Friends in High Places: Windes, Shrines, and Lines of Sight


In the 1970s, Tom Windes began documenting shrines and stone circles around Chaco Canyon. Decades before landscape archaeologists spoke of viewsheds, Tom recognized the significance of visibility at Chaco. He observed that J-shaped Windes’ shrines create intervisible connections among great houses, and he pointed out that stone circles in Chaco are always within sight of one or more great kivas. Today, GIS is a useful tool for examining intervisibility across large areas. Inspired by Tom, and utilizing data he collected and graciously shared, we employ GIS line of sight and viewshed analyses to assess intervisibility among great houses, shrines, stone circles, herraduras, and high places across the Chacoan world. As Tom originally postulated, we demonstrate that shrines on high places create a network of intervisible connections linking outlier communities and landforms. It is possible that the boundaries of Chaco are defined in some sense by intervisibility.

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Cite this Record

Friends in High Places: Windes, Shrines, and Lines of Sight. Ruth Van Dyke, R. Kyle Bocinsky, Tucker Robinson. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395280)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;