National Geographic : 1925 Sep
VoL. XLVIII, No. 3 WASHINGTON SEPTEMBER, 1925 NATIONALLY MAGAZ lIIh EVERYDAY LIFE IN PUEBLO BONITO As Disclosed by the National Geographic Society's Arche ologic Explorations in the Chaco Canyon National Monument, New Mexico BY NEIL M. JUDD LEADER OF TIE PUEBLO BONITO EXPEDITIONS EVEN in ruin Pueblo Bonito stands as a tribute to its unknown builders. It is one of the most remarkable achievements of all the varied Indian peo ples who dwelt within the present United States in prehistoric times. Pueblo Bonito is a massive communal dwelling - a village within itself - that sheltered, in its heyday, no less than 1,200 individuals. It is a broken pile of once terraced homes that rose four stories in height and covered ten times more ground than does the White House, in Washing ton. It is the dead echo of an aboriginal venture in democracy that reverberated throughout our desert regions at least 500 years before Columbus set forth on his memorable journey to the New World. The National Geographic Society began intensive exploration of Pueblo Bonito in 1921. Each succeeding summer has found The Society's representatives at work there, delving into the secrets of an an cient people who left no written record of their thoughts and experiences. A hundred thousand tons of earth and stone and blown sand have been carted away, revealing a veritable maze of empty rooms in which the former occupants unwit tingly left the ineradicable thumbprints of their distinctive culture. From these material fragments-earth enware vessels, agricultural tools, personal ornaments, and bits of ceremonial para phernalia - we seek to reconstruct the wordless history of the now-vanished Bo nitians. The records are sometimes diffi cult, sometimes impossible, of interpreta tion. Again, the story fairly flows from the specimen in hand. TIIE ONLY KNOWN NECKLACE OF ITS KIND DISCOVERED What reader, for example, fails to un derstand and appreciate that marvelous turquoise necklace recovered by the ex pedition of 1924? (See Color Plate IV and text, page 246.) Its purpose is quite manifest. The lapidarian skill of its maker, the joy and pride its original owner must have felt in sheer possession of it, are perfectly obvious. But the reader can scarcely know that an unbelievable amount of labor went into fabrication of this prehistoric jewel; that the rough, unworked stone was obtained only at the cost of great human effort; that the 2,500 beads composing the string were made individually by rubbing small disks of matrix back and forth across sandstone tablets; that each tiny piece was drilled separately with a sharpened flint or some still more pointed instrument.