Two Great Kivas

looking south towards Chaco Canyon

What a magnificent location, even without the astronomical phenomena provided by the big rocks. This high ridge is surrounded by other ridges and high mountains to the north-east. Looking south, the inhabitants would have been able to signal Huerfano, a mesa just north of Chaco (perhaps 50 miles away?). It is thought they may have communicated calendrical information like the occurance of the equinoxes & solstices. This area may also have provided timber which may have been floated down the Piedra River to Aztec or Salmon.

There are two kivas here, with very different features, though both are contained within the double-walls. Closer to Chimney Rock, the kiva has structures also seen in Chaco for wooden support beams for the roof. In the photo below, note the troughs which held wooden roof supports. There is also a bench around the entire kiva (something the other kiva does not seem to have).

kiva closer to rocks with places for support beams

The other kiva (below) is about the same size but doesn't have the same supports (meaning, to me, that those supports are as symbolic as they are structural). However, it has a 'lip' or rim like nothing I've seen before. Did this help support the roof? Was this an innovation or experiment? Remember, we have two different stones, plus the sun and the moon, and two different kivas. Were these kivas for men vs women or some other social division?

other kiva with curious lip

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Copyright © 2002 by Mark Justice Hinton.
revised Saturday September 14, 2002 11:28 AM