Chaco Canyon was a major center of ancestral Pueblo culture that occupied a vast region of New Mexico for over 2000 years. It preserves remarkable elements of this pre-Columbian cultural complex that dominated the majority of the southwestern US between 850 and 1250 AD. Apart from Chaco Culture National Park, this network of archaeological sites also includes the Aztec Ruins National Monument and five additional protected archaeological areas. These sites were a center for ceremonies, trade, and political activities.
Chaco Culture National Park is outstanding for its monumental public and ceremonial buildings as well as its distinctive urban architecture. Given the region’s harsh environment, the construction of these sites as well as the elaborate roads connecting them are noteworthy. That is, the finely organized structures, featuring multi-story “great houses” and sophisticated masonry work, indicate the complexity of Chaco Culture’s social architecture.
The incidence of storage areas indicates that it was highly probable that the Chacoans also played an important economic role in the area. The large size and distinctive features of the ceremonial kivas (large underground rooms serving for religious ceremonies) also suggest that complex religious ceremonies were probably significant in their lives.