As early as the twelfth century A.D., the settlements of Chaco Canyon in New Mexico in the American Southwest were notable for their “great houses,” massive stone buildings that contain hundreds of rooms and often stand three or four stories high. Archaeologists have been trying to determine how the buildings were used. While there is still no universally agreed upon explanation, there are three competing theories.
One theory holds that the Chaco structures were purely residential, with each housing hundreds of people. Supporters of this theory have interpreted Chaco great houses as earlier versions of the architecture seen in more recent Southwest societies. In particular, the Chaco houses appear strikingly similar to the large, well-known “apartment buildings” at Taos, New Mexico, in which many people have been living for centuries.
A second theory contends that the Chaco structures were usedto store food supplies. One of the main crops of the Chaco people was grain maize, which could be stored for long periods of time without spoiling and could serve as a long-lasting supply of food. The supplies of maize had to be stored somewhere, and the size of the great houses would make them very suitable for the purpose.
A third theory proposes that houses were used as ceremonial centers. Close to one house, called Pueblo Alto, archaeologists identified an enormous mound formed by a pile of old material. Excavations of the mound revealed deposits containing a surprisingly large number of broken pots. This finding has been interpreted as evidence that people gathered at Pueblo Alto for special ceremonies. At the ceremonies, they ate festive meals and then discarded the pots in which the meals had been prepared or served. Such ceremonies have been documented for other Native American cultures.
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The reading and the lecture provide a heated debate surrounding the origin of the Chaco structure, which is usually mentioned as “great houses”. While the reading brings up three primary explanation for the purpose of these structures, the lecture disagrees with that perspective, saying that these assumption lacks of solid evidences.
First of all, the reading manifests that the Chaco structures may serve purely as residential accommodation. In fact, the reading drives an analogy between Chaco structures and those houses seen in recent Southwest societies. Moreover, there is mutual characteristics which both Chaco houses and and famous apartments buildings at Taos, Mexico both shares. As a matter of fact, those building at Taos is well known for its purpose as an accommodation for many people throughout centuries, which intensifies the certainty of the reading’s assumption. However, the lecture opposes to this idea, stating that the inner structure of the Chaco houses reveals a different story. According to results of current examination, it has been recorded that there are only a few fire places in these structure. In fact, fire places play an pivotal role in human living. Therefore, the fact that hundred of people could only survive with only five fire places is implausible. Moreover, even in the biggest Chaco structure, the number of fire places proved to be sufficient for only ten families. Therefore, the lecture rebuts the argument of the reading.
Secondly, the reading asserts that the Chaco structures were used to store food supplies. In fact, the primary crops of the Chaco people was grain maze, which significantly needed to be stored for long use. Therefore, the abundance of places in the Chaco structure is a good characteristic providing that it can successfully fulfill this purpose. The lecture, on the other hand, casts doubt on this viewpoint, saying that current research carried out told a completely different story. In fact, there is so sign that containers of grain maze were stored here or trace of grain maze inside the structures.
Last but not least, the reading indicates that these houses might be used as ceremonial centers. In fact, archeologist spotted an enormous mound formed by a pile of old material. Later excavations discovered the presence of scores of broken pots, which is a solid evidence for the assumption that these structures might serves as ceremonial centers. Nevertheless, the lecture challenges this points and cited the revelation of current research. It has been revealed that there is an abundancy of building material inside the structures. Therefore, the professor reaches a conclusion that these structures might serve as dumbing places for building materials. Moreover, the presence of food at the site, which is believed to be eaten by those who came to the structures for ceremony, probably were the meals of the building constructors. The lecture once again refutes to the argument of the reading.
TOEFL listening discussions: Two roommates talking about fraternities