THE ANASAZI - Canyonland Architects

 

A thousand years ago, the Anasazi, and adjoining indigenous groups began to abandon their primitive pit-houses in the four corners region of the American southwest. As these cultures developed, they began building in the canyons, caves, and mesa tops of this arid land. The often massive structures which they designed and built contained granaries, round ceremonial worship chambers, known as ďkivasĒ, work areas, and sleeping quarters. The size of these complexes varied greatly. Some of them, including White House Ruin, could only hold an extended family group; others, such as Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon, were designed to accommodate thousands of inhabitants. Decorative masonry styles were unique to distinct groups within this region. And interior walls were plastered, painted, and decorated. The caves and nearby canyon walls were also adorned with petroglyphs of animals, warriors, and mythical creatures.


The dry, clear atmosphere of this isloated area has helped to preserve more than the architecture of these peoples. It has helped modern researchers to find much evidence of a rich, well-developed culture. Complex Anasazi religious practices were closely tied to the cultivation of crops. Animals such as turkeys and dogs were domesticated. Individual decorated pottery styles have been linked to specific sites within this region. Flutes have been discovered which have perfect pitch. Cotton cloth was woven with intricate, precision designs.


Although this region seems remote today, at itís peak this civilization developed a network of hundreds of miles of straight, well-maintained roads which connected many of itís larger centres, such as Chaco Canyon, Canyon de Chelley, and Aztec Ruins. Thus, each group within this region interracted with many of itís neighbours. Naturally, there is much evidence of trade within this area. More interesting is proof of trade with other regions, suggested by objects aquired from outside the desert Southwest. Shells from the Gulf of Mexico, macaws from Central America, and precious stones from the Pacific coast all attest to a vast trade network which reached far beyond the four corners region.


After only a few hundred years of life in the canyonlands of the Southwest, the Anasazi and their neighbours abandoned the pueblos and cliff-dwellings of their homeland. Why? There is no evidence of warfare. There were droughts, but these hardy people were masters at surviving long periods without water. Many of their doorways were sealed shut. Did they plan to return to these amazing structures in the canyons and mesas of the desert? We may never know


All photographs are hand printed in limited editions, and have been selenium toned and archivally double-matted to ensure permanence.

 
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