Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Remote Sensing of Chaco Roads Revisited: Lidar Documentation of the Great North Road, Pueblo Alto Landscape, and Aztec Airport Mesa Road

  • Richard A. Friedman (a1) (a2), Anna Sofaer (a3) and Robert S. Weiner (a4)

Abstract

This paper reports on the first and highly effective use of Light Detection and Ranging (lidar) technology to document Chaco roads, monumental linear surface constructions of the precolumbian culture that occupied the Four Corners region of the American Southwest between approximately AD 600 and 1300. Analysis of aerial photographs supplemented by ground survey has been the traditional methodology employed to identify Chaco roads, but their traces have become increasingly subtle and difficult to detect in recent years due to the impacts of natural weathering, erosion, and land development. Roads that were easily visible in aerial photography and on the ground in the 1980s are now virtually invisible, underscoring the need for new, cutting-edge techniques to detect and document them. Using three case studies of the Aztec Airport Mesa Road, the Great North Road, and the Pueblo Alto Landscape, we demonstrate lidar's unprecedented ability to document known Chaco roads, discover previously undetected road segments, and produce a precise quantitative record of these rapidly vanishing features.

Este trabajo informa sobre el primer y altamente eficaz uso de la tecnología lídar para documentar los caminos del Chaco, construcciones lineales monumentales de la cultura precolombina que ocupó la región Four Corners del sudoeste norteamericano entre aproximadamente 600 y 1300 dC. Las metodologías tradicionalmente utilizadas para identificar los caminos del Chaco son el análisis de fotografías aéreas en combinación con la prospección de superficie, pero las huellas de los caminos se han vuelto muy sutiles y difíciles de detectar en los últimos años debido a los impactos de la erosión natural y del desarrollo de la tierra. Caminos que eran fácilmente visibles en fotografías aéreas y en el suelo en la década de 1980 son ahora prácticamente invisibles, lo que subraya la necesidad de utilizar nuevas técnicas para detectar y documentarlos. Utilizando tres estudios de caso—Aztec Airport Mesa Road, Great North Road y Pueblo Alto Landscape—demostramos la capacidad sin precedentes de la tecnología lídar para documentar caminos conocidos, descubrir segmentos previamente no detectados y producir un registro cuantitativo preciso de estas construcciones que están desapareciendo rápidamente.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Remote Sensing of Chaco Roads Revisited
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Remote Sensing of Chaco Roads Revisited
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Remote Sensing of Chaco Roads Revisited
      Available formats
      ×

Copyright

Corresponding author

(robweiner8@gmail.com, corresponding author)

References

Hide All
Betancourt, Julio L., Dean, Jeffrey S., and Hull, Herbert M. 1986 Prehistoric Long-Distance Transport of Construction Beams, Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. American Antiquity 51:370375.
Chase, Arlen F., Chase, Diane Z., Weishampel, John F., Drake, Jason B., Shrestha, Ramesh L., Slatton, K. Clint, Awe, Jaime J., and Carter, William E. 2011 Airborne LiDAR, Archaeology, and the Ancient Maya Landscape at Caracol, Belize. Journal of Archaeological Science 38 (2):387398.
Chase, Arlen F., Reese-Taylor, Kathryn, Fernandez-Diaz, Juan C., and Chase, Diane Z. 2016 Progression and Issues in the Mesoamerican Geospatial Revolution: An Introduction. Advances in Archaeological Practice 4 (3):219231.
Clark, Aaron, and Fritschle, Joy A. 2011 A GIS Analysis of the Pre-Columbian Chaco Landscape: Applying New Tools to Old Problems. The Pennsylvania Geographer 49 (2):101116.
Ebert, James L., and Hitchcock, Robert K. 1980 Locational Modeling in the Analysis of the Prehistoric Roadway System at and around Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. In Cultural Resources Remote Sensing, edited by Lyons, Thomas R. and Mathien, F. Joan, pp. 169207. National Park Service, Washington, DC.
Evans, Damian 2016 Airborne Laser Scanning as a Method for Exploring Long-Term Socio-Ecological Dynamics in Cambodia. Journal of Archaeological Science 74:164175.
Fowler, Andrew P., and Stein, John R. 1992 The Anasazi Great House in Space, Time, and Paradigm. Anasazi Regional Organization and the Chaco System, edited by Doyel, David, pp. 101122. Maxwell Museum of Anthropology Anthropological Papers 5. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.
Friedman, Richard, Ford, Dabney, and Stein, John R. 1999 A Map of Padilla Well Great House Landscape. Document on file at Chaco Culture National Historic Park, Nageezi, New Mexico.
Hastings, Homer F. 1960 Ancient Landmark Faces Extinction. El Palacio 67 (2):72.
Holsinger, S. H. 1901 Report on Pre-Historic Ruins of Chaco Canyon, NM. Called for by G.L.O. letter “P”, J.S.P. Dec. 8, 1900. Manuscript on file, National Archives, Washington, DC.
Hurst, Winston B., and Till, Jonathan D. 2009 A Brief Survey of Great Houses and Related Features in Southeastern Utah. In Chaco and After in the Northern San Juan: Excavations at the Bluff Great House, edited by Cameron, Catherine M., pp. 4480. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.
Janes, Stephen D. 2005 Geomorphology, Geology, and Hydrology of the Standing Rock Great House Community. Kiva 71 (1):3755.
Judge, W. James 1989 Chaco Canyon—San Juan Basin. In Dynamics of Southwest Prehistory, edited by Cordell, Linda S. and Gumerman, George J., pp. 209261. Smithsonian Institute Press, Washington, DC.
Judge, W. James, Toll, H. Colcott, Gillespie, William B., and Lekson, Stephen H. 1981 Tenth Century Developments in Chaco Canyon. In Collected Papers in Honor of Erik Kellerman Reed, edited by Schroeder, A. H., pp. 6598. Papers of the Archaeological Society of New Mexico No. 6, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Kantner, John W. 1997 Ancient Roads, Modern Mapping: Evaluating Chaco Roadways Using GIS Technology. Expedition 39 (3):4962.
Kincaid, Chris (editor) 1983 Chaco Roads Project, Phase 1: A Reappraisal of Prehistoric Roads in the San Juan Basin. Bureau of Land Management, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Lekson, Stephen H. 2006 Chaco Matters: An Introduction. In The Archaeology of Chaco Canyon: An Eleventh-Century Pueblo Regional Center, edited by Lekson, Stephen H., 344. School for Advanced Research Press, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Liebmann, Matthew J., Farella, Joshua, Roos, Christopher I., Stack, Adam, Martini, Sarah, and Swetnam, Thomas W. 2016 Native American Depopulation, Reforestation, and Fire Regimes in the Southwest United States, 1492–1900 CE. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113 (6):E696E704.
Lyons, Thomas R., and Hitchcock, Robert K. 1977 Remote Sensing Interpretation of an Anasazi Land Route System. In Aerial Remote Sensing Techniques in Archaeology, edited by Lyons, Thomas R. and Hitchcock, Robert K., pp. 111134. Reports of the Chaco Center No. 2. University of New Mexico and National Park Service, Albuquerque.
Marshall, Michael P. 1997 The Chacoan Roads: A Cosmological Interpretation. In Anasazi Architecture and American Design, edited by Morrow, Baker H. and Price, V.B., pp. 6274. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.
Marshall, Michael P., and Roney, John R. 2012 Solstice Project South Road Survey. Manuscript on file, Solstice Project, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Marshall, Michael P., and Sofaer, Anna P. 1988 Solstice Project Archaeological Investigations in the Chaco District 1984 and 1985: The Technical Report. Manuscript on file, Laboratory of Anthropology, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Morrison, C.C. 1876 Executive and Descriptive Report of Lieutenant C.C. Morrison, Sixth Cavalry, on the Operations of Party No. 2, Colorado Section, Field Season of 1875 Appendix JJ to Annual Report of the Chief of Engineers for 1876, Geographical Surveys West of the 100th Meridian, pp. 356367. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.
Nials, Fred L. 1983 Physical Characteristics of Chacoan Roads. In Chaco Roads Project, Phase 1: A Reappraisal of Prehistoric Roads in the San Juan Basin, edited by Kincaid, Chris, pp. 6-16-51. Bureau of Land Management, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Nials, Fred L., Stein, John R., and Roney, John R. 1987 Chacoan Roads in the Southern Periphery: Results of Phase II of the BLM Chaco Roads Project. Bureau of Land Management, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Obenauf, Margaret S. 1980 The Chaco Roadway System. Unpublished Master's thesis, Department of Anthropology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.
Obenauf, Margaret S. 1983 Evaluation of Aerial Photography. In Chaco Roads Project, Phase 1: A Reappraisal of Prehistoric Roads in the San Juan Basin, edited by Kincaid, Chris, pp. 4-1–4-21.Bureau of Land Management, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Obenauf, Margaret S. 1991 Photointerpretation of Chacoan roads. In Ancient Road Networks and Settlement Hierarchies in the New World, edited by Trombold, Charles D., pp. 3441. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Opitz, Rachel S., Ryzewski, Krysta, Cherry, John F., and Moloney, Brenna 2015 Using Airborne LiDAR Survey to Explore Historic-era Archaeological Landscapes of Monserrat in the Eastern Caribbean. Journal of Field Archaeology 40 (5):523541.
Ortiz, Alfonso 1969 The Tewa World: Space, Time, Being, and Becoming in Pueblo Society. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Powers, Robert P., Gillespie, William B., and Lekson, Stephen H. 1983 The Outlier Survey: A Regional View of Settlement in the San Juan Basin. Reports of the Chaco Center No. 3. National Park Service, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Roney, John R. 1992 Prehistoric Roads and Regional Integration in the Chacoan System. In Anasazi Regional Organization and the Chaco System, edited by Doyel, David E., pp.123132. Anthropological Papers No. 5. Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Ruppé, Trish, Stein, John R., Friedman, Richard, and Blackhorse, Taft 2001 Chacoan Roads on the Eastern Chuska Slope. Paper presented at 66th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, New Orleans, Louisiana.
Sever, Thomas L., and Wagner, David W. 1991 Analysis of Prehistoric Roadways in Chaco Canyon Using Remotely Sensed Digital Data. In Ancient Road Networks and Settlement Hierarchies in the New World, edited by Trombold, Charles D., pp. 4252. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Sofaer, Anna P. (director) 1999 The Mystery of Chaco Canyon. Documentary film. Bullfrog Films, Oley, Pennsylvania.
Sofaer, Anna, Marshall, Michael P., and Sinclair, Rolf M. 1989 The Great North Road: A Cosmographic Expression of the Chaco Culture of New Mexico. In World Archaeoastronomy, edited by Aveni, Anthony F., pp. 365376. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Stein, John R. 1983 Road Corridor Descriptions. In Chaco Roads Project, Phase 1: A Reappraisal of Prehistoric Roads in the San Juan Basin, edited by Kincaid, Chris, pp. 8–18–15. Bureau of Land Management, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Stein, John R., and Lekson, Stephen H. 1992 Anasazi Ritual Landscapes. In Anasazi Regional Organization and the Chaco System, edited by Doyel, David, pp. 87100. Maxwell Museum of Anthropology Anthropological Papers 5. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.
Toll, H. Wolcott 2001 Making and Breaking Pots in the Chaco World. American Antiquity 66:5678.
Van Dyke, Ruth M. 2003 Memory and the Construction of Chacoan Society. In Archaeologies of Memory, edited by Van Dyke, Ruth M. and Alcock, Susan E., pp. 180200. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford.
Van Dyke, Ruth M. 2007 The Chaco Experience: Landscape and Ideology at the Center Place. School of American Research Press, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Vivian, R. Gwinn 1983 Identifying and Interpreting Chaco Roads: An Historical Perspective. In Chaco Roads Project, Phase 1: A Reappraisal of Prehistoric Roads in the San Juan Basin, edited by Kincaid, Chris, pp. 3–13–18. Bureau of Land Management, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Vivian, R. Gwinn 1990 The Chacoan Prehistory of the San Juan Basin. Academic Press, New York and San Diego.
Vivian, R. Gwinn 1997a Chaco Roads: Morphology. Kiva 63 (1):734.
Vivian, R. Gwinn 1997b Chaco Roads: Function. Kiva 63 (1):3567.
Wadleigh, F. A. 1916 Ancient Road Near Aztec, N.M. El Palacio 3 (4):52.
Walter, Paul A. F. 1916 The Cities that Died of Fear. El Palacio 3 (4):1373.
Weinig, Donald L. 2016 Construction Timber Transport to Chaco Canyon: Prehistoric Rolling Roads? Kiva 83:120.
White, Leslie A. 1942 The Pueblo of Santa Ana, New Mexico. Memoirs of the American Anthropological Association 60. American Anthropological Association, Menasha, Wisconsin.
White, Leslie A. 1960 The World of the Keresan Pueblo Indians. In Culture in History: Essays in Honor of Paul Radin, edited by Diamond, Stanley, pp. 5364. Columbia University Press, New York.
Wills, W. H., and Dorshow, Wetherbee Bryan 2012 Agriculture and Community in Chaco Canyon: Revisiting Pueblo Alto. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 31:138–55.
Windes, Thomas C., and Ford, Dabney 1996 The Chaco Wood Project: The Chronometric Reappraisal of Pueblo Bonito. American Antiquity 61:295310.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO
Type Description Title
WORD
Supplementary materials

Friedman et al supplementary material
Friedman et al supplementary material 1

 Word (12 KB)
12 KB
UNKNOWN
Supplementary materials

Friedman et al supplementary material
Friedman et al supplementary material 2

 Unknown (151 KB)
151 KB
UNKNOWN
Supplementary materials

Friedman et al supplementary material
Friedman et al supplementary material 3

 Unknown (311 KB)
311 KB

Remote Sensing of Chaco Roads Revisited: Lidar Documentation of the Great North Road, Pueblo Alto Landscape, and Aztec Airport Mesa Road

  • Richard A. Friedman (a1) (a2), Anna Sofaer (a3) and Robert S. Weiner (a4)

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.