Chaco Canyon: Ancient Mysteries and Histories with Marc Callis

Chaco Canyon: Ancient Mysteries and Histories with Marc Callis


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The American Southwest abounds with spectacular canyons, but one, in particular, stands out not just for its natural beauty, but also for its rich cultural and historical significance. Meet Chaco Canyon, one of only 11 culturally-based UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the US. In this conversation, we will examine civilizations of the North American Southwest and Mexico, specifically how important long-distance connections predating the Spanish by centuries shaped the cultures of the ancient Southwest.

Set along the banks of a remote wash in the Southern San Juan River basin of New Mexico, and even today accessible only by dirt road, Chaco Canyon harbors the vestiges of a civilization whose origins date back to the time when the Old Medina of Fez was just getting started, and whose major construction ceased decades before Richard the Lionheart of Robin Hood fame ascended to the throne of England. The people of Chaco Canyon constructed colossal structures known as "Great Houses" -- the largest of which, Pueblo Bonito, rivaled the Roman Colosseum in size and laid a system of roads and outlier sites that spread out over an area the size of Indiana. Then, as the second quarter of the twelfth century dawned, they mysteriously ceased building entirely.

This conversation will explore a place that is arguably the greatest center of civilization in the entire history of the Pre-Columbian North American Southwest. We will delve into their society, architecture, and art. We will discuss what archaeologists have dubbed "The Chaco Interaction Sphere," and explore the issue of whether or not this cultural area might properly be termed an "Empire." We will cover the Chacoans' interactions with the other peoples of the Southwest, as well their connections with the great centers of civilization of Mesoamerica far to the south. And finally, we will attempt to answer perhaps the greatest questions of all -- why, after constructing such monumental architecture, did they leave it all behind? And having done that, where did the descendants of the architects of Chaco go?

Led by a historian and archaeologist, Marc Callis, this interactive seminar will introduce participants to the mysteries of Chaco Canyon. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased knowledge of the history, art, and architecture of this important site.

Trained as a historian and archaeologist, Marc has worked at history museums and community colleges all over the US. His historical interests, which have led him to author numerous historical articles, academic and popular, for publications in the US and Europe, range from architectural history, to the Spanish Empire, to Mesoamerica and the pre-Hispanic North American Southwest. His current historical project is a book about the Presidio (i.e., old Spanish fort) San Agustin del Tucson in Tucson, Arizona. Additionally, Marc likes to shoot photographs, paint, build models, and write cosmicist fantasy in the tradition of HP Lovecraft. In 2017 he published his first collection of stories and novellas entitled "The Esoteric Order of Dagon."

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 2 reviews
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D
D.
Detailed and provocative lecture on the Chaco culture

Very thorough and scholarly, with excellent discursions into other scholar's opinions on the subject. Also a great narrative arc to the entire presentation.

K
K.K.L.
Chaco Canyon Experience - Wow!

Marc Callis presented an engaging and informative presentation about Chaco Canyon. His visuals were clear and interesting, as was his narrative. I am sure there is A LOT more that Marc could share on this and related topics, but the breadth and depth of the talk seemed well done for a short experience. I will watch for future offerings from him!

Customer Reviews

Based on 2 reviews
100%
(2)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
D
D.
Detailed and provocative lecture on the Chaco culture

Very thorough and scholarly, with excellent discursions into other scholar's opinions on the subject. Also a great narrative arc to the entire presentation.

K
K.K.L.
Chaco Canyon Experience - Wow!

Marc Callis presented an engaging and informative presentation about Chaco Canyon. His visuals were clear and interesting, as was his narrative. I am sure there is A LOT more that Marc could share on this and related topics, but the breadth and depth of the talk seemed well done for a short experience. I will watch for future offerings from him!