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Chaco Canyon Photos: The Center of an Ancient World

Pueblo Bonito

Shown here, the back, curved wall (north) of Pueblo Bonito, taken northwest of the site of Chaco Canyon.

(Image credit: National Park Service)

About a millennium ago, the ancestral Pueblo Indians in the Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico obtained their precious turquoise using a large trade network spanning several states, new research reveals. Shown here, the back, curved wall (north) of Pueblo Bonito, taken northwest of the site of Chaco Canyon.

Casa Chiquita

Casa Chiquita, shown here, is located near the old north entrance to Chaco Canyon; the ruin is composed of a square block of rooms surrounding a central elevated round room, according to the University of Colorado. Casa Chiquita likely dates to around A.D

(Image credit: National Park Service)

Casa Chiquita, shown here, is located near the old north entrance to Chaco Canyon; the ruin is composed of a square block of rooms surrounding a central elevated round room, according to the University of Colorado. Casa Chiquita likely dates to around A.D. 1100 to 1130.

New Alto

New Alto, shown here, is one of two great houses built next to each other on the mesa just north of Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon.

(Image credit: National Park Service)

New Alto, shown here, is one of two great houses built next to each other on the mesa just north of Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon.

Mesa Verde

mesa verde

(Image credit: National Park Service)

In the new study, detailed in the May 2014 issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science, researchers traced Chaco Canyon turquoise artifacts back to resource areas in Colorado, Nevada and southeastern California. The results definitively show, for the first time, that the ancestral Puebloans — best known for their multistoried adobe houses —in the San Juan Basin area of New Mexico did not get all of their turquoise from a nearby mining site, as was previously believed.

Turquoise artifacts

Here, turquoise beads recovered from early excavations at Pueblo Bonito, the largest great house in Chaco Canyon.

(Image credit: Sharon Hull and Mostafa Fayek)

Here, turquoise beads recovered from early excavations at Pueblo Bonito, the largest great house in Chaco Canyon.

Starry night

Pueblo Bonito at night with star paths.

(Image credit: National Park Service)

Pueblo Bonito at night with star paths.

Pueblo Ruins

Pueblo Bonito seen from a cliff.

(Image credit: National Park Service)

Pueblo Bonito seen from a cliff.

Turquoise Trade

Map of the Puebloan turquoise trade network in the American Southwest.

(Image credit: Hull et al., Elsevier.)

Map of the Puebloan turquoise trade network in the American Southwest.