posted. He was so nice and understanding that it makes me look, well ... dickish. Though I didn't intend to come across that way, I apologize to Steven C. Price, nontheless. Sheepishly and best regards, TransporterMan (TALK) 01:00, 17 September 2015 (UTC)
(edit conflict)Thanks to the two editors above. I am familiar with this new editor as he added an excellent set of photos to an article that I work on. I was impressed with the professional look to his/her photos and felt lucky to have the new photos for "my" article. I want to be sure that we treat this new editor with open arms since s/he seems a good editor for WP to encourage. I always like galleries and I think a small gallery would improve this article.
Steve, experienced editors know that galleries can be problematic because they start to distract from an article as more and more editors want their photos included and it becomes hard to draw the line. It takes an article watcher who is willing to tell well-meaning editors that no, they can't add their wonderful photo (because I said so). I know this because I watch over the Rainbow article and it's really tough to be such a meanie. But I can't see that as a problem here...I hope...
Steve's photos are so good that I felt that surely it would be easy enough to replace some of the article's photos. But looking at the article's photos I found that not to be the case at all. I don't know whose FA this is, but they sure did what must have been a difficult job of furnishing such a wide range of informative photos - including the first one that at first glace may not seem so good, but when I considered it I like the way that it sets the "mood" for what is to follow. Steve and a couple of editors posted on my talk page. I'll ask them to check in here. Gandydancer (talk) 01:33, 17 September 2015 (UTC)

Gandydancer (talk), TransporterMan (TALK), Deor (talk), Montanabw, Viriditas In light of the above conversation, I have, with some trepedation (!) added five images to a Gallery, each illustrating features not apparent from the main page. I included a closer view of the stairway, as it is not apparent from the photo in the text unless you magnify the image; a close-up of a kiva, as all other photos are from "far away"; an image of early graffiti, not mentioned in the text; and a pictograph, of which some were mentioned in the text but this is another example; and finally an up close view of wall construction of wood and stone. Please let me know of what you think of the appropriateness of these additions. Steven C. Price 18:20, 17 September 2015 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Steven C. Price (talkcontribs)

Steven C. Price I think that the gallery is an excellent addition. Thanks! Gandydancer (talk) 01:29, 23 September 2015 (UTC)