Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Zion’s Ancient Rock Art

The Ancient Ones once gathered here

The "Ancient Ones" once gathered here

┬ęBert Gildart: Years ago, when I first ventured into Zion National Park, one of the most interesting discoveries was to learn that the park once served as the hunting grounds for the Anasazi people who inhabited the area from A.D. 200 to 1250. The Kaibab Paiute also lived here, occupying the area for the last 800 years, and all these people created rock art, also known as petroglyphs. Petroglyphs are images that have been chipped into a rock surface as opposed to pictographs, which are images created with the pigments of plants or pulverized rock.

CANYON WITH ANCIENT ART

Janie and I learned about one such panel about 15 years ago, having stumbled onto a canyon in the course of one of our hikes. The park, of course, knows about these panels, and now show photographs of them, but there are no interpretive signs saying “Pull over, Indian Rock Art Ahead.” Instead, they wait for a visitor to ask about their presence, then they point the way, reminding people that there is a protocol for visitations.

Each time Janie and I visit the site, we do so hoping to see that they have not been defaced, as so many have in other parts of the Southwest. In Dinosaur National Monument, for instance, a certain type of person has used petroglyphs for target practice.

Sheep, common motif

Sheep, common motif

But we were so happy to see on this trip that this particular panel has endured, suggesting that perhaps the majority of visitors are beginning to appreciate such mysteries. Of course, signs posted near the panels advising that it is illegal to deface such archaeological treasures and that fines up to $20,000 may be imposed, could also help.

MYSTERIES REMAIN

Though no one knows what motivated Native Americans to create these panels, some scientists believe they were inspired by hunters, hoping to lure sheep back to sites through which they might once have ranged. Because sheep are the dominate theme that theory seems plausible. In fact, as we examined the panels we discovered that literally thousands had been pecked into the rock. Some of the sheep had huge horns, others, the females, had large bellies, suggesting a desire to see sheep procreate. Though some of the sheep are fading from sun, wind, rain and general weathering, several images remain vibrant.

Mysterious forms

Mysterious forms

This canyon also contains images that are difficult to interpret, and these include circles, and images that depict the human form. Scientists have made attempts to age these glyphs and brochures say that they are on the verge of creating new techniques that may help.

We spent about an hour yesterday, photographing the art of the Ancient Ones, using both natural light and strobe lights. No one else was around, just us–and the ancient art left by a people who once came here to create a magic that still endures. By their art we could still sense their presence.



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