Crow Canyon

Researcher Who Links Greek Geometry to Ancient Pueblo Architecture to Speak at Crow Canyon

Sun Temple
Sun Temple, Mesa Verde National Park (Photo: NPS)

The archaeological sites at Mesa Verde National Park have astounded researchers and visitors alike for over a century. But a recent discovery shows the ruins, and the ancient Pueblo people who built them, are still providing surprises nearly 800 years after they were built.

According to Dr. Sherry Towers, a mathematics professor at Arizona State University, the Sun Temple site in the park was laid out with a Golden rectangle and equilateral and Pythagorean 3:4:5 triangles, among other familiar geometrical shapes commonly associated with the architects of ancient Egypt and Greece.

Towers will be giving a talk at the Crow Canyon campus on Thursday, July 20th, at 7:00 p.m. The lecture is free and open to the public, thanks to the continued generous support of Crow Canyon's program participants and donors like you.

Towers says that with basic geometric know-how and some simple tools, all the basic shapes found at the D-shaped site are easy to construct—but unlike the Greeks or Egyptians, the ancient Pueblo people had no written language or number system to aid them when they built the site, which was constructed with a relative error of less than one percent.

The research was published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

“This is what I find especially amazing. The genius of the site’s architects cannot be underestimated,” Towers told Science News. “If you asked someone today to try to reconstruct this site and achieve the same precision that they had using just a stick and a piece of cord, it’s highly unlikely they’d be able to do it, especially if they couldn’t write anything down as they were working.”

She says that the same geometric principles appear to have been used in the construction of Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

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