Thursday, July 05, 2012

time traveling

The Petroglyph National Monument stretches seventeen miles along a series of basalt ridges created by an ancient lava flow west of Albuquerque.  I went recently to a section of the monument that is infrequently visited and found some nice panels mid-way up the longest ravine.  This kachina warrior probably dates from somewhere between the 13th and 17th Centuries.  There are a few like this at each of the major sites within the monument boundaries.

The star face figures such as this one below are also found frequently.  I did not see this one until I walked by it on my second visit when it was illuminated by the setting sun.

Most of the star face figures are depicted as simple four-prong stars, some with rudimentary appendages.  The one below is the first I've noticed that is attached to a well-proportioned body.  As with the kachina figure nearby, this one holds a war club in the right hand.  The left grasps a bow.

Many of the rock art figures have gotten very dim from weathering the centuries.  It often takes many visits to the same site to find just the right light to bring out design features for the camera.  Now that our monsoon season is starting up, I hope to get back to the place again soon to see how things look under an overcast sky.

This set of pictures was made with my Pentax Spotmatic and a 24mm SMC Takumar lens.  The wide-angle is helpful in framing shots when one is forced to shoot from cramped and precarious positions among the surrounding boulders.  On my next visit I'll probably take the Kodak Reflex II, a tlr with a lens that is very helpful in sorting out the nuances of tone and texture of the petroglyphs.


robert said...

Very interesting and such beauty in the scenery.

ger said...

Hi mike,
lovely shots. Do you know if they try to preserve the drawings?

Mike said...

Preservation is a difficult task. The National Monument near Albuquerque has some rules and fencing that keeps out vehicles and guns, which is a good step. There are also some volunteers that patrol the sites. There is actually not much graffiti considering the proximity to the large urban population. It seems that educational efforts over the past twenty or thirty years has had some beneficial results.

I wrote a brief article on the subject some time ago when we lived near many rock art sites in southern New Mexico. You can find it in my rock art web site at

Ger said...

Hi mike,
an interesting article. I think as you rightly say, education is the key to it, especially when it concerns large areas to be conserved. The laws are pretty stringent in this part of the world as regards defacing historical monuments, but i guess its not as clear cut in the states especially with regard to the history between native americans and the european colonists, i guess Ireland and england have not got that element to factor in so its easier in that sense. These artifacts are very much assets to these areas if people could be convinced of it, as the world becomes more urbanized these areas are becoming ever more significant from a cultural and tourist standpoint. In this country the individual doesn't really own the artifact even if its on their land, that is in the sense that they can't alter it, it belongs to us all.

Julio F said...

Very interesting post. I can but wonder at the people and cultures that made those designs.