Chetro Ketl is one of the largest pueblos in Chaco Canyon located about one-quarter mile southeast of Pueblo Bonito. It contained over 500 rooms and 12 kivas including a great kiva within the central courtyard. In the cliffs behind the ruin are ancient stairways that lead to prehistoric roadways to Pueblo Alto and other outlying communities.
The rear wall was nearly 500 feet long and supported five stories of rooms. Along the inside of the wall are long rows of room blocks. Some of the lower rooms were filled in or used for storage, while the upper rooms, many of them terraced, were living quarters. The thick walls were made of an inner core of rubble and stones laid in adobe mortar faced with a veneer of Chacoan banded masonry. The veneer consisted of rows of larger stone blocks alternating with several rows of smaller tablet-shaped stone layers to form banded patterns which varied with each new construction period or remodeling.
The walls of Chetro Ketl are embedded with wooden vigas, or beams, one of which measured more than 26 inches thick. These beams were built into the structure for stability and roof support. They had to be carried to Chaco from distant forests by hand and prepared with stone tools. It is estimated that over 5,000 trees were cut for Chetro Ketl alone. Tree ring dating has shown that construction of the pueblo began around 945 AD with the greatest period of building between 1030 and 1090. The final phase of remodeling and addition was from 1099 to 1116 but the quality of workmanship at this time was lower and the structure was abandoned by 1120.
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