May 30, 2007

Ancients communicated over miles

Reflecting the past:  Rangers, archeologists test out ancient messaging systemThe shard of reflected sunlight sliced through the sage-brush-covered mesa like molten silver.

"We can see you really well!" Aztec Ruins Interpretive Ranger Jackie Berens said into a cell phone. About two miles away, her fellow ranger Terry Nichols changed the angle of a full-length dressing mirror and the silver shard glinted.

From Nichols' perch, she could see a similar mirror some 61 miles away on Huerfano Mountain on Tuesday.

"It was pretty cool," she said. "(I said), Whoa! There it is!"

About 1,000 years ago, the Chacoan Anasazi inhabitants may have communicated the same way—minus the cell phone and dressing mirror.

Park rangers and archeologists at 23 Anasazi ruins scattered over 86 miles tested the theory that the ancient people passed messages between population centers. Instead of mirrors, the people would likely have used flat, shiny abalone shells or signal fires.

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