The Fajada Butte Solar Marker: A Reevaluation

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Science  14 Jun 1985:
Vol. 228, Issue 4705, pp. 1311-1313
DOI: 10.1126/science.228.4705.1311


Evaluation of the Fajada Butte solar marker in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, on the basis of its ethnographic context and usefulness for confirmatory and anticipatory solar observations indicates that the site does not function as an accurate solar calendar (accurate in the context of the historic Puebloan culture). The site most likely served as a sun shrine rather than as a calendrical observing station. The interpretation of the site as marking the northern declinations of the lunar 18.6-year cycle is not supported by the ethnographic evidence nor can the site be used to anticipate accurately the year of the standstill.