19th century American surveyors were not alone in laying down abstract lines over the southwest landscape. Archaeologist Steve Lekson has proposed that there are too many archaeological sites on a line (107o57′ W. Longitude) running due north and south from ‘downtown’ Chaco to be an accident, and he labels this line the ‘Chaco Meridian’.
From the New York Times (6/29/2009): There is plenty of evidence that ancient Americans were keenly aware of the cardinal directions. Watch the night sky long enough and it becomes clear that there is one star that does not move while the others circle around it: the north star or Polaris. Motivated perhaps by this knowledge, some ceremonial structures at Chaco are aligned on north-south axes, and the earthen walls at Paquimé zig and zag as though, Dr. Lekson says, they were “laid out on giant graph paper or with the old children’s toy Etch A Sketch.” Throughout the Southwest, modern pueblo religions typically include four sacred mountains, one for each direction, and pueblo people tell stories of ancestors moving south because of bad things that happened in the north.
If these people had been “meridian compulsive,” as Dr. Lekson puts it, they had the astronomical knowledge to plot and follow a long straight line. “Lining things up is not an issue,” he says. “The question is why.”