Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pictograph Cave State Park

I was impressed with all the history this park represented. This area and its three caves were once the living quarters of prehistoric hunters and gatherers. The land area of Pictograph Cave was once part of the Crow reservation but the earlier people who camped here may not have been related to the Crow tribe. Plains tribes and their ancestors moved around periodically, within large geographic regions, so the area occupied by one tribe at a time may not be the same tribe occupying it another time. Over 30,000 significant objects,or artifacts have been discovered in the caves and surrounding area. The articles were discovered in a series of horizontal layers of the caves, which meant that the area was occupied during different time periods, beginning about 4,500 years ago. This information I am have obtained from the park's trail guide. There are three caves in the park and it is the Pictograph Cave which we were able to step inside and view the Native Indian drawings. A lot of the painted images on the cave walls have faded over time, but it is still possible to see some of them. Many of the older drawings cannot be associated with modern tribes. But there are also contemporary drawings from more recent Indian tribes as reflective in the drawings of rifles. The red streaks in the lower right corner are rifles, possibly enlarging the picture may help you to see them.
In these caves we saw geological oddities known as concretions.They are large boulders suspended on the cliff wall and inside the caves. Their formation began millions of years ago under a shallow sea which extended into present-day Montana. They were formed as small shellfish and plants died, decomposed and hardened around different chemical compositions. In the ceiling of the second cave a large fossilized clam shell is preserved.
The caves are in the fertile valley of the Yellowstone River, and a springs nearby also provides a supply of clear water.While hiking around this park it was easy for us to understand why many ancient cultures traveled through this area. And the shelter which the caves provided also added to its desirability as a place to reside.

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