Chaco Canyon

Ancient Arrow Project: Visitors from the Sky – Anasazi – Chaco Canyon

Ancient Arrow Project

In 1972, in New Mexico, a group of hikers discovered an unusual artefact and pictographs within a canyon. An archaeologist from the University of New Mexico analyzed the artefact and searched the area where it was discovered, but found no signs that a prehistoric culture had established any site in the canyon.

It was presumed that a nomadic, Native American tribe had occasionally used the canyon as a temporary settlement and had left behind the artefacts of their presence as a consequence. However, there were two very puzzling questions. All but one of the artefacts could be dated to the 8th century AD. The exception, known as the “compass” artefact, appeared to be an unusual form of technology and was found among more typical artefacts like pottery and simple tools.

  • The compass was covered in strange hieroglyphic symbols, some of which were also found on the pottery.
  • Secondly, the pictographs that were found in the area had inexplicably appeared. They were strikingly different than any of the other native petroglyphs or rock art found in the southwest or the entire continent.
Ancient Arrow Project – Visitors from the Sky in Anasazi – Chaco Canyon
Pueblo Bonito (Spanish for beautiful town) is the largest and best-known great house in Chaco Culture National Historical Park, northern New Mexico. It was built by the Ancestral Puebloans who occupied the structure between AD 828 and 1126.

Because of these two anomalies, the artefacts and the entire project quickly became the property of the US government, or more specifically, the National Security Agency. It was decided that these artefacts might suggest a pre-historical, extraterrestrial presence on earth and that the NSA had the appropriate agenda and wherewithal to initiate a full-scale, scientific expedition to determine the nature and significance of the site.

Ancient Arrow Project, D-shaped Pueblo Bonito

The uniquely D-shaped Pueblo Bonito (Spanish for “beautiful town”) is the most famous and largest of all Chacoan great houses, hosting more than 350 ground floor rooms, three great kivas and 32 smaller kivas. At its peak, Pueblo Bonito rose some four stories along the arc of north side rooms with interior rooms from one — three stories high.

Pueblo Bonito was first occupied from the mid-850s A.D. until the early 12th century. Like all the other major structures found in Chaco Canyon, Pueblo Bonito was built with an internal geometry that aligns it to the relationships of the solar and lunar cycles. Its northern back wall is built along a perfect east-west axis. In addition, Pueblo Bonito is located near the centre of Chaco Canyon and plays a crucial role in the astronomical solar/lunar alignment of 10 other Chaco Canyon great houses.

Pueblo Bonito: Chaco Culture Technical Information

  • Architects: Unknown / Puebloan culture
  • Typology: Cultural Architecture / Vernacular Architecture
  • Location: New México, USA
  • Completion: Between AD 828 and 1126
  • Evocative topics: Vernacular, Stones, Ruins, Round plan

From 100 – 1600 AD, Anasazi (Ancestral Pueblo) people lived in Four Corners area (New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Arizona). They farmed corn, beans and squash, made cotton cloth and pottery, built settlements in canyons and cliff sites.

Around 850 AD, the Anasazi began constructing huge stone building complexes in Chaco Canyon. Chaco became the ancient centre of a culture linked by a network of roads and over seventy settlements many miles away. Today, Hopi, Navajo, and other Pueblo Native Americans trace their spiritual and cultural history to Chaco.

Chacoan people were superb engineers, builders, and skywatchers, but there’s no known written language, and the way of life in these settlements remains an archaeological mystery.

The monumental architecture and straight roads of Chaco are unique in the ancient Southwest. The building complexes, called great houses, have hundreds of rooms, a central plaza, and kivas, circular-shaped underground chambers.

With stone tools, they cut sandstone out of nearby cliffs, shaped it into blocks, made walls by sticking together millions of stones with mud mortar, covered the walls inside and out with plaster, constructing buildings up to five stories high.

NSA step in

The site was completely searched by a secret department of the NSA in 1973, but it only resulted in a few additional findings, and none of them was designated as technologies or evidence of an extraterrestrial presence. Additional pictographic symbols were found, but decoding them was a difficult and frustrating process. Experts were called in to help, but it was impossible to reach a consensus as to what the pictographs meant. As quickly as the project had risen as a priority investigation, it fell into the archives of the NSA under the code name, Ancient Arrow.

Twenty-one years later, in 1994, a series of rockslides opened up a section of the Ancient Arrow site. The canyon was in a naturally obscure section of parkland held by the state of New Mexico. After its discovery in 1972, it had been officially sanctioned off-limits to hikers and campers and was to be left in its natural state. From time-to-time, scientists – sponsored by the NSA – would visit the site hoping to uncover new evidence, but were invariably disappointed.

Shortly after the rockslide occurrence, a small team of operatives from the NSA visited Ancient Arrow canyon to do some follow-up research. They discovered the rockslide had exposed an entrance to a hidden cavern that led deep within the canyon walls. At the back of this cavern, the research team discovered a well-hidden entrance into the interior of the canyon wall or rock structure of the Ancient Arrow site.

There they found a system of tunnels and chambers that had been carved out from a solid rock. There were a total of 23 chambers, all intricately connected to an interior corridor, and each chamber held a specific wall painting, series of pictographs, written hieroglyphs, and what seemed to be dormant alien technologies.

Ancient Arrow Project – Visitors from the Sky in Anasazi – Chaco Canyon
This is part of a fantastic panel of prehistoric and historic petroglyphs that was carved by several groups - Archaic Indians, the Anasazi, Fremont, Navajo, Pueblo, and Ute.

The artefacts found at the Ancient Arrow Site

Once this entrance to the cavern was found, a report was immediately filed with the Director responsible for the Ancient Arrow project. The project was then formally brought under the jurisdiction of the Advanced Contact Intelligence Organization (ACIO), which organized an interdisciplinary research team to assess the exact nature of the site and attempt to discover additional artefacts or evidence of extraterrestrial visitation. The artefacts found at the Ancient Arrow site were virtually incomprehensible to the research team. There were many mysteries.

  • Why would an advanced culture leave their artefacts in such a precise and seemingly ordered manner?
  • What was the message they were trying to leave behind?
  • What were their technologies and why did they leave them behind?
  • Did the creators of this site intermingle with the native tribes or remain an isolated culture?
  • Who were they and why were they here in the 8th century?
  • Were they planning to return?

These were only some of the mysteries that challenged the research team.

Ceremonial role

The Chaco great houses found along a 9-mile (14 km) belt of the canyon floor are astronomically aligned. Some are positioned with the 18.6-year cycle of the maximum and minimum moonrise and moonset, while others were set up cardinally. Archaeologist thinks that many of the great houses served as temples with people throughout the region making annual pilgrimages to the Chaco kivas for ceremonial activities.

Chetro Ketl, shown here, contains some 500 rooms, and a Great Kiva, also found here, illustrates how the great houses of Chaco Canyon served during this time as the spiritual, administrative and economic capital of the American Southwest. The many spectacular great houses found along Chaco Canyon remain a modern-day testament to the fact that the Chaco people were very skilled masons.

Their pueblos were built in sections over hundreds of years, and archaeological architects have identified seven evolving styles. The vast majority of the great houses were built with slabs of sandstone rocks, specifically quarried and preciously stacked as if the Chacoans were following some magnificent ancient blueprint.

Ancient Arrow Project – Visitors from the Sky in Anasazi – Chaco Canyon
Pueblo Bonito, as seen from the rim of Chaco Canyon, in Chaco Culture National Historical Park, New Mexico

Restoration, cataloguing, and analysis of Chaco Site

Throughout the seven months of restoration, cataloguing, and analysis, the Ancient Arrow project was a complete enigma. More of the energy went into the safe preservation of the artefacts, rather than attempting to solve the puzzle of their existence, though speculations were a topic of every conversation. Gradually, a hypothesis was structured by the research team that an extraterrestrial culture established an earth colony in the 8th century and isolated itself within the Ancient Arrow canyon.

They brought with them a very precise mission to leave behind a massive “time capsule” that would prove to be discovered in the late 20th century. While the exact nature of the time capsule was unclear to the research team, it seemed probable that it was a cultural exchange of some kind and had no invasive intent to earth or its people.

It took a team of researchers nearly two years after the restoration was completed to decipher a partial meaning of the chamber artefacts. The 23 separate chambers seemed to be linked together to form some specific message or purposeful mission. In the 23rd and final chamber, they recovered a small optical disc that was presumed to hold digital information that could be the key to deciphering the artefacts. Scientists eagerly analyzed the disc, but they could not figure out how to access its content.

Visitors from the Sky in Anasazi – Chaco Canyon
Pueblo Bonito Plans, The archeologist Mary Metcalf estimates that 805,000 man-hours were required to build Pueblo Bonito’s main structure
ACIO computers

The ACIO’s finest computer experts were called in to try and unlock the encoded disc but to no avail. Several more months were spent trying every conceivable method to access the contents of the disc, but nothing worked. The Ancient Arrow project, for the first time in nearly a year, had hit a dead-end and funding for the project was rapidly weaned by the ACIO.

After two more months of unsuccessful efforts, it was decided that the technology to access the disc was simply not available. The optical disc and all of the artefacts and findings would be carefully placed in secure storage until the technologies were available to unlock the disc and harvest its content. It was presumed that the disc held star charts, translation indexes, glossaries, and all the answers to the various mysteries of its creators and, perhaps more importantly, their intentions for the earth.

Sumerian Connection

One day, late in the summer of 1996, one of the scientists (a linguistics expert) had an insight into how to unlock the optical disc by reducing the symbols of the wall paintings to their closest facsimile found in an ancient Sumerian text. While the Sumerian language is extinct, it was sufficiently comprehensible to this scientist that he was able to decode the symbols of the paintings, and, placing the 23 words in the same order as the Ancient Arrow chambers, he was able to finally unlock the optical disc.

The connection between the Sumerian language and the time capsule was the breakthrough the ACIO team had been waiting for. A simple set of 23 words elicited over 8,000 pages of data from the optical disc. Unfortunately, the data was incomprehensible because there was no character set in the computer that could emulate the hieroglyphics and unusual symbols of the language. Thus, a translation index needed to be developed, which took an additional six months.

Finally, once a translation index was programmed into the computer, the data, while it could be printed out or viewed on the monitor in its hieroglyphic form, still required translation to English. And this translation process was extremely tedious and could not be facilitated through computers, owing to the subtlety of the language and its intricate connection to the wall paintings and pictographic representations elsewhere within the Ancient Arrow site.

As partial translations began to be developed, it was determined that even within the optical disc there was a segmentation of the data into 23 units. Each unit appeared to correspond to a specific chamber. As the first two chambers began to be translated, it was further shown that each unit contained philosophical and scientific papers, poetry, music, and an introduction to the culture and identity of its creators.

The creators of the time capsule referred to themselves as WingMakers. They represented a future version of humanity who lived some 750 years in our future. They claimed to be culture bearers or ones that bring the seeds of art, science, and philosophy to humanity. They had left behind a total of seven-time capsules in various parts of the world to be discovered according to a well-orchestrated plan. Their apparent goal was to help the next several generations of humans develop a global culture; a unified system of philosophy, science, and art.

Ancient Arrow Project: The access code

In early 1997, the ACIO scientist who had originally discovered the access code for the optical disc became strangely sympathetic with the WingMakers’ mission. He was convinced that the ACIO would never share the discovery with the public, and he was certain that it was too significant to withhold.

He also claimed that he was in communication with the WingMakers and that they were watching the ACIO’s progress and would, at the appropriate time, make the time capsule and its contents available to the public.

This assertion troubled the ACIO and particularly the Ancient Arrow project director, who eventually recommended a leave of absence for the scientist and was summarily dispatched from the project. The scientist was afraid that his memories would be tampered with or destroyed altogether, and so he defected from the ACIO, quite literally the first to ever do so.

Ancient Arrow Project – Visitors from the Sky in Anasazi – Chaco Canyon
Chaco Culture National Historical located in northwestern New Mexico, between Albuquerque and Farmington, in a remote canyon cut by the Chaco Wash.

Cosmic connection

Archaeologist and astronomers both agree that Chaco Canyon just might be the greatest example of an archaeoastronomy site found anywhere in the world. The scientific knowledge and mathematics needed to accurately position and then build each of their great pueblos aligned with the cosmos would take generations of astronomical observations. Some suggest the mathematics for such construction came from trade and influences of the Mayan people of the Yucatan.

Whatever the origin, the ancient people of Chaco were intelligent and creative people. Today, the Chaco Observatory continues the centuries-long tradition of watching the nighttime sky started by the ancient Chacoans. This photo, of the famous Horsehead Nebula, was taken by one of the telescopes working at the Chaco Observatory.

Visitors from the Sky in Anasazi – Chaco Canyon
The Anasazi Sun Dagger (Image credit: Tulane University)

Impressive archaeoastronomy at Ancient Arrow Project

At the 480-foot (146 m) summit of Fajada Butte is found one of Chaco Canyon’s most impressive archaeoastronomy sites. Here, the ancient Chacoans perfectly aligned three large slabs of sandstone for specific astronomically significant days, like the seasonal equinoxes and solstices.

On these days, a narrow shaft of light falls upon two, spiral petroglyphs. This light, shown here and known as the Chaco Sun Dagger, also tracks an 18 1/2-year lunar cycle. Such an astronomical site is found nowhere else among North American Indian cultures. But, such solar/lunar sites were once common to the Toltec and Mayan people of central and southern Mexico.

For many archaeologists, the Chaco Sun Dagger, along with the copper bells, mother-of-pearl and macaw feathers found among Chaco ruins, confirms the theory that Chaco Canyon was once the terminus of the great Toltec trade route.

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