To briefly review: A thousand years ago in this remote, unspecial, spot, an otherwise ordinary group of Indians were somehow infused with the talent, desire and determination to build mega structures like the one pictured here--containing 500 plus rooms, numerous Kivas and ceremonial plazas. 12 of these grand houses were constructed in the immediate vicinity and another 15 in the outlying areas. Nowhere else in America has similar super building occurred. The obvious question is: WHAT GOT INTO THESE PEOPLE. WHY, WHY, WHY WOULD THEY DO THIS.
1. An ordinary clan of ancient Indians, following water or fleeing hostilities or seeking greener pastures, made their way to this canyon and this spot.
2. An anomaly of this spot is a super-abundance of perfectly sized building stones----1,2and 3 inch layers of sandstone---perfectly flat on two sides. Kids playing could pile up impressive stacks---and soon discovered that mud between the layers would harden and stabilize stacks---making even more impressive structures. Adults quickly grasped the possibility of easy-to-build walls for houses----and further, the bonus of houses sharing a wall -- or two--or even three----AND the bonus of houses on top of houses---thus sharing a roof. BINGO --pueblo style building is underway.
3. Density dwelling works social magic on the tribe---intensifying idea exchange--culture elaboration--and speeds creation and spread of cultural memes. (mental bits of culture--songs, tales etc)
(see Palo Solari's work with Arcology)
4. With food and water problems solved (for the moment) people turned their attention to the fun pursuits of building with these terrific stones. Human ego, being what it is, bigger and ever more impressive houses were constructed.
5. Excellence in construction began to be noticed and appreciated----triggering a FEEDBACK SPIRAL of excellence. (i.e. beautiful work---when publicly appreciated---evokes even more excellence---and appreciation--and excellence.......)
6. The occasional visitor---noting the quality and size of construction here---spread the word---and more visitors came to see---creating another FEEDBACK SPIRAL of fame--tourism--more fame etc.
Eventually the community spiraled its way to SPECTACLE.
7. Spectacle evokes a numinous effect. (Awe)---like seeing Solomon's Temple, or the pyramids or Hoover Dam. Spectacle too, feeding on awe and fame generates ever greater spectacle.
8. Architectural authority arose to shape the growing spectacle into some order.
9. Meanwhile, nearby clans are building spectacles of their own.
10. Divine guidance: Throughout the entire process people seek guidance from the Shaman. He too spirals toward ever more elaborate theology and ritual. Visitors and locals enjoy a bigger and bigger "show".
11. Commerce quickly raises its head---and another feedback loop spirals upward.
12. The various feedback loops enfold and further enhance each other. In short Chaco canyon becomes a terrific place to visit for a good time. Branson Missouri's rise to super-tourist spot is very similar. We RVers can see how spiraling has made Quartzsite, Az our "Mecca".
13. Tyranny or no tyranny? Well yes and no. Slavery? No!---- Social coercion--Yes! Theology always jerks people around---by fear and hope--so they spend energies working for the church. In Chaco, no doubt a theology arose with a governing priesthood and masses worked "voluntarily" for the deity.
14. Why did it end?---It was a social empire and It ran its course---usually 300 years is about max for them---bad weather probably precipated a downward feedback spiral and its charm died quicker than it rose.
15. What have we learned here? That lightening can strike in unlikely places---that empires--of all kinds--political--social--religious--commercial are giant feedback loops that rise--ascend--and decline.
That tiny causes can have huge effects. An abundance of flat--perfectly sized building stones---started a local building craze that swelled to a spectacle--to a monument---to a 300 year "happening".
That feedback loops--once recognized--are seen to be all around and in us---and can serve for good or ill. Social Manias--like statue building on Easter Island----Tulip mania in holland---pyramid mania in Egypt and House mania in the US ----rarely serve humanity well---though they produce impressive stuff.
That humans like to get excited and lose themselves in something bigger than themselves. It is near ecstasy to allign your energy and intent with many others---and is extremely powerful. The dilemma of mavericks and extremely independent personalities is that unless they join some sort of human surge---they miss out on all the fun.
At the psychological level--chaco suggest that tiny steps in the direction of your dreams can start an upward spiral of great satisfaction and who knows what else. My friend Boonie persuaded me to try blogging-----and ---now I have a game to play that connects me with the world.