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The Mystery of Chaco Canyon

Distributed by Bullfrog Films, PO Box 149, Oley, PA 19547; 800-543-FROG (3764)
Produced by The Solstice Project and Anna Sofaer
Directed by Anna Sofaer
VHS, color, 56 min.
Multicultural Studies, Anthropology, Sociology, American Studies

Reviewed by Brad Eden, Ph.D., Head, Web and Digitization Services, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Highly Recommended  Highly Recommended   

Chaco Canyon has long been regarded as an ancient trading center of the Chacoan Indian culture. Recent research and investigation, however, has uncovered an extremely complex ceremonial and astronomical alignment of the buildings, roads, and hieroglyphs left by this ancient culture. Buildings that are four-stories high and have over 700 rooms are now regarded as ceremonial structures designed to overwhelm the participants, rather than as living arrangements for a thriving trading culture. Using computer animation to link various Chacoan centers both inside and outside of the canyon the narrator, Robert Redford, illustrates how ley lines similar to prehistoric cultures in Britain and Ireland were established in order to track the movements of both the sun and the moon. In fact, the Chacoan culture is the only civilization known to have tracked and marked, through the alignment of their buildings and hieroglyphs, the 18 1/2 year cycle of the moon across the sky.

This is a fascinating documentary of a culture that was even more complex than ancient European peoples. Both lunar and solar buildings were constructed in various locations across the American Southwest, but especially in Chaco Canyon. The simple hieroglyphs left behind are complex astronomical recorders of both lunar and solar equinoxes, as well as minimum and maximum lunar cycles. The video is rated for grades 7-12, adult, and college audiences. I highly recommend this video for anthropological, sociological, and American studies classes in this age group, and it would probably be of interest to new age audiences and Native American interest groups as well.