NM-CO: Mile 271

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Here’s an asynchronous, if inauspicious intersection: The Chaco Meridian and the 37th parallel.

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 Canyon (60 miles south of here) 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…. Throughout the Southwest, modern pueblo religions [as do the Navajo] 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.” “For seven centuries,” he argues, “the center of the Pueblo world bounced back and forth over (only) 80 miles, from Chaco Canyon to Sacred Ridge and back again—and then to Aztec Ruins.” * Still, the coincidental alignment of these sites doesn’t prove a causal link. The 37th parallel borderline hasn’t completed its second century, and there’s no connection between the ancient Pueblo peoples and the US Senators who dreamed up the 37th parallel borderline: each group had its own guiding mythology.

*Source: , Scientist Tries to Connect Migration Dots of Ancient Southwest.

N 370 0.0050′ W 1070 57.4145′, elev 6557 ft.