The class will begin with a viewing of the Solstice Project’s documentary film The Mystery of Chaco Canyon (broadcast by PBS and narrated by Robert Redford), followed by group discussion and Q&A. This film provides an exciting scientific and highly visual exploration of the Ancestral Puebloan Ceremonial Center at Chaco Canyon (800-1150 CE) and the inhabitants’ astute knowledge of solar and lunar astronomy. During discussion, Sofaer will review the story of her discoveries, and students will explore the continuing enigmas of Chaco, especially the remarkable expanse of the Chaco-style communities throughout a region twice the size of Ireland.
Students will also delve into new theories and evidence to explain Chaco’s influence across this vast region. Recent investigations of the Solstice Project into Chacoan cosmography, including the integration of the natural landscape, astronomy, and architectural features will also be considered.