Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Petroglyphs of the Southwest

After seeing the rock art of Utah I was inspired to find more of it in Texas. There are several places in the Big Bend country one can find pictographs and El Paso is also home to some great examples at Hueco Tanks. But I wanted to look further afield.

I went west for fall color last week and while exploring some of the rocky slopes near a (now dry) spring I found some great rock art. There were petroglyphs carved into a dark rock of volcanic origin (different than the sandstone carvings in Utah).


I picked the location as I had heard there might be petroglyphs there. As I walked the slope I went for a while without seeing anything but the rock looked promising and I kept walking. Having the spring nearby meant people would have been coming here for a long time, so I hoped and kept looking. Suddenly I saw this first rock with some carving on it. It was a couple of small simple designs. This was encouraging. Where there was one, I hoped there would be others.

I went a bit further and suddenly I saw a Tlaloc man!!!! Wow-this was a great find-a Tlaloc man! Tlaloc was a rain god, notice his large round eyes, and the trapezoidal shape. I could not believe how large this carving was. This one measures a good meter tall (over 3 ft) and is 15-18 inches wide. The carvings around him look like either other versions of or maybe "sample" Tlalocs.

Talk about luck. This is a graphic I had heard of but had never seen. There is a famous Tlaloc drawing at Hueco Tanks State Park near El Paso, but in my several visits to the park I never saw it.


This one was amazing. Here on a rocky desert mountainside staring at the sky was a magnificent piece of rock art. The detail was superb, this must have taken some time. The rock had four other carvings that looked trapezoidal and I wondered if they were prototypes for the final carving or if they were graphics of their own.


After photographing the Tlaloc for a while, I walked further and found several other small carvings. Then I found this panel. This rock was at least 10 feet wide and 8 feet tall. On it were carved several petroglyphs it was practically a mural. I photographed the panel and some of the individual carvings. Again the detail was amazing


All told, I saw dozens of carvings this afternoon, yet I know I found only a fraction of what this site has to contain. The rocks of this hillside must be covered with them. I think a return trip is on order to further document the area.

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