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Color and Directional Symbolism at Pueblo Bonito, Chaco Canyon

Presented by Dr. Hannah Mattson

More about the lecture

Dedicatory offerings of small colorful objects are often found in pre-Hispanic architectural contexts in the Ancestral Pueblo region of the American Southwest. These deposits are particularly numerous in kivas at the site of Pueblo Bonito, Chaco Canyon, which served as the ceremonial hub of the Chacoan regional system between the 10th and 12th centuries CE. Based on the importance of directionality and color in traditional Pueblo worldviews, archaeologists have long-speculated that the contents of these radial offerings may likewise reference significant Chacoan cosmographic elements. In this talk, Dr. Mattson will discuss the results of a recent study where she explored this idea by examining the distribution of colors and materials in kiva pilaster repositories in relation to directional quadrants, prominent landscape features, and raw material sources.

About the presenter

Hannah Mattson is a Southwestern archaeologist and an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico. She specializes in the archaeology of Chaco Canyon and the larger Ancestral Pueblo region, personal adornment and social identity, and ceramic technology. She has authored numerous articles and book chapters on items of adornment from the northern Southwest and recently published a volume titled Personal Adornment and the Construction of Identity: A Global Archaeological Perspective (2021, Oxbow Books).

Learn more about the research behind Dr. Mattson’s new book.

Learn more about Hannah Mattson in this short video about her 2019 Women in STEM Award

Free For Everyone

Our virtual lectures are a part of our Outreach and Education efforts. They are free to our Members and the General Public.  Recorded lectures are posted on YouTube and on the event page after the event occurs.

For questions about the event or how to register, please contact Susan Bowdoin ( or Sarah Webber (