Offbeat New Mexico Chaco Canyon Rock Art Shows Ancient Eclipse

20:36  12 august  2017
20:36  12 august  2017 Source:   Newsweek

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It turns out that nearly 1,000 years ago our ancestors were just as keen to share news about a solar eclipse , but in the absence of smartphones or computers they used more primitive means to depict Researchers believe they have discovered a rock carving in New Mexico ’s Chaco Canyon that…

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A petroglyph of what may be a total solar eclipse in the year 1097 as recorded by the Chaco Canyon, New Mexico Pueblo people.<br /> © Provided by IBT Media A petroglyph of what may be a total solar eclipse in the year 1097 as recorded by the Chaco Canyon, New Mexico Pueblo people.
It turns out that nearly 1,000 years ago our ancestors were just as keen to share news about a solar eclipse, but in the absence of smartphones or computers they used more primitive means to depict the stunning solar event: rock art.

Researchers believe they have discovered a rock carving in New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon that represents a total eclipse that occurred more than 900 years ago. The engraving, known as a petroglyph, shows a circle with curved, intricate swirling emissions issuing from it. Around the circle, believed to depict the sun, human figures can be seen in different positions and engaged in different activities.

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An eclipse that happened 1,000 years ago may have been immortalised in petroglyphs at Chaco Canyon , New Mexico . At this time, the ancient Puebloan people lived in the region, and were creating rock art celebrating celestial events.

University of Colorado Boulder Professor J. McKim Malville has said the circle shown in the rock art represents the sun’s outer atmosphere, known as its corona, with the tangled, looped protrusions on its edges dating it to a total eclipse that occurred in the region on July 11, 1097.

Malville made the observation Wednesday to mark the upcoming total solar eclipse on August 21 that will be visible across a large swathe of the U.S.

"To me it looks like a circular feature with curved tangles and structures," Malville said. "If one looks at a drawing by a German astronomer of the 1860 total solar eclipse during high solar activity, rays and loops similar to those depicted in the Chaco petroglyph are visible."

A petroglyph of what may be a total solar eclipse in the year 1097 as recorded by the Chaco Canyon, New Mexico Pueblo people. © Provided by IBT Media A petroglyph of what may be a total solar eclipse in the year 1097 as recorded by the Chaco Canyon, New Mexico Pueblo people. Malville, who is attached to Boulder's astrophysical and planetary sciences department, and José Vaquero of the University of Extremadura in Cáceres, Spain were able to date the carving on the basis of the loops that they believed to be a coronal mass ejections (CME). These CMEs are eruptions that can blow billions of tons of plasma from the sun at several million miles per hour during active solar periods.

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Share. show ad. Ancient rock art in a New Mexico canyon reveals a total solar eclipse seen by Pueblo people over 1,000 years ago. Petroglyph in a rock at the Chaco Canyon thought to illustrate total solar eclipse .

Location: Chaco canyon , Albuquerque, New Mexico . The Chaco Canyon Sun Dagger: In 1977 Anna Sofaer, an artist , was exploring rock art in the region and came across the light patterns on the two spirals.

"It turns out the sun was in a period of very high solar activity at that time, consistent with an active corona and CMEs," the pair said in their 2014 paper on the rock art in the Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry.

The two used several sources to assess the activity of the sun around the time of the 1097 eclipse. The data they gathered included information ancient tree rings from which they could detect the activity of cosmic rays. They also used records of naked-eye observations of sunspots, which go back several thousand years in China. A third method involved looking at historical data compiled by northern Europeans on the annual number of so-called "auroral nights," when the northern lights were visible, an indication of intense solar activity.

A visualisation of the 1,000-year-old eclips recorded by the Chaco Canyon, New Mexico Pueblo people the Piedra del Sol © Provided by IBT Media A visualisation of the 1,000-year-old eclips recorded by the Chaco Canyon, New Mexico Pueblo people the Piedra del Sol The free-standing rock hosting the possible eclipse petroglyph, known as Piedra del Sol, also has a large spiral petroglyph on its east side that marks sunrise 15 to 17 days before the June solstice. A triangular shadow cast by a large rock on the horizon crosses the center of the spiral at that time. It may have been used to start a countdown to the summer solstice and related festivities.

The rock carving was first discovered in 1992 by Malville and then-Fort Lewis Professor James Judge and was carved by early Pueblo people. Chaco Canyon, a centre of Pueblo culture in the Southwest a thousand years ago, is believed by archeologists to have been populated by several thousand people and held political sway over an area twice the size of Ohio.

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This event is especially rare because it can be seen in any part of the continental U.S. The U.S. will experience a total eclipse on Monday, with the moon blocking out the sun for a period of time starting on the West Coast around 10 a.m. PDT and ending on the East Coast around 3 p.m. EDT. The last time an eclipse was visible in the continental U.S. was 1979, so it’s worth trying to capture this rare event with your camera or iPhone. The “totality” eclipse, where the sun will be entirely covered by the moon, will only happen in about a 70-mile swath across the U.S. Most people will get only a partial eclipse.

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