I recently had the pleasure of traveling in the southwest. I wanted to share some of the books my journey touched on.
We spent 4 days in Chaco Canyon. It is a magical place. Very few Americans know about the fascinating history of the Anasazi and other southwest Indians. Recent archaeological research points to a huge empire, not unlike the Incas and Aztecs in geographic scope, centered in Chaco Canyon, NM. Many people are aware of the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde. As amazing as they are, they are dwarfed by Chaco, especially Pueblo Bonito, shown in an architect’s reconstructed image above. Massive buildings, 800 rooms, scattered across and above the canyon.
I wrote a bit about the region and it’s history on my personal blog. Crazy stuff. Signal fires communicating between mountain tops 50 miles apart. Ancient roads running hundreds of miles in a straight line. Ritual cannibalism.
If you want to read more about Chaco and this “lost” empire, there’s no finer place to start than Stephen Lekson’s book The Chaco Meridian. Lekson is the complete opposite of the dry academic — his books and papers are replete with Monty Python jokes, horrible puns and the like, and he’s quite controversial in his field, and politely merciless to his detractors. You’ll enjoy it.
And for exploring the territory and getting a sense of the land and how it influences the history of the Anasazi, Craig Child’s House of Rain is magic.
Tomorrow, we hit Santa Fe. George R.R. Martin territory!
(for a great list of books about the ancient southwest, check out this list on The Hawaii Project.)