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No. 46: Jul-Aug 1986

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Tree-toting extraordinaire

We quote first an abstract from an article appearing in American Antiquity.

"Identification of spruce (Picea) and fir (Abies) construction timbers at Chetro Ketl in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, implies that between A.D. 1031 and 1120 the Anasazi transported thousands of logs more than 75 km. These timbers came from high elevations, probably in mountains to the south (Mt. Taylor) and west (Chuska Mountains) where Chacoan interaction was well established. Survey in these mountains might disclose material evidence of these prehistoric logging activities."

The article proper contains even more startling statistics. The ten major pueblos in Chaco Canyon alone consumed an estimated 200,000 trees. The average primary beam was 22 cm in diameter, 5 m in length, and weighed about 275 kg (600 pounds). Since these logs show no transportation scars, they were probably carried rather than dragged or rolled. Such labor required a large, complex sociocultural system.

(Betancourt, Julio L., et al; "Prehistoric Long-Distance Transport of Construction Beams, Chaco Canyon, New Mexico," American Antiquity, 51:370, 1986.)

From Science Frontiers #46, JUL-AUG 1986. 1986-2000 William R. Corliss