Friday, August 7, 2009

Petrified Forest National Park Rock Art

This large (see radiator in background) petroglyph of a mountain lion was discovered by a bulldozer in 1930.

Looking down on "newspaper rock" from a park overlook (as close as you can get to this one). Note that there are many petroglyph sites in the southwest called Newspaper rock, people seem to like to use this term when they discover a large number of petroglyphs on one rock.

Here a closer view of Newspaper Rock, click on it to wander around... These petroglyphs were chipped through the oxidized rock finish between 650-2000 years ago.

Part of Newspaper Rock...

Another location in the park near the Puerco Pueblo ruin which was built/occupied around 1250 AD. There are some solstice petroglyph markers in this area that only get aligned with a band of sunlight on the summer solstice.

My photos are slightly enhanced to darken the patina finish on the rock, its actually a little lighter in real life with slightly less contrast between the patina and exposed underlying rock that has been chipped out for the petroglyph. There are also a very large number of petroglyphs on privately owned land with restricted/no access in the greater surrounding area of the park.

One of the issues with petroglyphs and pictographs is that they do degrade over time due to erosion, patinas reforming in chiseled out portions, vandalism, etc. One option would be to remove them and put them in sterile museums. Another would be to build protective covers over them (like the huge monsterous structure over the Casa Grande Ruin in Casa Grande National Monument). Another is to let them be, keep them in place in their natural environment. This last option is the current option favored by the Park Service and by the Navajo. I tend to agree. Seeing something in place is a different experience than seeing it thousands of miles away and behind glass.

The mountain lion petroglyph symbol is found in modern reproductions like this metal art piece at the park headquarters. It is a pretty cool figure.

I wonder what people of long ago would think if they could see and handle this paper bag with several of their symbols displayed? Or would they be more fascinated by the text? Or just the paper bag itself? Ok, well this wraps up the Petrified Forest National Park pictures, next up is Canyon de Chelly.


  1. The mountain lion design is fantastic with that amusing face and so many toes!

  2. Looks like a map-where the mountain lions are, fish,snakes, tribes. Slashes could be number of days' hike or villages. All crowned by the sun and moon. :)

  3. The heron catching the frog is glyph that's totally new to me -- I've seen a lot, here and there, but nothing like this!


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