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The Solstice Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to the study of the rich astronomical heritage of the ancient Chaco culture of the American Southwest. Founded in 1978 by Anna Sofaer, initial efforts focused on the study, documentation and preservation of the Sun Dagger site, a remarkable celestial calendar of the ancestral Pueblo Indians. Subsequent Solstice Project research and films have revealed that the Chaco culture's ceremonial architecture was built to align with the cycles of the sun and moon, and that the elaborately engineered Chaco Great North Road was constructed to commemorate celestial north. Our research continues to enrich studies of archaeology, archaeoastronomy, anthropology and Native American cultures

View a Demonstration of the Sun Dagger Model

The Solstice Project's LiDAR Study Reveals Chaco Canyon's Great North Road published in American Archeology

What We’re Doing!

The Possible Why Behind Chaco Canyon
New Mexico’s PBS channel, KNME, will air an eight-minute short on Chaco Canyon archaeoastronomy this Saturday 2 December, at 4:00 PM on Channel 5.1, highlighting our recent work. It will air again the following Friday 8 December, at 8:00 PM on Channel 9.1.
This piece explores our exciting new finding that Chaco Canyon itself is topographically aligned to the moon, perhaps inspiring the extensive lunar commemorations of the buildings and light markings.
Watch a preview here of Anna Sofaer discussing a why behind Chaco Canyon!

Open Comments Invited on New BLM Leases Still Closer to Chaco Canyon
The Farmington BLM Office announced an open comment period on 25 proposed gas and oil leases in Northwest New Mexico, including eight parcels comprising 1,850 acres within 20 miles of Chaco Cultural National Historical Park. At least one of the parcels is immediately adjacent to the 10-mile buffer around the park, with several more within a few miles. – Durango Telegraph

U.S. House Proposal Would Unravel the Antiquities Act:
Learn the details so you can comment to your Congressional delegation

Archaeologists: More Protections Needed for Chaco Region
Over 30 Newspapers carry this Associated Press story to protect Chaco from fossil fuel exploitation and damages, papers including The Washington Post, The New York Times, the Denver Post, The Seattle Times, and the Albuquerque Journal and Santa Fe New Mexican. Anna Sofaer, president of the nonprofit Solstice Project, said people who don't understand Chaco see it as sort of a high desert wasteland that can offer only oil, gas, coal and uranium. "I think it's our obligation as people who've been working with Chaco for decades to bring out to the public and to the people who affect policy the great value of going back and connecting with the people who were so connected with their natural world," she said. Read the article here in the Santa Fe New Mexican

Chaco Canyon: Saving its Past from the Present for our Future
A Presentation by the Solstice Project at the Santa Fe Indian School Convocation Friday 18 August 2017 9:00 AM
Anna Sofaer and Rob Weiner presented the Solstice Project's recent research and efforts to preserve the cultural sites of the Chaco people. We enjoyed an interactive engagement with audience members, especially in the presentation of the computer modeling of the Sun Dagger site by Daniel Pedro and the 3D models of the buildings by Joe Dean. Hosted by the Director of Planning and Evaluation, Patricia Sandoval.

Americas Archaeoastronomy Seminar: The Perception of Time, Space, and Territory: Ritual Landscapes and Astronomy in the Americas
Anna Sofaer and Robert Weiner presented new Solstice Project research at a seminar on archaeoastronomy of Mesoamerica, Chaco Canyon, and the Southern Andes, in Mexico City, May 8-12, 2017, hosted by Dr. Johanna Broda of the Institute of Historical Investigations, UNAM.

Solstice Project Presents Research in Mexico City!
The National Autonomous University of Mexico’s Institute of Historical Investigations hosted Anna Sofaer presenting The Mystery of Chaco Canyon in its Spanish language debut, at The Conception of Time and Space in the Americas Seminar, Monday, May 8, 2017

Solstice Project's Work Highlighted in Recent Pasatiempo Issue
Read it here (including the article links in the left column of the page)!

Solstice Project Published in the Santa Fe New Mexican, Tuesday, February 14, 2017
“Why Are We Sacrificing Chaco?” by Anna Sofaer, Brian Vallo, Kirby Gchachu, and Robert Weiner

Click here for PDF

We are teaching a two session class titled
“Archaeology, Astronomy, and Cosmography of the Chaco Culture” through the RENESAN Institute for Lifelong Learning in Santa Fe, 1:00-3:00 PM, on February 13 and 20

Anna and Rob will be giving a public talk, introduced by Paul Pino, Lieutenant Governor of Laguna Pueblo 2016
at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science in Albuquerque, on February 17 from 7:00-8:30 PM

Solstice Project Annual Letter 2016
With our latest news

Lecture with Anna Sofaer and Robert Weiner
“The Sun, the Moon and Chaco Canyon: Recent Findings by the Solstice Project”
Introduction by Brian Vallo (Acoma)
Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Santa Fe, NM
Saturday October 1, 2016, 2:00 pm to 4:pm (see also the interactive Sun Dagger Explorer computer model at this event)

School for Advanced Research (SAR) Field Trip: Archaeoastronomy of Chaco Canyon Friday, October 14–Sunday, October 16, 2016, Anna Sofaer will lead a group on a special tour of the major ruins of Chaco Canyon.

Anthropologist Timothy Pauketat of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign publishes appreciation for the Solstice Project’s contributions to archaeoastronomy and Southwestern archaeology. Read an excerpt from his “Theoretical Stars in Alignment” here, in press for the Journal of Skyscape Archaeology this year.

Rob Weiner, Solstice Project Research Associate, presented at the Pecos Conference August 5 – 7, 2016, his Cordell/Powers Prize winning paper:“Gambling at the Center Place: Archeological, Oral Traditional, and Ethnographic Evidence for the Importance of Gambling in the Chaco World”
For a video presentation of the paper, watch here.

Solstice Project colleague, Robert Weiner's paper on exotic imports in Chaco Canyon now in print! A major breakthrough in understanding Chaco's dynamic relationship with imported Mesoamerican objects.Read "A Sensory Approach to Exotica, Ritual Practice, and Cosmology at Chaco Canyon" in the Journal Kiva here!

Anthropologist Timothy Pauketat of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign publishes appreciation for the Solstice Project’s contributions to archaeoastronomy and Southwestern archaeology.Read an excerpt from his “Theoretical Stars in Alignment” here, in press for the Journal of Skyscape Archaeology this year.

The Solstice Project’s exciting new findings were presented by the National Geodetic Survey of NOAA and the Solstice Project, at The Science of Time conference, Harvard University, June 5 to 9, 2016. View the completed poster, the poster abstract, and the conference website: Ancient Timekeepers of Chaco: An Investigation into Possible Lunar Alignments of Prehistoric Shrines by William Stone, Anna Sofaer and Robert Weiner

27-28 March, 2016, Solstice Project hosted“The Worlds of Cahokia and Chaco: Parallels of Cosmograhic Expanse and Power” Seminar with Timothy Pauketat, PhD, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and Chaco archaeologists.

The recently late Rina Swentzell, of Santa Clara Pueblo, and Anna Sofaer reflect on the beauty
and poetic power of Pueblo Bonito. See special KNME (PBS) video above, on this page

Chaco Roads research using LiDAR, by Solstice Project, featured in textbook, Archaeology,
by Robert L. Kelly and David Hurst Thomas
By Rich Friedman and Anna Sofaer, see it here

The Mystery of Chaco Canyon presented by Anna Sofaer at Brown University
Thursday, April 14, 2016 5:30pm - 7:00pm

Solstice Project Annual Letter 2015
With our latest news

LUNAR ECLIPSE at Chimney Rock and Pueblo Bonito
September 27, 2015

Pipeleine Endangers Chaco's Ancient Heritage
See Solstice Project's new 4 mins alert for Chaco's protection

Robert Redford speaks out for Chaco:
Letter to the U.S. Department of the Interior to deny Saddle Butte Limited's permit for the Pinion Pipeline

Solstice Project Annual Letter 2014
More information on Fracking, as well as progress on the new film!

Magnificent photographs of Chaco in TREND magazine:
Article shows astronomical markings and majestic architecture, describes Solstice Project's work

Fracking Threatens Chaco: a Sacred American Heritage
4 minute video showing the dangers of expanding fracking in the sacred landscape of Chaco archaeology

Updated letter to Secretary Jewell
October 2014

Oblique Views
Presentation by Adriel Heisey, superb aerial photographer/videographer, partner of the Solstice Project for three decades Intriguing new exhibit, juxtaposing modern photos with Lindbergh’s Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe. Sunday, 25 October 2015, and runs through 25 May, 2016

Save Chaco’s Roads!
Archaeologist John Roney and Anna Sofaer recently developed an "Urgent Proposal to Record Chaco’s Prehistoric Roads" to submit to BLM in its current “scoping period.” Support this Proposal with your comments!

Written on the Landscape: Mysteries Beyond Chaco Canyon
The Solstice Project is now producing a new one hour documentary for PBS

The Mystery of Chaco Canyon
Narrated by Robert Redford. It continues to be broadcast across the country. Franz Joachim, the CEO of PBS of New Mexico: "The average Prime Time rating was 2.8. These are the kinds of numbers we expect with Nova, Nature and Masterpiece Theatre."

Solstice Project Annual Letter 2013
More information on our new film

The Solstice Project's LiDAR Study
Chaco Canyon's Great North Road revealed by the Solstice Project, published in American Archaeology

Greater Chaco Landscape in the 2011 List of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places  
Announced by The National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Solstice Project

National Trust for Historic Preservation supports the Solstice Project's LiDAR Documentation
Chaco's Great North Road and related video productions

Museum Installation of the Sun Dagger Explorer
The Solstice Project's interactive computer model of The Sun Dagger of Chaco Canyon opened May 15, 2009, The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science

The Sun Dagger Explorer model wins
MPMA 2009 Publication Design and Technology Competition, multimedia category

Sun and Moon in Sacred Geometries, Seminar at Commonweal, April 20, 2013
New Insights into the Chaco and Maya Cultures by Anna Sofaer and Christopher Powell

May 15, 2011 at the Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores, CO.
New Insights into Chaco Roads with New Technology

Talks at Southwest Seminars on January 3, 2011
Rich Friedman: The Chacoan Great North "Road" LiDAR Project Anna Sofaer: Ancient Chacoan Roads: New Aerial Technology Provides New Insights

The Great North Road
A Solstice Project symposium in Farmington, NM on Chaco Roads and our new research in progress

Chimney Rock
Chacoan site of spectacular lunar alignment was designated a National Monument

Learn about Protecting Chaco, a World Heritage Site.
These organizations are valuable resources.

All material on this site is © 2016 The Solstice Project