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Chaco Handbook: An Encyclopedia Guide (Chaco Canyon Series) Paperback – May 23, 2002

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Product Details

  • Series: Chaco Canyon Series
  • Paperback: 291 pages
  • Publisher: University of Utah Press; 1 edition (May 23, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0874807050
  • ISBN-13: 978-0874807059
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #977,733 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Robin G. Sowton on October 30, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Puebloan culture at Chaco Canyon reached its height between AD 1050 and 1120. In addition to constructing greathouses, kivas, tools and pottery, the people also had to solve the problems of living in a harsh environment. For example, they developed intricate systems of controlling water through canals, dams, gates, and gridded gardens.

This book is an excellent reference that lists subjects alphabetically, with brief decriptions (usually not more than one half to one page in length) for each entry. However, I will echo another reviewer's comment that this is not a useful book to take with you when walking among the ruins of Chaco Canyon National Park. I also did not find it as useful when approaching it as an 'introduction' to the culture. It is useful however if you're reading another book about Chaco Canyon or you're already familar with the culture and you want to look up what a Herradura is or to identify what the Rabbit Ruin is and where it's located. There are black-and-white photos and pen-and-ink drawings displayed throughout the book, and there are also maps of topographic and hydrologic features of the area.

My only disappointment is that it was touted on the back cover as 'The Beginner's Salvation' but I never got the beginner's 'big picture' when reading the book's introduction. I would've preferred an overview that addressed the subject in this sequence: reasons the Puebloans began moving and settling into the area, what did early aspects of the culture look like, what main conflicts/issues did they have to resolve along the way and how, what did later aspects of the culture look like, and what were some possible reasons why they left. Instead, I had to wade through a lot to piece this together and there are still a few pieces missing.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
Superb handbook for two reasons: it covers just about everything you could ever think of regarding the wonders and mysteries of Chaco Canyon -- from "Abandonment" to "Zuni Spotted Chert." But best, each entry is linked and cross-referenced to other entries that further explain a concept, and then, further explain THAT concept. And so on.
Example: If you look up PUEBLO BONITO, before you know it, you've learned what a GREAT HOUSE is, why they call it DOWNTOWN CHACO, how TOM WINDES used DENDROCHRONOLOGY on core samples from wood beams to identify the building's construction dates, the mystery of those Chacoan ROADS that went to OUTLIER communities -- and you haven't even taken your second sip of coffee. This makes it extremely useful for a wide range of readers, from a first time visitor, to someone doing serious research in the field.
My two favorite Chaco books are CHACO HANDBOOK (Vivian & Hilpert) and NEW LIGHT ON CHACO CANYON (Noble). Both of them get to the basic necessary facts, and the controversial theories, quickly. This handbook has lots of information in one tidy place.
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Theodore A. Rushton on July 19, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Chaco Canyon, site of one of the most remarkable civilizations in North America prior to the European invasion, has long been the subject of speculation, fantasy and intense scientific exploration and study.
The mystery of its origins may never be unraveled, which is perhaps the enduring lure of the Chaco Phenomenon. Visit the ruins of an English castle, or a coastal monastery destroyed by Vikings, and the origins and fate are readily available. At Chaco, the Great Houses built from about 850 AD to 11 AD were the highest stone structures built in the Americas until at least the 18th century.
For Navajos and New Agers, like the English of 850 AD when called on to explain Roman ruins, the structures were built by gods. The reality is more prosaic, Chaco was built by the ancestors of today's pueblo Indians. The mystery is "Why ?"
The Chaco Handbook doesn't attempt to solve the mystery. Instead, it provides a concise handbook of Chacoan studies, illustrated with more than 100 maps, drawings and photos, plus definitions of 250 of the common terms relating to more than a century of exploration and investigations. On the basis of my personal visits beginning in the 1960s, it is the best single volume introduction available to explain Chaco.
It's up-to-date, covering some of the latest original and provocative work by longtime professionals such as Thomas Windes and Steve Lekson. It also mildly debunks the sensationalism of Christy Turner who caused a brief flurry of revulsion with his suggestion it was an ancient pueblo cannibalism center.
It's a handy reference for anyone who has visited, an invaluable resource for anyone who plans to visit and a perfect introduction even for those unable to visit.
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