Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Tour of the West: Petroglyphs

We spent quite a bit of time on our trip keeping an eye out for interesting petroglyphs.

If you see a rock with fencing around it like this,

look for these. (petroglyph site somewhere in NV)

Signs like this are irresistible. (Dinosaur NM, UT)

Just follow the arrow to the cliff,

climb up,

look carefully,

and spot interesting art. (Did you spot the large figures in the previous photo too?)

Despite the heat and the look on her face, Nimue enjoyed the treasure (art) hunt too.

The highway we followed from Dinosaur down to the Mesa Verde area goes through the Canyon Pintado, or "painted canyon" historic district.  The BLM has put up useful markers so one can find both petroglyphs and pictographs.  As we learned, petroglyphs are designs chipped into the rock; pictographs are painted on with mineral pigments.

Animal figure and squiggle petroglyphs.

White bird pictographs.  We thought this looked a lot like corn.

Kokopelli pictograph.  He is usually thought to be a migration/fertility symbol.

This was one of my favorites.  Probably not actually a monster, but we named him "Raaawry dude" anyway.

The pictographs, being painted on, usually survive better in places where they are relatively protected from the elements, so we found ourselves peering under every likely overhang.  These white hands at Canyon Pintado are pretty easy to spot,

but these ones in Canyon of the Ancients are almost completely worn away.

This spiral petroglyph in the Ute Mountain Tribal Park is bisected by the shadow of a nearby boulder on the winter solstice.  Many of the spiral petroglyphs in the area are thought to be solar calendars.

Even when our focus was on other things like slot canyons

we kept on running into art on the rock walls.

Chad, with the petroglyph log book at the confluence of Wire Pass and Buckskin Gulch.  There must have been good hunting here, given the number of animal petroglyphs!

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