The Ancient Pueblo People would not let the events as summer or winter solstice go unnoticed; or uncelebrated.
Atop the most famous, imposing Fajada Butte in Chaco Canyon three giant slabs of rocks are leaning against the cliff surface, as if trying to hide the spiral petroglyphs carved upon it.
But on the longest day of the year the carvings cannot hide from the power of the sun, when a vertical shaft of light pierces the larger spiral, cutting it in two. Then, half a year later, on the shortest day of the year – the winter solstice – two different shaft of light would embrace the same spiral, reflecting each other perfectly.
The recognition of the both solstices was very important. But to predict their arrival was as crucial, so more sites, such as another great, multi-roomed and multistoried house on Wijiji, would be used to observe the upcoming event, weeks before it would occur. This way, the time was gained to prepare the elaborated ceremonies and the sun would continue caring for the world, moving upon its usual course willingly, appreciating the efforts of grateful humans.
Back atop Fajada Butte, on the spring and fall equinoxes, another dagger of light would reach the center of the smaller spiral, while the large light shaft would shift to the right of the first spiral. And, it’s argued, the same system was used to track the lunar cycle as well.
The Chacoan People would scan the sky carefully, while building their multi-storey, great houses of hundreds, well conditioned rooms. By the 11th century they represented the ceremonial and economic center of the whole region, and their influence spread far and wide. A network of well-planned and well-kept roads connected those hundreds of great ceremonial centers, and probably, the rest of the farming communities. The trade with the south and the northeast had flourished, so event the high-pitched cries of the colorful macaws can be heard in the New Mexican desert.
Nothing seemed to be able to undermine the Great Cliff Dwellers’ ambitious undertakings.
Then the climate began to change…