Our very own GCAS President, Kyle Meredith, has dropped by this part of the blogosphere to take us all on a virtual trip that he and two other hardy GCAS members (plus one mascot) recently took to a petroglyph site near Deming. All text and photos are courtesy of Kyle Meredith. Away we go!
The Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project in Velarde, New Mexico, is hosting a live discussion on their Facebook page at 1:00 PM on Friday, May 1, 2020. Copied from the MPPP newsletter:
A NOTE FROM THE FOUNDER
Images depicted in Southwestern petroglyphs are open to interpretation due to the absence of a written record explaining the ancient artist's intentions. However, certain petroglyphs found at various sites throughout the region appear similar to one another and so have led many researchers to propose that they depict heavenly bodies (see also photo on left) or a specific astronomical event like a coronal mass ejection or a supernova. Other petroglyphs have been found to track recurring events like solstices and equinoxes; these markers are typically spirals across which rock shadows or daggers of light trace the sun's path across the sky (photo on right). The Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project (MPPP) has something a bit different...
Providence Cone is located east of Deming, jutting upward from the surrounding flatlands. Locals know it as Rattlesnake Peak and there is a good reason for that name. As long as one stays alert Providence Cone makes for a good wintertime field trip as twenty-eight hardy GCAS members demonstrated on February 2, 2020.
Features of interest in the easier, more level portions of the area include a few difficult-to-find petroglyphs and grinding holes, and an area of rubbing rocks where megafauna like mastodon and bison groomed themselves some 10,000 years ago.
There are many multiple-exposure photographs existing throughout cyberspace that illustrate the solar analemma. Each week, a dedicated photographer photographs the sun from the same position during the course of a full year. The result is a photograph of 48 to 52 images of the sun in the shape of what most people recognize as a figure-eight, i.e., the "infinity" symbol. If photographed from the Northern Hemisphere the highest point of the analemma is the sun's position at the summer solstice and the lowest point is the position of the winter solstice. The path of the moon follows a similar analemma shape. Here on the right is one sample of a solar analemma via weatherscapes.com:
Following is more speculation about the images of three separate fish the GCAS observed on their December 2019 field trip to the San Diego Mountain "Three-Fish" petroglyph site. Your faithful webmaster proposes that they are not fantasy images but instead are relatively factual representations of three separate fish species, at least two of which may have been marine fish - in other words, fish not local to the rivers and lakes of the desert Southwest but to Mexico's Gulf of California.
Up above there is the petroglyphic image of Fish Number One - it measures about 22 inches long by about 10 inches high. Note the rounded head, dorsal fins set far back, and the broad tail. I venture to guess that this petroglyph may be a fair and accurate representation of either a California opaleye or a Pacific porgy. The California opaleye (photo left, upper fish) inhabits coastal waters from California south along the Baja peninsula and into the Gulf of California and can reach a bit over two feet in length. The Pacific porgy (photo right) is found from Baja California and the Gulf of California to Peru. They also reach a maximum of two feet long.
Does any fisherperson out there have samples of other possible contenders?
So far there has been no feedback to the questions posed by the fish images among the petroglyphs at the Three Fish Site, the destination of the December 2019 GCAS field trip. Therefore your faithful webmaster will present her own suppositions.
Let's begin by assuming that each of the three fish petroglyphs are factual representations of three certain fish species, made approximately to scale. Secondly, let's suppose that whoever created the fish petroglyphs may not necessarily have recorded a fish that had been caught locally, but that the artist(s) had at one time or another seen such a fish somewhere in their travels and was recording the fish from memory.
The GCAS's informal name for the site of our December field trip was inspired by the three separate petroglyphs of three different fish in three different places. Every reader of this here blog is invited to ponder the images and give us their opinions of what species of fish each image may represent. Over there on the right is Fish Number One - a stand-alone petroglyph about 22 inches across by 10 inches high, more or less. (No one measured.)
On December 8, 2019, 22 GCAS members congregated southeast of Hatch, New Mexico, to visit a petroglyph site most of us had never seen before. Weather forecasts threatened rain but luckily the trip stayed dry and overcast with wind increasing in the early afternoon; near-perfect conditions for photographing petroglyphs. The trail was generally easy to moderate, but one difficult section required scrambling across a canyon's side along a steep patch of rock that would have been impossible to safely traverse when wet.
Torie Grass joins us today to share photos she took on a GCAS field trip to the Rock House Petroglyph Site on April 28, 2019. Torie has been a member and enthusiastic supporter of the GCAS for many years. Most recently, she volunteered her time to help make the April 2019 ASNM annual meeting in Silver City a success.
The Rock House Petroglyph Site is located on New Mexico State Trust Land near a state highway. It sits opposite the Rock House Pueblo Site which fell victim to bulldozers years ago. For years it was known locally as the “Bandito” site because of a large red stereotyped Mexican figure that a vandal had painted over a petroglyph panel. In 2015, the GCAS undertook remediation of the site and safely removed the red barn paint that had defaced the petroglyphs. Torie's photo on the left illustrates a portion of that restored panel. Her photo on the right shows a different area of petroglyphs. In both images, the group demonstrates the preferred Best Practice of taking pictures of ancient symbols without touching or walking on them. When visiting any archaeological site, be as cool as this group is.
Thank you for contributing these photos, Torie!