Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Petroglyph National Monument

Many years ago a series of volcanic eruptions began to create Albuquerque's 17-mile long West Mesa escarpment. Lava flowed around the hills and higher ground to create natural canyons along the edge of the escarpment. Today, within Petroglyph National Monument, there are several canyons where petroglyphs are present and also an extinct volcanic area where the park's important geology can be explored. Archeologists believe that Ancestral Puebloans made most of the 20,000 images pecked in stone which can be found inside the park. Rinconada Canyon was the area we chose yesterday in which to explore the petroglyphs. In that canyon it is estimated that there are 1,200 petroglyphs. We walked along a desert path in the canyon which, as you can see in the picture below, has high walls composed of volcanic rock.
It was fortunate that we stopped at the visitor's center first. There we talked with the park ranger as well as received written information on the petroglyphs. It is estimated by archeologists that the petroglyphs are 400 to 700 years old. Pueblo elders believe they are as old as time. They also believe that the images choose when and to whom they reveal themselves. At the beginning of our walk through the canyon we had to search fairly diligently to find the petroglyphs. However, by the time we had walked to the end of the canyon, the images became more numerous and not difficult to find. The images included human-like figures, geometric designs, and animal figures. In the petroglyph below several deer are feeding or drinking water from a brook.
Among the petroglyphs we saw a variety of crosses. It is believed that the outlined cross is an authentic American Indian petroglyph that symbolizes the 4 cardinal directions. The non-outlined Christian-style cross and crucifixes may have been by Hispanic sheepherders in the 1700s and 1800s and closely resemble Latin crosses. It was interesting for me to consider all the different people and cultures who have passed this way over the years.  John found a rock with the date 1819 scratched on it.
I took many pictures of the petroglyphs which we found. We cooperated with other people around us who were also searching for them, sharing our findings with each other. It was  interesting that one of us may interpret an image entirely different from what someone else would understand of it. The last petroglyph which I want to show here depicts a face on the corner of a boulder. It is thought that perhaps the image is looking in looking in two directions because he is guarding a sacred location.

No comments:

Post a Comment