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On the Trail of the Lonesome Pine: Archaeological Paradigms and the Chaco “Tree of Life“

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

W. H. Wills*
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131

Abstract

The great houses of Chaco Canyon (ca. A.D. 850–1150) are widely assumed to represent cosmological meaning through the orientation of walls and other features to celestial events. Archaeological models of such relationships are considered cosmographic. A prominent feature of these models is a lone pine tree at Pueblo Bonito that has been interpreted as a “tree of life” symbolically connecting the physical and heavenly worlds. This study suggests that this interpretation is inconsistent with contextual data and should be dismissed. Future cosmographic research in Chaco should endeavor to develop methods of independent verification that will strengthen inferences about cosmological symbolism in architecture.

Resumen

Resumen

Es ampliamente asumido que las grandes casas de Chaco Canyon (850 a 1150 d.C.) tienen un significado cosmológico debido a la orientación de sus muros y otros rasgos que supuestamente dan referencia a eventos celestiales. Se considera que los modelos arqueológicos de tales representaciones son cosmográficos. Un rasgo clave de estos modelos es la presencia de un árbol de pino solitario en el sitio Pueblo Bonito que ha sido interpretado como un “árbol de la vida” conectando simbólicamente el mundo físico con el celestial. Este estudio sugiere que esta interpretación es inconsistente con los datos contextúales y debería de ser descartado. Investigaciones cosmográficas futuras en Chaco deberían esforzarse en desarrollar métodos de verificación independientes que fortalezcan las inferencias acerca del simbolismo cosmológico en la arquitectura.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © The Society for American Archaeology 2012

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