in the American SouthWest
Prof. Edward Boyda
A Travel Course to New Mexico
Prof. Ron Olowin
(Office: G-103b Galileo Hall; Voice: 925.631.4428; e-mail:
(Office: G-104 Galileo Hall; Voice: 925.631.4426; e-mail:
Text Book: Selected Readings
In both the classroom and in the field, this course will explore the
cosmographic expression of the Chaco Culture of the American Southwest. The Chaco
society, a prehistoric Pueblo
culture, flourished between AD 950 and 1150 throughout the 80,000 km2 of the San
Juan Basin of
northern New Mexico. Chaco Canyon was the center of this culture.
Here the Chaco people constructed multi-storied
buildings containing 100 to 700 rooms. These structures are noted for their
planned, symmetric organization, massive core-veneer masonry construction and
numerous great kivas, the large ceremonial
chambers of the prehistoric pueblo culture.
Astronomy played an important role in the Chaco
culture. This is expressed in the cardinal alignments of the major axes of
several large ceremonial structures at or near the center of the canyon, and in
a complex set of solar and lunar markings on
Fajada Butte, at the south entrance of the
canyon. In addition, many sites in the
surrounding area, in particular, Tsankawi, exhibit petroglyphs, stone
circles and other alignments, astronomical cave paintings, planetaria as well
as a myriad of other astronomically related artifacts such as solstice and
equinox markings and shadowgraphs.
The intent of this course is to explore the ArchaeoAstronomy of these
peoples by providing an historical overview of the Pueblo
culture, basic astronomical observations made by the indigenous peoples, and
visits to the important and relevant sites. Several days will be spent at the
Tsankawi site calculating and observing solar-lunar alignments both in the
traditional fashion and with modern instruments.
The planned field trip will spend 14 days in New
Mexico after a preliminary introduction on campus.
The field trip portion will set up a base camp at Ghost Ranch , an Educational Retreat and Conference Center in the
high desert, North of Santa Fe , New Mexico and proceed
to visit selected sites on a daily basis.
Photo Gallery 1 Photo Gallery 2
Photo Gallery 3 Photo Gallery 4 Photo Gallery 5
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