Timber Pilgrimage: Timber Importation as Pilgrimage to Chaco Canyon

Author(s): Sean Field

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Sacred Southwestern Landscapes: Archaeologies of Religious Ecology" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Beginning with Neil Judd’s early speculations about timber importation, the Chaco road network has been the basis of diverse and often contrasting archaeological interpretations about the use of such unique landscape features. While a wide-array of interpretations have been suggested, recent least cost analyses reiterate Judd's earliest interpretations—that certain roads may have been the most efficient pathways for the movement of construction timbers across the San Juan Basin. Although such utilitarian ideas are enticing on their own, more accurate conceptualizations of Chaco roads may aim to integrate ideas of ecology, optimality, and religion. Here I emphasize a holistic interpretation of Chaco roads and suggest that some roads were simultaneously routes for efficient movement and paths of ceremonial pilgrimage. Doing so requires that these roads and the routes they represent be interpreted on a landscape scale, with an equal emphasis on the places, the path between, and the objects being carried.

Cite this Record

Timber Pilgrimage: Timber Importation as Pilgrimage to Chaco Canyon. Sean Field. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450406)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -124.365; min lat: 25.958 ; max long: -93.428; max lat: 41.902 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 23948