Pueblo Alto (High House)

Pueblo Alto is situated at the terminus of the Great North Road.  There are actually four buildings in the Pueblo Alto Complex: Pueblo Alto, New Alto, East Ruin, and Rabbit run.  New Alto was originally two stories in places and had a large plaza that may have served as a trade center.  The elevation at Pueblo Alto (High House) is 6,440 feet (1,963 m), and provides a panoramic view of 60 miles or more in all directions.

Tsin Kletzin, Hosta Butte, and Mount Taylor are visible to the south, Huerfano Mesa, the San Juan Mountains, and La Plata Mountains can be seen to the north, the Chuska Mountains to the west, and the Jemez Mountains to the east are all within viewing and signaling range.  Ruins that appear to be relay stations have been identified atop prominent mesas, buttes, and mountains.  The use of reflective mica rocks during the day and signal fires at night would have enabled the people living in Chaco Canyon to maintain communication with the people at Chimney Rock and Mesa Verde in Colorado90 miles away.

Research by Tom Windes suggests that there may have been as few as 5 of the 85 rooms at Pueblo Alto that were used for members of the permanent population.  Yet the trash midden near Pueblo Alto contains massive amounts of broken pottery (approx. 150,000 vessels) and animal bones deposited at intermittent times.  This suggests that Pueblo Alto was used for ceremonies that included feasts and the breaking of pots.  Traditionally, the breaking of a pot is an offering.  Breaking a pot can signify a sacrifice; commemorate the beginning of a journey or the ending of an event.


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