An Anasazi Story by Jeff Posey.
Lucio found the longest, straightest sapling he thought he could handle. He cut it down and beat all its limbs off with his river-stone ax, then dragged it to the open glade rock below the village.
He found seven more and did the same.
“What are you doing, Lucio?” a boy asked.
“Building a Sun Spider,” he said.
A crowd began to gather as he worked. Women carrying water from the little river changed their path to pass by the glade rock. Hunters left and returned the same way, and old women set up their looms in the shade on the uphill side.
Lucio beamed in the attention, but he refused all help and worked alone. After he gathered eight long polls, he began stacking shorter logs like a strangely laid bonfire. He set the logs in an interlocking fashion that towered into a strong structure more than twice his own height.
He leaned the straight poles against the structure and tied them together with long cords of yucca string, then climbed and work for days atop the structure.
When he had secured the eight polls together at the top and stacked stones at the footing of each he noticed the ancient skywatcher standing in the shadows. The old man had never shown the slightest interest in Lucio, and now his chance had come.
Lucio called to the boys of the village and gave them the logs for firewood from the central scaffolding as he dismantled it, until only the eight spidery legs stood over the glade rock. Where he had tied them together with the cord he had woven a small body of a spider made of willow sticks. It hovered over the glade rock like a giant long-legged creature waiting for something. The next morning, Lucio stood in the small shadow cast by the spider’s body and slowly moved with it until evening.
The old skywatcher came to him and spoke. “You will mark the pathway of the shadows with small stones.”
“Yes, Grandfather. And there will be moon shadows two.”
“Mark those as well. I will keep an eye on you.”
Women began bringing Lucio regular meals and water. Boys brought him small river stones for marking the shadow paths, and men built a small pit house where he rested when there were no shadows. Grandfather sent special stones to mark auspicious events, such as the first shadow on solstice days or the arc of shadows produced by a full moon during harvest.
For three years, he meticulously recorded the shadows of the Sun spider. The glade rock became covered with tracks of palm-sized river stones and he walked with great care among them.
Then one night a storm crashed down the spindly legged spider and scattered the stones, and Lucio couldn’t bear it. During the storm, he left, and the people of the village did not know what happened to him.
# # #
I know of nothing like the Sun Spider I describe here. But these people paid more attention to the sun and the moon, direction and shadows, than modern Americans pay to professional sports. There were, I imagine, many such structures built to track the movement of the sun and moon, most of which did not work and did not leave any recognizable archaeological residue.