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Natural Survival
We’ve forgotten things our ancestors depended on for survival. We ignore events in the skies, watching TV or computer screens in our homes instead, and get our food from the grocery store.

Chimney Rock and Companion Rock, Colorado

Chimney Rock, Colorado

Food, Shelter and Seasons
The Ancestral Puebloans had no TV and no computers. They filled their time with producing food and shelter instead. They probably first tracked sunrise cycles to time their planting of maize, squash and beans, and they may have developed ceremonies to bless the celestial signs of the coming season. They must have noticed changes in the moon’s monthly positions over 18.6 year cycles along with sunrise movement at different seasons.

Moon Tracking
Bronze Age masons built Stonehenge partly to mark the moon’s path at lunar standstills. North America’s Ancestral Puebloans used Chimney Rock. Looking east, by 1057 they had noticed the full moon rising at lunar standstill between Chimney Rock and Companion Rock. Tree-ring dating tells us they completed a pueblo between the two in time to watch it again in December 1076. A second set of tree-ring dates from remodeling in the site’s East Kiva comes from 1093, the year of the next lunar standstill.

Sunrise Tracking
Solstice sunrises weren’t visible from the pueblo. They probably watched them from a separate site marked with a basin carved in the stone at the western end of Chimney Rock mesa.

Ancestral Puebloans also built at 12 separate sites on Peterson Ridge to the west, presumably to watch sunrises between the Rocks through the year. The largest site is within 0.4 degrees of an east-west line passing through the center of the gap between the Rocks. This would make that site a perfect observation point for equinox sunrises in March and September.

Colors and Shadows – Chimney Rock, Colorado

When my wife Pat and I hiked at Chimney Rock, the pueblo at the summit was closed to visitation. But the fall colors and beautiful day were a great consolation prize. We discovered a recovering forest northeast of the mesa. Everything must have burned within the last five years or so, except the taller conifers. There were small oaks and other shrubs just starting to grow.

See more pictures here.