The hiatus in my blogging was the result of my trip to Utah and New Mexico.

I camped in Chaco Canyon, which is still isolated (30 miles down a corrugated dirt road and across several washes). The ruins are still impressive, and arouse in everyone the questions — why here? And why did everyone leave?

Reconstruction of Pueblo Bonito

Archæoastronomers have found strong evidence that the Anasazi (the term I still like) had a complex calendar. Not only did they calculate the solstice and equinoxes, they (unlike the Mayans) calculated the 18.6 year cycle of the lunar standstill. Each building, and the whole complex of buildings and roads that fills the San Juan basin, an area bigger than Portugal, seem to be aligned with both lunar and solar movements.

In 1977 Anna Sofaer discovered the sun dagger on Fajada Butte. At the solstice light from between two slabs forms a dagger in the center of a 19 revolution spiral, and equinox and lunar movements are also marked by movements of light on this and other spirals.

The Anasazi seemed to have reproduced on earth the order of the heavens and to have constructed the Center Place that the Hopis sought in their many wanderings.

But everyone left.

The Navajo explain the departure by the story of the Great Gambler. The Great Gambler lived in Chaco, and the Native Americans, then as now, had a fascination with gambling. The people first pledged and lost their lands to the Great Gambler, then their goods, then their wives and children, then themselves. They lost everything, and became the slaves of the Great Gambler, who built the magnificent buildings of Chaco. He then tried to extend his dominion over the sun and rain, but the Holy People formed a young man who challenged the Great Gambler, who lost, and was thrown outside the universe.

The Hopi Gambler

The people of Chaco scattered, and some joined the Navajos. They brought with them the construction of houses and pottery. But later, when the Spanish tried to subdue the Navajos, the Navajos gave up living in houses and making pottery and became complete nomads, to avoid being enslaved again.

Somehow the resemblance to the history of finance capitalism (and the stock market is a great gamble) is altogether too striking.

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