The Chaco Meridian: Centers of Political Power in the Ancient Southwest

The Chaco Meridian: Centers of Political Power in the Ancient Southwest


By (author) Stephen H. Lekson

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  • Publisher: AltaMira Press,U.S.
  • Format: Paperback | 240 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 224mm x 13mm | 386g
  • Publication date: 28 March 1999
  • Publication City/Country: California
  • ISBN 10: 0761991816
  • ISBN 13: 9780761991816
  • Illustrations note: Illustrations, maps

Product description

Southwestern archaeologists have long pondered the meaning and importance of the monumental 11th-century structures in Chaco Canyon. Now, Stephen H. Lekson offers a lively, provocative thesis, which attempts to reconceptualize the meaning of Chaco and its importance to the understanding of the entire Southwest. Chaco was not alone, according to Lekson, but only one of three capitals of a vast politically and economically integrated region, a network that incorporated most of the Pueblo world and that had contact as far away as Central America. A sophisticated astronomical tradition allowed for astrally aligned monumental structures, great ceremonial roads and-upon the abandonment of Chaco Canyon in the 12th century-the shift of the regional capital first to the Aztec site, then Paquime, all located on precisely the same longitudinal meridian. Lekson's ground-breaking synthesis of 500 years of Southwestern prehistory-with its explanation of phenomena as diverse as the Great North Road, macaw feathers, Pueblo mythology, and the rise of kachina ceremonies-will be of great interest to all those concerned with the prehistory and history of the American Southwest.

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Author information

Stephen H. Lekson teaches at the University of Colorado.

Review quote

Lekson is one of the few archaeologists who writes with a distinctive voice, one of the few who prefers to work without a net... His account of political history of the ancient Southwest ... is a reconstruction that cannot be ignored by those interested in ancient Pueblo history and in the development of political complexity and social inequality. -- Mark D. Varien American Anthropologist Once every generation or so a new work appears that radically changes how we perceive some aspect of the world. [The Chaco Meridian] is one of those 'paradigm-shifting' events in archaeology...It is a fun yet thought-provoking book, a must-read for anyone interested in modern archaeology. -- David Anderson, National Park Service Chaco ... Why would such a thriving civilization grow in such an inhospitable environment? Why would it suddenly disappear? What was its relation to other flourishing areas of the 11th, 12th, 13th centuries? In this remarkable book Lekson overwhelms readers with his answers to these questions. Why are Chaco, Paquime (in Mexico), and Aztec on almost the same 'meridian?' Why were the objects of trade and symbolism in all three similar?

Table of contents

chapter 1 Acknowledgments chapter 2 Apologies chapter 3 1. Pourparler chapter 4 2. Mondo Chaco chapter 5 3. Meridian Nexus chapter 6 4. "A Beautiful Fact Killed by an Ugly Theory" chapter 7 5. Conclusions? chapter 8 Appendix 1: T-Shaped Doors chapter 9 Appendix 2: Culiacan chapter 10 References chapter 11 About the Author