Astronomers found a surprise recently, but it triggered a prehistoric image for me. On October 10, 2012, the European Space Observatory, ALMA, released the photo of a mysterious pattern that surrounded an old star, R Sculptoris.
This spiraling material made an unexpected appearance around that star.
A thousand years ago some ancient people climbed to a rather inaccessible place and carved a large spiral into sandstone. It’s probably the image of the sun.
Unfortunately, the only relationship I can make to that ancient Anasazi design and the above photo is that they are both spirals of the sky. You won’t find anything extra-terrestrial between that star activity and the watchers of the sun here. Still it doesn’t kill our fun. Like astronomers who dedicate their lives searching for mysteries in our sky, these Chacoans also searched the skies.
Their spiral has three huge slabs of sandstone, one over nine feet high, positioned in front of the rock carving. These slabs allows a slice of sunlight to connect with the carved spiral. This is the Sun Dagger of Fajada Butte.
Did these ancient people discover an ingenious method to track the seasonal movement of the noonday sun? Studies of prehistoric sun watching sites find this unusual. Ancient makers of other sun sites use the rising or the setting sun, not the mid-day sun. Come on, this is New Mexico, land of the siesta during the heat of the day.
If you decided to climb to the top of Fajada Butte in Chaco Canyon, NM, you’d discover the brutality of it all.
You’d have to be in prime condition (see link above) and you couldn’t be afraid to confront the nasty prairie rattle snakes who lurk in the sandstone crevasses.
We use our writing to communicate, inform, educate, and entertain. Many believe the Chacoans used their writing on the sandstone cliff for survival. The sun dagger could tell them when to plant crops, or when the rains or snow might fall, or when to prepare for ceremonies or harvest. Yet, travel along their ancient ruins down the valley and you will find other sun markers and a drawing that some say is a depiction of the Crab Nebula, super nova.
How dedicated are we to what we’ve written compared to these ancient people? Would we endure almost 100 degree temperatures to climb to the top of Fajada’s rocky face, dodging ill-tempered snakes, to see what the noonday sun has written for us?
Well, I sit and write for hours, days, weeks, and months. Then I hold my breath and send my manuscript to the editors. I turn blue in the face while I wait for them to send it back. And here’s the thing: I actually pay them to tell me what’s wrong and to assign me more frustrating hours at my computer. Yep! I’m dedicated. Bring on the prairie rattlers.
What about you?