Notes on Kite Aerial Photography: Photo Gallery

pueblo bonito #2
Chaco Canyon, New Mexico

Climbing the path to the top of the Chaco mesa. As one picks their way through a cleft in the mesa wall it is hard not to imagine all the feet that passed this way over the preceding centuries  (Canon 15-mm, June 1998)

The name Pueblo Bonito is Spanish for "beautiful town." Carravahal, a guide from San Juan Pueblo, provided Lt. James Simpson with the name during a military expedition that came through Chaco in 1849. Following the expedition, Simpson published the first detailed description of the ruins in Chaco Canyon. The Bentons arrived in 1998 with much the bluster of a military expedition. Perhaps we took the first kite aerial photographs of pueblo bonito.

Richard Wetherill  a rancher at the turn of the century and an archeologist, and George Pepper, from the American Museum of Natural History, were the first to excavate at Pueblo Bonito. Wetherill and Pepper began their excavations in Pueblo Bonito in 1896, and by the time they were finished, they had excavated 190 rooms. They located, photographed, and mapped all of the major structures in the canyon. In addition, they recorded Anasazi irrigation systems, stairways, roads and water catchment areas, and sponsored other researchers including a physical anthropologist and a geologist. After they completed their excavations in 1899, Wetherill remained in the canyon, homesteading and operating a trading post until his death in 1910. He lived in the most preserved of pueblo bonito's rooms.

A view of the mesa edge looming to the north of pueblo bonito  (Canon 24-mm, June 1998) and a photograph of Bentons on the bluff edge (Canon 15-mm, June 1998) . This is the vantage point for many a photograph of the ruins.

The number of rooms in pueblo bonito suggests that many people lived here -- estimates run around 5,000 inhabitants toward the end of its occupancy. The great houses probably served as religious and cultural centers. Archeologists have traced an extensive network of roads linking Chaco Canyon to outlying Anasazi settlements. 

A variety of aerial views of pueblo bonito  (Canon 24-mm, June 1998).


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