In the first half of the 11th century, the Chacoan people built numerous roads from Chaco Canyon to various outliers and from those outliers to other communities. The roads are generally not visible on the ground and have been identified mainly through aerial photography. Although many road segments have been identified from aerial photographs and confirmed on the ground, only a few of these segments have been found to connect to each other to form roads that run continuously for significant distances. The best documented examples of long roads are the Great North Road, which starts just east of Pueblo Alto and runs north to Kutz Canyon, where it stops rather abruptly at the canyon edge, just short of the Twin Angels Pueblo
. The South Road, which leaves the canyon at South Gap and runs toward (though not quite to) the outlying communities in the Red Mesa Valley to the south.
The purpose of the roads still perplex archaeologists today. Many of the roads were 30 feet wide, 60 feet in some places, did not swerve around obstacles such as cliffs or valleys. The road system was not used by wheeled vehicles, horses, or other beasts of burden as these were not available to the Ancestral Puebloans. Many of the road segments associated with outlying great houses do not seem to run continuously to Chaco Canyon or anywhere else. Instead they start at the great house and run a short distance from it, often in the direction of notable landscape features or other great houses. This suggests that at least at these outliers many road segments were intended to be symbolic connections to places of importance rather than everyday means of transportation. Another piece of evidence for a ceremonial function is the size of the roads. In a society that had neither pack animals nor wheeled vehicles it is unclear what, if any, practical need could have required roads thirty feet wide. The enormous amount of labor invested in the construction of the roads at a scale well beyond practical need suggests a higher purpose than mere transportation. Despite the strong arguments for a primarily ritual function, many archaeologists do still argue that there were at least some practical functions for the roads.
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