Anasazi Great Houses of the Chaco Canyon Region

Topics: Pages: 8 (1768 words) / Published: Jun 21st, 2002
Native American architecture varies greatly from region to region throughout North America, and was influenced by factors such as climate, kind of community, and the natural environment. Whereas some buildings were designed and constructed for specified functions, others, such as Anasazi great houses, were massive multi-purpose structures. Because great houses from Chaco Canyon are so well preserved, it is possible to have a decent understanding of the structure of Anasazi architecture for analysis. A close examination of the innovative Anasazi great house architecture of the Chaco Canyon region reveals its utilitarian value. Chaco Canyon, located in northwest New Mexico, is full of plateaus and canyons. Though the area may appear unsuitable for habitation, the Anasazi were able to adapt to this environment by building homes using materials found in abundance around the Chaco Canyon region. (Fig. 1) The apartment style of building of great houses, "multistoried communal strongholds"1 , began to appear during the late ninth century, dying down into the twelfth century A.D.2 While wood usually had to be imported from a distance, sandstone was readily available and used primarily in this geometric style of architecture. Although no one knows the exact reasons why, the Anasazi moved to create these large complexes now known as great houses, breaking away from previously more traditional pithouse communities. Perhaps it was safer to commune as a large group, protecting themselves from enemies. Another possibility can be seen through examination of the heating and cooling benefits of the Chaco Canyon great house style of architecture. Solar energy and climate were major contributing factors in the building plans of Anasazi architecture. The climate can be harsh in the Four Corners region of the country, with extremely hot days and very cool nights, unbearably hot summers, and frigid winters. In order to protect the inhabitants from their environment, the


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