Adventures in Rock Art: Canyon Pintado National Historic District

“Halfway down the canyon toward the south, there is a very high cliff on which we saw crudely painted three shields or chimales and the blade of a lance.  Farther down on the north side we saw another painting which crudely represented two men fighting.  For this reason we called this valley Cañon Pintado,” wrote Fray Escalante on September 9, 1776.  I read these words on an interpretive sign while walking a dusty trail to view some of these painted images.  It’s thought that Father Dominguez and Father Escalante observed a variety of Native American pecked and painted rock art in this canyon as they traveled through the Douglas Creek Valley.  This area is now a popular recreation site, where you can explore prehistoric and historic pictographs and petroglyphs.

This 16,000 acre area is listed as a National Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places as an important historic property in understanding our nation’s past.  The rock art panels represent several time periods and cultures.  There are panels that were created by the Fremont, dating between 800 to 1150 AD; these images include animals, anthropomorphic figures, and geometric symbols.  The Ute created images like bear paws, horses, and hunting scenes between 1200-1881 AD.  Historic rock art includes ranching symbols, buxom ladies, and horses.  As always, when visiting archaeological sites, keep in mind that these places are incredibly fragile and need to be visited with respect.

For More Information:

https://www.blm.gov/visit/canyon-pintado-national-historic-district

http://www.nomadcolorado.com/canyon-pintado-rock-art/

http://www.coloradolifemagazine.com/Canyon-Pintados-Rock-Art/

Potwisha Rock Art

These beautiful pictographs were created by the Monachee (Western Mono) people, particularly by the Potwisha tribe, who inhabited what is now the Potwisha campground Sequoia National Park, California.  The rock art was outlined with chalk back in the 1970s, which was a common practice when recording rock art elements.

*Please note: rock art is incredibly fragile.  Do not touch rock art, spray-paint it, or vandalize it in any way.  Not only is it ethically wrong, it is illegal.

 For More Information:

https://www.nps.gov/seki/index.htm

Colorful Rock Art and Cliff Dwellings: Palatki Heritage Site

Situated in the beautiful canyons of Sedona, AZ, Palatki Heritage Site is an archaeological site with cliff dwellings and beautiful rock art.  These Sinagua cliff dwellings date between 1150-1350 AD.  The rock art includes pictographs in a variety of symbols and shades.  The rock art is amazingly well preserved; I have rarely seen such a variety of colors incorporated.  The cliff dwelling is a little difficult to properly explore (you see it from a distance), but the rock art is highly visible.

*As ever, be respectful when visiting these fragile archaeological sites.  Never touch rock art, as that can destroy the images.  Be careful not to disturb the architecture and remember it is illegal to take artifacts.

Learn more about Palatki:

http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coconino/recreation/ohv/recarea/?recid=55368&actid=119

Rock Art Adventures: The Procession Panel in Bears Ears National Monument

The archaeology of Comb Ridge, a vast swath of land in Utah (it is currently part of Bears Ears National Monument), is absolutely amazing, with hundreds of rock art panels, dispersed habitation sites, granaries, and so on.  However, hiking Comb Ridge in June is a terrible idea and a bunch of friends and I decided to venture out regardless.  It was boiling hot, exposed, sandy–ugh.  At least there’s rock art.  A ridiculous amount of rock art.  Viewing the Procession Panel definitely made up for any discomfort!  It is thought that the 179 petroglyph figures may depict some kind of ceremonial gathering or migration story.  But, as with most rock art, the interpretation is a bit up in the air.  I had some trouble finding information about this specific panel; one website notes that it may date to the Late Basket Maker period (ca 450-750 AD), but it doesn’t provide any evidence to support that particular date.

*Please note: rock art is incredibly fragile.  Do not touch rock art, spray-paint it, or vandalize it in any way.  Not only is it ethically wrong, it is illegal (see blog post on ARPA).

Rock Art Favorites: Bandelier National Monument, NM

Between 1150 and 1550 CE, the Ancestral Pueblo people carved out homes from the volcanic tuff in the area that is now Bandelier National Monument. One of my favorite sites at Bandelier is Long House, a large complex of multi-storied dwellings built against a cliff face with hundreds of small rooms carved into the rock. I love the petroglyphs throughout the complex. You can see the holes for the roof beams, indicating the location of second and third floors. It is amazing to be able to see where people would have stood on top of their roof to make the designs.  Please note, it is incredibly important to never climb on the walls of any site and to never touch the rock art images; it is both unethical and illegal to damage archaeological sites.

Link:

https://www.nps.gov/band/learn/historyculture/ancestral-pueblo-people.htm

Rock Art Favorites: Dinosaur National Monument, CO, UT

Don’t let the word ‘Dinosaur’ fool you; at Dinosaur National Monument, there are hundreds of prehistoric rock art images that were created by the Fremont people. When I recently visited the Monument, I was absolutely amazed at how many different panels exist. There are pictographs (painted) and petroglyphs (chipped or carved) represented, although petroglyphs are the dominant form. The rock art images are in the ‘Classic Vernal Style,’ which includes human and animal-like figures. Many of the figures have a distinct trapezoidal shape and wear what looks like different types of jewelry and headdresses. For more information on the rock art and culture of the Fremont, see by blog post on this topic or visit the Dinosaur National Monument website. I highly recommend making the trip to this park for the rock art alone!  Please note, it is both unethical and illegal to touch or vandalize rock art.

Links:

https://www.nps.gov/dino/learn/historyculture/viewing-petroglyphs-and-pictographs.htm