NEXT MEETING: 6:00 PM, Wednesday, June 19, 2019, at the Roundup Lodge in San Lorenzo (Mimbres Valley). Potluck followed by general meeting, then our Featured Speaker: Karen G. Schollmeyer, PhD, preservation archaeologist for Archaeology Southwest, presenting: "The Cliff Valley in the 14th Century."

NEXT FIELD TRIP: TBA: watch this space.

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Field Trip to Indian Wells - the Petroglyph Part

One of the fun aspects of studying petroglyphs is that regardless of how you interpret the images, nobody is wrong and everybody is right. Following, then, are pics of some of the petroglyphs our GCAS group saw on our March 3, 2019, field trip to Indian Wells.

Moon 1 per Patterson IMG_1005Author Alex Patterson identifies this circle-with-a-dot over there on the left as a symbol for the moon. Others describe it as a symbol for the sun. Either interpretation seems reasonable but it gets complicated when considering this next image here on the right. Two moons? Two suns? One of each, perhaps?

Fence  Net  or Pueblo IMG_0996Next, on the left we see an image of a grid. Archaeologists variously interpret this as a fence to keep animals either in or out of an area; or it could be a net for hunting/fishing; or maybe it's a layout of a pueblo as seen from above. Again, all are reasonable interpretations. But then, how does one interpret a similar grid, but with dots in the middle of each square, as shown in the photo on the right? Best I can come up with myself, is that if one assumes the grid in the photo on the left is a fence around sections of a field, maybe the image on the right shows a fenced field that has been planted. Or not. Could both images possibly depict rooms of a pueblo, with the pueblo rooms in the left photo being unoccupied but each room in the pueblo on the right being occupied by one person or one family? Could this be an archaic version of a census?

IMG_0986 Owl per KyleThird, over here on the far left we have an image of what appears to be an anthropomorphic head with large eyes and some kind of antennae sprouting from the center of the head. That might be interpreted to be a symbol of the Mesoamerican rain god, Tlaloc. Alternatively, it could symbolize the staring eyes of Death. However, the image on the near left shows what appears to be the same head with the same kind of eyes...but this image shows a pair of curved horns on the sides of the head. It has been suggested that this depicts an owl species local to the US Southwest with ear tufts, such as the great horned owl or screech owl. If so, does the image on the far left depict a local owl that has no ear tufts, like the spotted owl or pygmy owl? If so, how does one explain the antennae? What are your ideas?

Halley's versus any other cometThis last image is of one that has used some natural features of the underlying rock to create what I, personally, believe is a depiction of a celestial event. Observe how a natural hole in the rock was pecked around, to give the effect of luminescence, with additional pecking that arcs to the right and upwards in a series of dots along a sharp edge of the rock. Sure looks to me like a comet and its tail. Specifically, Halley's Comet. Which we all know returns to our area of the universe every 75-76 years. Meaning our petroglyph artists might have seen it in the sky in 936 CE...1011 CE...1087 CE...1162 CE...

Of course, reasonable minds may differ. And bad ones seldom do.

/s/ webmaster


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Kyle Meredith

Marianne, your observation about the circles in the grid parallel an observation of my own based on something I saw in the Old Pueblo Archaeology Center list of events. Check out the following link for an AAHS event called "Living with canals...":
Pay particular attention to the photo described as: "...a petroglyph that Doolittle interpreted as depicting the pre-Hispanic canals and fields in the floodplain below." It illustrates a rather more complex grid-and-circle design, yet suggestive of ones at Indian Wells.
This is particularly interesting at the Indian Wells site because of the rather vast floodplain here full of sacaton grass which was used as a prehistoric grain. It's hard to believe that this was NOT an important agricultural center. Whether the petroglyphs reflect this is another question...


Thanks for the link, Kyle. Boy, that glyph in the photo sure does look similar to that one at Indian Wells. As to whether one or more of the Indian Wells petroglyphs reflect agricultural practices, I'd sure love to get the Las Cruces astronomy group out there a time or two, to see whether the tracks of any stars/constellations/planets correspond to certain known local planting seasons...especially for a crop of sacaton!

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