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Colour and Directional Symbolism in Ancestral Pueblo Radial Offerings from Chaco Canyon

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 May 2021

Hannah V. Mattson
Affiliation:
Anthropology MSC01-1040 1 University of New Mexico Albuquerque, NM 87131 USA Email: hmattson@unm.edu
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

Dedicatory offerings of small colourful objects are often found in pre-Hispanic architectural contexts in the Ancestral Pueblo region of the American Southwest. These deposits are particularly numerous in the roof support pillars of circular ritual structures (kivas) at the site of Pueblo Bonito, Chaco Canyon, which served as the ceremonial hub of the Chacoan regional system between the tenth and twelfth centuries ce. Based on the importance of directionality and colour in traditional Pueblo worldviews, archaeologists speculate that the contents of these radial offerings may likewise reference significant Chacoan cosmographic elements. In this paper, I explore this idea by examining the distribution of colours and materials in kiva pilaster repositories in relation to directional quadrants, prominent landscape features, and raw material sources. I discuss the results in the context of Pueblo cosmology and assemblage theory, arguing that particular colours were polyvalent and relational, deriving their meanings from their positions within interacting and heterogenous assemblages.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research

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