Ron Sutcliffe

Ron Sutcliffe at Casa Rinconada

Profile: Ron Sutcliffe is a surveyor and interpretive astronomer who has studied the lunar cycles from both ethnographic and mathematical perspectives. He is an active researcher in Chaco Canyon, where his ongoing study of Casa Rinconada – a remarkable Great Kiva – has broken new ground in archaeo-astronomical interpretation. After recognition of the lunar significance of the Chimney Rock archaeological era by Malville, Ron re-established the anticipated sight lines to major lunar standstill moonrise between the twin spires of Chimney Rock from the classic Great House to the west, well in advance of moonrise in December, 2004 . His predictive tables were, and are, the key documents in understanding the relation of this important Chacoan outlier to the Moon.

presentation: “The Moon in the Ancient Southwest Landscape – A Different Perception of Time – The Moon Spiral Calendar”

abstract: Naked eye astronomy can influence both science and culture. Ancestral Puebloan observers of the sky, the stars, the moon and the sun recorded their visual world through ritual and art. One of the most frequent expressions of their world view survives as spirals in rock art and petroglyphs. This concept of spirals can be interpreted as a motif for a calendric system that touches on the relationships of the sun, moon and earth, as seen by the Ancients. The spiral motif of the Ancestral Puebloans a thousand years ago has now changed because of astronomic factors, so we must be careful to reconstruct their ancient skies when attempting interpreting their ruins and culture.

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