Chaco Canyon, NM, USA, was the center of an Ancestral Puebloan polity from approximately 850–1140 CE, and home to a dozen palatial structures known as “great houses” and scores of ritual structures called “great kivas”. It is hypothesized that the 2.5 km2
centered on the largest great house, Pueblo Bonito (i.e., “Downtown Chaco”), served as an open-air performance space for both political theater and sacred ritual. The authors used soundshed modeling tools within the Archaeoacoustics Toolbox to illustrate the extent of this performance space and the interaudibility between various locations within Downtown Chaco. Architecture placed at liminal locations may have inscribed sound in the landscape, physically marking the boundary of the open-air performance space. Finally, the implications of considering sound within political theater will be discussed.
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