Sunday, August 17, 2008

Great Kiva Trail at Chimney Rock

The Great Kiva Trail is a 0.33 mile paved loop that visits the Lower Village area of the Chimney Rock Archaeology Area in the San Juan National Forest in southwest Colorado. There is also the Pueblo Trail that climbs to a large room block near the mysterious Chimney Rocks.
  Chimney Rock is thought to be a Chaco Canyon influenced area and is located between Bayfield and Pagosa Springs, about 100 miles northeast of Chaco Canyon. The location of the Chimney Rock is unusual for Ancestral Pueblo sites in that it is a high elevation area, away from the river area where most of the food production would have taken place.

One of the excavated structures for viewing is called the Pit House, a circular above ground structure with three work rooms attached. This example is similar to the other 18 residence structures in the lower village.

The excavations of the work rooms found grinding stones for food processing, hammer stones and axes, cooking pots, and fire wood. The walls in the structures in this area are thicker than seen at other sites in the region, perhaps giving better insulation in the winter.

The Great Kiva is the main attraction along this trail. A large kiva like this would be for use by the entire community. This is the largest single room in this high mesa collection of sites. This structure is 44 feet across. When this site was excavated, not much roof material was found, leading to the thought that this might have been an open air kiva.

The internal features of the kiva include a fire pit and foot drums. The foot drums seem odd to me. It is thought that skins were stretched across the stone frame and would be beaten with the feet of the ceremonial participants.

No evidence of sipapu has been found at any of the kivas in this area. The sipapu is a small symbolic hole in the floor that represents the connection with the spirit world. The whole Chimney Rock area features a lot of religion, but it is directed toward sighting the sun and moon through the rocks.

The trail continues on to several other sites that are mostly rubble mounds, including The Salvage Site and the Sun Tower Site. There are views across the Piedra River to the Peterson Mesa where there are also 30 known village sites. The sites on Peterson Mesa are thought to have good views of the sunrise through the notch of the Chimney Rocks.

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