National Geographic : 1982 Nov
as 30 miles distant, and dragging or carrying them back to the canyon. We estimate they manhandled as many as 100,000 timbers to roof the great pueblos." The roof beams demanded as much craftsmanship as the stonework. "The Cha coans weren't content with rough, axed-off rafters," said Dr. William J. Robinson of the University of Arizona Laboratory of Tree Ring Research. "Using slabs of sandstone, they sanded the beams until the ends of each were smooth." When finished, Pueblo Bonito held some 650 rooms and was the largest, most com plex building of its kind in the Anasazi world. The front plaza held two large circu lar chambers known as great kivas, used for community functions. Eleven other great pueblos in or near the canyon embraced an other 2,000 rooms. Here, in what is now a wasteland, stood housing for thousands. Artifacts from the great pueblos suggest their occupants' activities. Thousands of turquoise beads, found among galaxies of flakes, tell of craftsmen working this stone, possibly for trade with Mexican civiliza tions. Unversed in metallurgy, the Cha coans imported small copper bells along with brilliant macaws, prized for plumage. Grinding rooms held ranks of stone meta tes, and other chambers yielded personal ef fects that indicate dwelling areas. Many held nothing, suggesting that they were used for storing food and other perishables. As they built the great pueblos, the Cha coans also were installing a vast array of water-control devices. "The north side of the canyon was proba bly covered with irrigated fields," explained Dr. Gwinn Vivian of the Arizona State Mu seum in Tucson. "The source of the moisture was runoff from the rim that normally cas caded uselessly down side canyons into Chaco Wash. With a system of ditches and Etched by moonlight, a ladderand its shadow point the way to a cave carved from volcanic tuff at the base of FrijolesCanyon in Bandelier NationalMonument (left). Candles light the cave's interior,as well as that of anotherto the right. Most archaeologistsfeel that the caves were living and storage rooms contiguous to main dwellings built of blocks of tuff; the remnants of walls stand beside the ladder. But CharlieR. Steen, an archaeologistformerly with Los Alamos NationalLaboratory, believes that such cave rooms had a religiouspurpose. "They were small, poorly ventilated, and intentionally blackened by a fire from resinouswoods," he says. Some, like a cave in Sandia Canyon (right), contained rock artsuch as this animalfigure surroundedby human ones. "The caves were places where a man could go to pray," Steen concludes.