Lunar minor SS N rise

Pueblo del Arroyo

Main axis

11408 (180O-6502)

Lunar minor SS S rise

Kin Kletso

Main axis

11402 (l80O-6508)

Lunar minor SS S rise

a From Sofaer (1997).

b No distinction is made between alignment directions A and A ± 180°, as per Table 13.1.

c Abbreviations as per Table 13.1. In addition to those shown, Sofaer (1997) suggests that a number of sites encompass angles along building diagonals that are suggestive of solar solstice azimuths and the complement (90 - A) of major or minor lunar standstills.

Sofaer (1997) summarizes the work done to date on the astronomical and cosmographic basis for the layout of the Chacoan sites, pueblos built between the early 9th and 12th centuries a.d. The Fajada Butte site has been associated directly with these Chacoan sites by the discovery of a road leading from the main area of the pueblos to that site. The symbolic representations indicating interest in equinoxes, solstices, and the major standstill of the Moon are now confirmed by low-precision alignments of (and between) indi vidual buildings and sites. Aligned sites are often connected by major ceremonial roads. Fourteen important Chacoan sites have been examined as part of the Solstice Project, a conclusion of which is that the arrangement of structures within and between sites are determined by cosmological-astronomical principles. Examples of intersite alignments reported by Sofaer (1997) are summarized in Table 13.1, whereas alignments within buildings are listed in Table 13.2. Both sets of data are from Sofaer (1997). The most impor

Figure 13.2. Map of the Chaco Canyon area in the Four Corners region of the U.S. southwest: Dotted lines connect four sacred mountains. Drawing by Sharon Hanna.

tant characteristic of these alignments is the repeated presence of reciprocal alignments, sometimes with structurally similar buildings. No natural features except the rising and setting of heavenly bodies or their movements along the horizon show such reciprocity. It is, however, possible that some of the alignments found refer to planets or fixed stars, rather than exclusively to solar and lunar measurements, and in places could be somewhat more precise than Sofaer now thinks. Many solar and lunar alignments (see §3.2.1 for a discussion of standstills) are claimed for various building facings and site-to-site directional lines, but it is not clear in the present summary on what basis the selection of alignment features had been made, or if horizon visibility permitted astronomical alignment along all the site-lines investigated. Firm conclusions about intentional alignments must await these and other technical details, concerning, for example, elevation information about backsights and foresights at individual sites, but the apparent wide-scale astronomical site-lines embodied in archeological placements are encouraging.

Chaco Canyon is in the heart of present-day Navaho country. Although the Navaho language is related to the Athapaskan languages of Canada, the people have adopted many of the customs and beliefs of their Yuman, Uto-Aztecan, and other Puebloan predecessors. Indeed, many of those people were incorporated into Navaho groups. Haile's

(1947/1977) brief statements about their calendar indicate that it resembles Yuman calendars in that six months of the year were defined by the rising of particular stars. In these circumstances, it is probable that Navaho mythology and star lore are at least partially derived from Chacoan prototypes. It is therefore important that we have a fuller knowledge of Navaho asterisms and their relationship to mythology than we have for any other group in North America. Moreover, conventionalized star diagrams appear on ceremonial rattles and in sand paintings. The bounds of the area are marked by the four sacred mountains: White Shell Mountain (Mt. Blanco) to the east; Turquoise Mountain (Mt. Taylor) to the south; Abalone Mountain (Mt. Humphrey, San Francisco Peaks) to the west; and Jet Mountain (Mt. Hesperus) to the north. The relationships among the sites are shown in Figure 13.2.

A line drawn between Turquoise and Jet Mountains passes close to the late Chaco site of Aztec,3 as does a line between White Shell and Abalone Mountains. The latter alignment is close to 69°, corresponding to the Chetro Ketl-Bineola alignment. Navaho asterisms are represented in

3 The inappropriate name Aztec is a product of speculation about connections with Mexico when the site was first discovered. Even the late Chaco sites antedate Aztec culture by more than two centuries.

conventionalized ways but are important in the culture, appearing in sand-paintings, on gourd rattles, and in rock art. The most frequent portrayal of asterisms is in the sand-paintings used in healing ceremonies. The crucial factors in identifying Navaho asterisms seem to be the ceremonial context in which they appear, their position, and their shape. Some singers (who make the sand-paintings) seem to have tried to match the drawings of asterisms with their celestial counterparts in their orientation and in the number of visible stars, but others largely ignored such matters. The accounts of Navaho asterisms collected by Haile (1947/1977) include maps prepared by informants; designs on ceremonial rattles and sand-paintings; discussions of ceremonies associated either with particular asterisms or generically with stars; myths relating to figures identified with asterisms; and a little information on calenders. Haile was able to get the names of 37 asterisms, some of which are single stars. Attempts to determine more closely the astronomical identities of Navaho asterisms have been made by Chamberlain (1983) and Griffin-Pierce (1986). Interestingly, the Hero Twins give their names to asterisms, but are distinguished from them (Haile 1947/1977, p. 16). Perhaps, as heroes, they have planetary identities, although Haile contrasts their activities "on earth." A series of stars, used in some way as month markers from March to October, were regarded as feathers in the headdress of the Thunder Bird. Songs come from the sky people and "white thunder" songs come from the north. There was a contest over this between "white thunder" (presumably a form of the Thunder Bird) and "rock wren." The wren won (Haile 1947/1977, pp. 35-36). "Lightning" is another nearby asterism (Haile 1947/1977, pp. 9-10, 30). An interesting myth about Black God, Lord of Fire, says that he originally had the Pleiades on his ankle, then on his knees, then on his hip, and finally on his forehead, which is where they are shown in depictions of Black God (Haile 1947/1977, pp. 2-3). Other accounts indicate that Black God was once associated with the North Pole; he was replaced there by the red southern star, Coyote, and Black God went to the center (Haile 1947, p. 41). These transpositions are very difficult to understand.

A small asterism in the tail of Scorpio (Griffin-Pierce 1986) is called "Rabbit Tracks." Although we know of no Navaho evidence associating Rabbit and Moon, the idea is attested archeologically in the area. The tail of Scorpio, seen from this area, rises very close to the rising point of the Moon at its southern extremity. The same name is given to an asterism by the Chemehuevi in California (Hudson 1984, p. 53). According to Griffin-Pierce (1986), the nearby "Big Star" is Venus, but Haile says that it is "Big Black Star" (Haile 1947/1977, p. 8, #11). The Navaho star maps in Figure 13.3 show two asterisms with the shape usually assigned to "rabbit tracks," one in Scorpio, and the other "near" Ursa

Figure 13.4. A sand-painting with asterisms, including the Big Dipper and the Pleiades, on the body of Father Sky. Drawing by Sharon Hanna.
Figure 13.5. A possible Navajo star map on a rock wall. Drawing by Sharon Hanna.

Major. The latter may refer to Castor, Pollux, and two nearby stars. Castor is ~9°N of the (1950) ecliptic, and Pollux is ~6°N of the ecliptic. Because the Moon can vary ± 5° from the ecliptic, these stars could be reasonable markers for the northern major lunar standstill.

A sand-painting of Father Sky, bearing symbols of the Sun and Moon, and asterisms (including the Big Dipper, Polaris, Cassiopeia, and the Pleiades), is seen in Figure 13.4. In some representations, Father Sky is shown in intimate relations with Mother Earth.

Williamson (1984, pp. 170-171) says that some Navaho rock art also contains depictions of known Navaho aster-isms, including "Rabbit Tracks," near Wijiji in Chaco Canyon and in Blanco Canyon. A possible star map on a rock wall in the Navaho territory is seen in Figure 13.5.

The Pima have a chant associated with the June solstice and the Saguaro "wine" ceremony. Hoskinson (1992) shows the astronomical nature of most of the references in the chant. "Running girls" is a reference both to the Pleiades and to prostitutes. "Houses of the Magicians" refers particularly to the solstices. The chant says directly that the Moon was lost to sight in the rising rays of the Sun; hence, that this was a new Moon. Hoskinson argues that "Bluebird," who "came running" with the "girls" is Venus. In other contexts, it is said that the supernatural "Bluebird" changes sex. The brilliant blue male bird is particularly prominent in June. Hoskinson maintains that these references indicate that Venus was the morning star at a new Moon at June solstice, and that the specificity of the references indicates a particular date in real time, not just generic characteristics of the "wine" ceremony. There is a further statement that the Sun was "tied" by "Grey Spider Magician" [i.e., at the Tropic of Cancer], but that Moon "rolls on" [presumably in this context to its northern standstill]. This may imply that Spider was at the center of a web and one of the outer strands caught the Sun. Hoskinson emphasizes the importance of the 251-year Venus cycle in attempting to determine the date for which the chant was created and gives a number of relevant calculations without actually specifying his preferred date. He does say that Venus usually has to be 35' or more above the horizon to be visible in that area.

Tally counts using bars and dots have been recorded from Coahuila (Murray 1986).

One of these from Presa de la Mula, Coahuila, in northeastern Mexico, has a carefully done tally count that is divided by a grid of six horizontal lines and four vertical divisions. The resulting segments correspond very well with lunations. Murray's analysis suggests a sequence of (29, 28, 29, 28, 28), which he thinks involves an error. We would suggest that, instead, the invisible new Moon at conjunction was not included in the tally. Associated depictions include spear points and geometical figures reminiscent of the Yuman area to the west. Another tally count, using dots, comes from nearby Boca de Potrerillos, Nuevo Leon. It does not seem to be lunar.

Boma Johnson has investigated and mapped a number of geoglyphs created by clearing some areas of gravel and heaping up rocks in other areas. These were created by Yuman groups, and some are still used today for ceremonies. Johnson has had the benefit of discussing these geoglyphs with members of such groups. Some of the interpretations may be slightly influenced by the fact that informants today are often well aware of modern astronomical views, but the central features agree well with a wide range of other data. The most revealing with regard to the interrelationships of astronomy and cosmology is the Black Point Ceremonial Pathway site (Johnson 1992), which was used in initiation rituals (see Figure 13.6).

The Earth and the Pleiades are both shown as circles with pits in the center. The circles could agree equally well with Hudson's idea of the cosmos as three layers of flat circles or with the Juaneno allegation of a spherical earth. The pit in the Pleiades is supposed to represent the "emergence point" through which the ancestors came from the Pleiades to Earth and is conceptually connected to the earth pit. A path identified with the Milky Way cuts across the Earth circle. Sun and Moon are slightly removed from the Earth circle.

Figure 13.6. The Black Point Ceremonial Pathway shows interrelationships between astronomy and cosmology. Drawing by Sharon Hanna, after Johnson (1992).

As a cosmic diagram, this recalls the "ground paintings" of the Ipai (a nearby Yuman tribe to the west) (Hudson 1984, p. 54). These represent related conceptions, probably much later than the creation of the Black Point Ceremonial Pathway, but with substantially less probability of modern influence in the interpretations. The Creation Mountain at Black Point may correspond to one of four directional mountains in the Ipai ground painting (see Figure 13.7).

The Milky Way dividing the cosmic circle is very similar; the Pleiades, although present, are less emphasized in the Ipai versions. Altair to the Ipai was probably Buzzard, as it was to Tipai, Kamia, and Luiseno (neighbours on three sides), and to other Yuman groups. Among the Chumash, Buzzard was the chief of the land of the dead. If a similar concept was present here, Altair may correspond to Kumas-tamho in the Black Point Ceremonial Pathway.

The calendar system of the Yuman tribes of Arizona, California, and Mexico has been studied by Spier (1955), who examined the earlier literature and collected much new information. These tribes had a calendar in which six winter months (from about October to March probably) were named for stars or asterisms. Apparently the stars are given in the order of heliacal rising, but there are inconsistencies in the data that cannot yet be reconciled or interpreted with assurance. The six summer months were lunations that in some groups had the same names as the winter months and in other groups were nameless.

Among the Maricopa, the six month names were also the names of 6 of the 18 Maricopa sibs.4 It is possible that the other 12 sibs were also named for asterisms. There are similarities to Mesoamerican 18 "month" calendars. The personal names of sib members reveal groupings of concepts that help to understand the cosmology. Thus, the xipa sib is associated with coyote, fox, eagle, rain, clouds, opuntia cactus, cholla cactus, Moon, and wild gourd. We know that Moon in this area is often identified with Coyote. The equivalent month among the Seri was Jack-Rabbit, a known lunar animal in the Southwest. Probably the equivalent Mohave month is "Month of Fornication," and Coyote is known in this area as "Fornicator." The opuntia cactus was used for making an alcoholic drink, and Moon was associated among the Pinans with another alcoholic drink. "Coyote-carrying-a-pole" is one of the month names that Spier argues refers to an asterism that was part of Scorpio. The preceding month was associated with the Hand asterism, and the following month, "Buzzard," is associated with fire, a red or yellow beetle, and the Sun. Buzzard was apparently Altair, as it was elsewhere in California. An alternative name for Altair was "Cold's Cottonwood," which well illustrates the fact that a single star may have names involving widely different concepts. "Cold's Cottonwood" may imply an opposing "Heat's Cottonwood." North of the Yuman tribes, the Utes maintained that the sky was supported on two giant cottonwoods.

The Navaho calendar (discussed by Chamberlain 1983) was probably of the same sort. A Navaho "calendar stone" gives six months, beginning with October and associated with the sun followed by six months associated with the moon (ff. O'Bryan, cited in Chamberlain 1983). Although Chamberlain points out star markers for more than six months, it is not really clear that these are month names.

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