The Sun Dagger
On top of Fajada Butte in Chaco Canyon, three large slabs of rock fell away from an upper cliff and came to rest in a vertical position. Our ancestors carved a spiral into the cliff wall behind these rocks to represent the cyclical nature of life. When light passed through the narrow space between the rocks, it projected a knife-like shape known as the “Sun Dagger” onto this spiral. At midday during the summer solstice, the Sun Dagger descended vertically through the center of the spiral. The Sun Dagger also marked the spring and fall equinoxes and the winter solstice, representing the important seasonal movements of the Earth.
Due to the settling of one of the slabs, the dagger of light no longer passes through the center of the spiral during
the summer solstice. Because of that shift, the Sun Dagger site has lost some of its precision as a solar calendar.
The seasonal changes are still important and recognized today by our Pueblo communities.