This site contains captioned rock art pages of mostly lesser known petroglyph and pictograph sites
in the California Deserts and adjacent Southwest.

Books about Petroglyphs    What... Who... Why...     Rock Art Etiquette     Petroglyph Links    Rock Art Archives

  Rock Art Gallery

  pictographs & petroglyphs

rock art Fremont petroglyphs Anasazi pictographs Desert Culture

it is a good idea to Bookmark this Page! 

Fremont- Utah Anasazi- Arizona Desert Culture- California

Welcome to PETROGLYPHS.US  This site is operated by avocational archaeologist Donald Austin to promote appreciation for prehistoric Native American pictographs and petroglyphs. I believe these ancient sites should be protected from destruction and should be appreciated for the beautiful prehistoric art they represent. The best way to protect these sites is with the cooperation of an informed and enlightened public. 

Petroglyphs are also called carved rock, Indian writing, picture writing and rock graphics. The ancient images shown on these pages were created by the Anasazi, Shoshone, Sinagua, Yuman, Kumeyaay, Hohokam, Ute, Fremont, Mohave, Paiute and Desert Culture people who lived in the prehistoric Southwest and Great Basin. 

This page contains links to my photographs of rock art. I've put several captioned photos from each site on separate pages for your ease of viewing. Each page may take a few minutes to download. 

Articles & Papers
about Rock Art
  Petroglyph & Pictograph Sites
Click on the site name to view images from that site. I update pictures & descriptions periodically and add new rock art sites and interesting articles every month or so. Be sure to bookmark this page and come back and visit us again.
Are Numic Scratched Rock Art
Drawings Women's Work?

By Kish LaPierre & Alan Garfinkel 
Great Basin Bighorn Ceremonialism:
...a possible Sheep Shrine at the Rose Springs Site,
Rose Valley, Alta California

By: Robert M Yohe II & Alan Garfinkel  PDF
  Komatke  A Hohokam  petroglyph site along the Gila River near Gila Bend, Arizona.  12 photographs  February 2014
Reproductive Symbolism in Great Basin Rock Art:
Bighorn Sheep Hunting, Fertility and Forager Ideology. 
By: Alan P Garfinkel & Donald R Austin 
  Lake Isabella  A Kawaiisu pictograph area in California's Eastern Sierras.   14 photographs    July 2012
Myth, Ritual and Rock Art
By: Garfinkel, Austin, Earle and Williams

Granite Mountain  Archaic pictographs and petroglyphs in the
eastern Mojave Desert.  12 photographs
  August 2011

Culture Crisis and Rock Art Intensification
By: A. Garfinkel, G. Marcom and R. Schiffman

Wind Caves  Chumash pictographs near Santa Barbara, California.
12 photographs   
May 2011

In the U.S. NEWS  

Big Petroglyph Canyon  Petroglyphs from the Coso Range near Ridgecrest, California.   10 photographs    June 2010


Sears Point   Patayan and Hohokam petroglyphs along the Gila River east of Yuma, Arizona.    10 photographs    November 2009


Gold Butte   Anasazi, Patayan and Southern Paiute petroglyphs from the red rock district of southeast Nevada.     11 photographs    July 2009


Wood's Wash   Petroglyphs and some pictographs from the western Lanfair Valley area, Mojave Desert, California.   12 photographs    May 2009

Kootenay pictographs vandalized by paintball pellets
By: CBS News   September 2013  new window
  Chuckwalla Spring  A petroglyph site in a small canyon on the eastern flank of the Panamint Mountain Range, California.   10 photographs    March 2009
36-Gigapixil image captures petroglyphs in Texas
By: Geoff Manaugh  September 2013  new window
  Black Rock Well  A petroglyph site in the hills below the Saline Valley, near Panamint Springs, California.   11 photographs    December 2008
Winter Solstice ceremony tradition returns
By: Alan Garfinkel Gold  August 2013   new window 
  Painted Rock  Chumash and Yokut pictographs at a Carrizo Plain, California, rock art site.  12 photographs    June 2008
Oldest Rock Art: Nevada Petroglyphs May Be North America's Most Ancient Carvings
By: Megan Gannon  August 2013  new window
  Bates Well  A small petroglyph site located near an old pioneer homestead in the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona.  7 Photographs    May 2008
International NEWS    
Mexico unvails stone age etchings
By: unnamed  August 2013  new window
Aboriginal rock art may depict first sea arrivals
By: Amy Middleton  August 2013  new window


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What is rock art?
In general, there are three basic categories:

Petroglyphs are carved, pecked, chipped or abraded into stone. The outer patina covered surface of the parent stone is removed to expose the usually lighter colored stone underneath. Some stone is better suited to petroglyph making than others. Stone that is very hard or contains a lot of quartz does not work well for petroglyph making; however, a nice desert varnished basalt usually works very well.  
Pictographs are painted onto stone and are much more fragile than petroglyphs. The paint is a mineral or vegetal substance combined with some sort of binder like fat residue or blood. If the paint was not properly mixed with a binder it would not adhere well to the stone and the pictograph would quickly flake away. Pictographs were painted in locations where they would be protected from the elements: in caves, alcoves, under ledges and overhangs.

Intaglios are large ground drawings created by removing the pebbles that make up desert pavement. Intaglios are usually in the outline of animals (zoomorphs) or human-like figures (anthropomorphs). Intaglios are found on mesas along the Colorado River more so than in other places. 


Click here for more  Rock Art Terminology  opens a new browser window
Who made them?
Just about everybody. Rock art of one form or another occurs all over the world, Australia, Africa, Europe, North and South America. The U.S. has sites in most of its states, including some celebrated Hawaiian 'glyphs. Some states have more sites than others. Maine, I believe has only two; Kentucky has about twenty; Arizona, New Mexico and California each have thousands... and you can easily visit many of these western sites.

Prehistoric people, starting tens of thousands of years ago, left a record of their presence on the stone walls of caves and canyons, and on boulders around springs and water holes. In many cases the rock art and stone tools they left behind is all that remains of their culture.

Why did they make them?...  When?... How...
read more...   Books about Rock Art and Pictographs  


Rock Art Etiquette   or go  back to sites  to view pictures
Rock art sites have survived for thousands of years and will continue to survive for many thousands more... providing no one ever visits them again! In other words, the greatest danger to the sites is people. Many prehistoric sites have been flooded due to the building of dams along water courses where prehistoric people once lived, but millions of people now benefit from those dams. Many more sites have been destroyed by highway construction (wouldn't you know we need to put our highways right on top  the very same pathways prehistoric people once used!), but hundreds of thousands of people now benefit from those highways. And today, sites are being destroyed to make room for housing projects that will benefit still hundreds of more people. Every year we build further and further into areas that were once protected only by their desolation. In the near future these prehistoric sites will be protected only by the attitudes of the citizens of this country. Sounds bleak for the rock art, and it is. Maybe public attitude and the situation will change, but until it does, there are some things that each of us can do.

Don't trespass on other people's property. Ask for permission and if you get it, follow their rules.

Don't drive right up to a prehistoric site. Walk the last half or quarter mile. It is good exercise, you might see some wildlife or other interesting stuff along the way, hold your kids hand and do some bonding. 

If you pick something up off of the ground - take a good look at it, check it out. Let the others in your group check it out too, and then put it back where you found it. 

Note: Petroglyph sites are not confined only to where the actual carved images are, they include the surrounding area as well. The surrounding area may include prehistoric campsites, villages, food processing locations, quarries, rock alignments, hunting blinds and a whole host of other archaeological  interests. It is these other interests that help to give us supportive data  about the carved images and they need to be preserved as well.

Never carry glassware with you and what ever you carry in, carry out. And if you want to really help, carry out some trash that someone not as considerate as you left behind.

Do take photographs or make sketches of the 'glyphs.

Do show the pictures to all of your friends and family.

Do look up information about petroglyphs on the internet and in books.

Do not make 'rubbings'. Most people don't know how to do rubbings properly and then don't know what to do with them later. Besides, the 'glyph could easily be damaged.

No touching the 'glyphs, especially pictographs (pictos'). Touching will dislodge lose pieces of stone or paint, and natural body oils (or whatever lotions you have on your skin) are not good for the 'glyphs. It is hard not to touch... so if you can't control yourself touch a nearby stone instead.

Don't climb above the petroglyphs. You may dislodge loose stone that will fall and damage them. And if you fall you'll scrape yourself on the stone you'll bleed on the petroglyphs on the way down! (see no touching).

Note: I didn't mention 'don'ts'  that fall in the category of common sense. However, since it only takes one person to ruin things for everyone else, I'll sum up the common sense don'ts for them:

Don't do anything to a petroglyph that you wouldn't do first to your own head. That includes painting it, shooting it or carving your initials in it.

Final Note: Do have a good time, be safe and act responsibly. Enjoy the outdoors and remember, it is about appreciating and preserving prehistoric rock art, not about indulging ourselves.



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2003 - 2013 All rights reserved. Reproduction, distribution or other use of images without permission from the artist is prohibited. For comments about this website contact Don Austin