Friday, October 4, 2013

Petroglyphs and Pictographs

Petroglyphs are carvings in rock usually made by primitive people. Pictographs are drawings or paintings on rock also usually done by primitive people. On various trips to the four corners area I have seen and photographed many petroglyphs and pictographs. For this post I have chosen some from the East side of the Colorado River, in or near Canyonlands National Park.

The first one is a rock covered with petroglyphs, called Newspaper Rock. It is located in a Utah State Park located on the entrance road to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. The photo below shows an overview of this rock.

This rock is covered with various carvings, probably going back 2,000 years. It is thought that the carvings have been done by many different peoples, including Archaic, Anasazi, Fremont, Navajo, Pueblo and Anglo. The blackish substance on the rock into which the carvings are made is called desert varnish. It only occurs on stable rock in arid regions. About one micrometer thick, it is primarily clay, iron and manganese oxides. It is usually orange-yellow, brown or black. The photos below are closeups of some of the carvings on Newspaper Rock.

In the Needles District, Salt Creek and Horse Canyon have a number of pictographs. People have given some of them names, such as one group often referred to as the Thirteen Faces, another the Four Faces and of course the All American Man. These names are not necessarily accurate; the Thirteen Faces now has only ten discernible. I am choosing not to use any names except for the All American Man. The pictographs are all under overhangs and many had bushes in front of them, at least when I saw them.

This group has both faces and in some cases body coverings as well. The photo below includes a boy about 8 years old for some perspective.

The photo below is a closeup of a section of this group.

The photo below is a group of four from another location.

The photo below is a closeup of the far right figure shown above. Below that is a photo of that figure with the Old Cowboy for perspective.

The group of faces in the photo below are quite unique. The rock face on which they have been painted was prepared by the artist before hand, sort of like a painter preparing a canvas before actually painting a picture. The rock has been smoothed and has the appearance of being whitened, which may be the result of the smoothing. Very interesting pictograph.

The photo below shows some pictographs that to me look unfinished, as if something happened that prevented the artist from completing his painting.

Finally I have included a photograph of the All American Man. As I said in my post about him, he is truly unique.