Scientists Study Anasazi Calender
- I think some folks in the orthodoxy are finally starting to see that the so-called "primitive savages" inhabiting the Pre-Columbian Americas were quite advanced in many ways. Of course, it may be too much to hope that these folks would proceed to the next question -From where and whence did this knowledge come? -PB
Scientists Study Anasazi Calender
Mar. 21, 2005
Ed Yeates reporting
Don Smith, College of Eastern Utah, San Juan branch: "I think we're becoming more aware that those people were far more familiar with astronomy, science and possibly math than we give them credit for."
In a secluded ravine near Blanding, scientists and researchers gather to watch mysterious images forming right before their eyes.
Although the rite of Spring, at least on our calendar, slipped in here yesterday almost unnoticed, it's literally in your face in this strange little canyon.
We arrived weeks before spring equinox because people studying this place can come here eight different times during the year to watch a series of events.
It's a little hike to get down to this site, but once here, you can almost feel what it was like a thousand years ago."
For us, the silence is almost unnatural. A bird in the distance, our footsteps - that's about all we could hear. Some spots warmed enough we didn't need a coat. Others cooled off so much - we put them back on. It's not hard to visualize how people a long time ago, tuned their senses in this canyon.
At this one site alone, it's believed the Anasazi followed eight different events, including each solstice, the equinox, and all the events that happened in between."
We came here for one of the cross quarter events: A mid point between winter and spring. Rocks carefully placed and aligned allow the sun to form a shadow of an Indian head. A beam of light penetrating through a small hole, forms an eye.
At another time of the year, the eye moves to a specific target chiseled in the rock.
Dale Slade/Archaeoastronomer: "The accuracy, the shadow changes between a half inch for some events to over an inch a day, allowing them to mark exact days on their calendar.
Here's another face on yet another rock as the sun moves to yet another position.
Dale Slade/Archaeoastronomer: "If they could involve in the event that is happening - a face - it was like inviting their god to participate in the event."
The face of a bear transforms into a human as the sun moves over a crevice.
Dr. Don Smith/College of Eastern Utah, San Juan Branch: "I think we're becoming more aware that those people were far more familiar with astronomy, science and possibly math than we give them credit for."
That's probably why those who are amateurs or professionals - who study these sites- are called archaeoastronomers. The calendar markings are accurate every year. A photograph of spring equinox from last year - right on target - the ancient target that is.
Dr. Don Smith/College of Eastern Utah, San Juan Branch: "It was important that you brought the sun back. It's headed south and if it continues - life is going to be over as you know it."
People didn't live here. Only a select few who needed to know probably used this site. And it may not have been just the Anasazi - but their descendants - the Hopis who perhaps came back to rescue the rocks, to add even more markings.
Dr. Don Smith and Dale Slade hope studies of this Blanding site will soon be published in a professional journal for all their colleagues to see.Warmest Regards,
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