Less than half a mile east of Pueblo Bonito lies the Chacoan great house Chetro Ketl. The ground plan is the classic D-shape characteristic of the 1000s. Chetro Ketl has the largest surface area of any Chacoan great house (>250,000 ft²) although it has only about 400 rooms, approximately one hundred fewer than Pueblo Bonito. The building may have risen to four stories in some places on the north side, but only three stories remain. A balcony running along most of the back wall is marked today by a horizontal slit in the masonry at the second story. Hundreds of tree-ring dates place the major construction period in the mid-1000s.
Two great kivas were situated in the large open plaza, and a tower kiva was constructed near the middle of the central room block. Excellent examples of stone discs found in great kiva seating pits can be seen in the excavated great kiva. The smaller great kiva was backfilled with soil following excavation, and its location is not readily apparent today.
Chetro Ketl was selected by Edgar Hewett in 1920 for excavations by the School of American Research and the Royal Ontario Museum. Hewett carried out the work at the site through 1921 but stopped during the period Neil Judd was excavation Pueblo Bonito. Hewett returned in 1929 and used Chetro Ketl and other sites for student field training in archaeology. Work at the site continued through 1934. Although Hewett did a poor job of documenting his work and published only generalized statements of the results, research here produced significant contributions to dendrochronology, architectural studies, and ceramic analysis.
An in-depth analysis of Chetro Ketl architecture and dendrochronology by Stephen Lekson, Peter McKenna, Jeffrey Dean, and Richard Warren was published by the Chaco Center in 1983. A delightful and perceptive foreword by Florence Ellis provides a strong historic link to Hewett's work in this great house.
The name "Chetro Ketl" was reported to Lieutenant Simpson in 1849 by his Jemez Pueblo guide, but there is no known translation. Translated Navajo names for the site include "house in the corner" and "shining house".
Text and Ruins Map from The Chaco Handbook - An Encyclopedic Guide - Vivian & Hilpert 2002.