waiting for an alignment," says the woman when we stumble across
her, smiling beatifically as she sits in the corner of an empty room.
No, she’s not talking about her car. This is Chaco Canyon on
the summer solstice, and folks
of all stripes have journeyed here from far and wide for the occasion.
Here, alignments are all about
with the thousand-year-old artifacts and architecture of the ancient
Pueblo culture, this canyon is also home to a number of sites that
are thought to be ancient observatories. At these sites, some as simple
as a few circles carved on a rock face, shafts of sunlight align with
human-made markers that were probably used to chart and celebrate
celestial patterns, in particular, the seasonal shifts of the sun.
We say "probably" because there’s no way to know exactly
what the inhabitants of Chaco Canyon had in mind when they crafted
the various sites that today we invest with astronomical significance.
Still, the great number of possible sites constitutes a preponderance
of evidence that, while circumstantial, is hard to ignore. In the
words of G. B. Cornucopia, interpreter and resident of Chaco Canyon,
"The greatest coincidence of all would be that they were all
the tour -->
out about seasons and solstices -->