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Chuckwalla Spring Petroglyphs

Photographs of California rock art.  Click on any photo to enlarge.


Chuckwalla Spring
is located a narrow canyon that extends from the desert floor several miles up into the eastern flank of the Panamint Mountain Range. An ancient Indian trail, now mostly washed out, leads to the spring where water is present on an unreliable basis. Vegetation in the canyon and around the spring is not dense, and at just under 2000' the elevation provides little relief from daily summer temperatures of 115 plus. Winter temperatures are mild and the spring probably served as a rest stop for prehistoric peoples traveling between the winter-spring food gathering resources on the valley floor and the summer-fall hunting/gathering resources higher up in the Panamint Range.

The fifty or so petroglyphs are all found on a medium brown varnished dolomite(?) rock outcrop, which is about thirty feet in diameter and situated about eight feet above the floor of the wash. Many of the petroglyphs are on the top of the rock facing up, but deterioration and repatinization of the petroglyphs is slight, indicating they are not of a great age. The petroglyphs appear to be of the same approximate age, not created over millennia. The petroglyphs showing the greatest deterioration are near the base of the outcrop. The deterioration seems more related to water flow activity in the wash than the ravages of wind and rain. The petroglyphs at Chuckwalla Spring are mostly nonrepresentational and more similar to petroglyphs made by the Shoshone Culture than petroglyphs made by earlier Archaic people.
 

Chuckwalla Spring petroglyphs Death Valley

Chuckwalla Spring petroglyphs

Chuckwalla Spring petroglyphs. View from up canyon looking east.

The rock outcrop containing the petroglyphs.

deteriorated rock art

recent petroglyphs

Petroglyphs lower on the outcrop and closest to the wash show the greatest deterioration.

The probable most recent petroglyph is also
the lightest in color.

abstract petroglyphs

Death Valley bighorn sheep petroglyphs

Most of the petroglyphs are nonrepresentational abstract designs whose meanings are difficult to interpret.

This depiction of a bighorn sheep is a rare example of representational petroglyphs at Chuckwalla Spring.

snake emerging from rock petroglyphs shoshone petroglyph boulder

This petroglyph may represent a snake emerging from a crack in the rock. Snakes can travel back and forth from this world to the spirit world.

Space on the boulder for additional petroglyphs
was available.

shoshone Death Valley petroglyphs spiral snake petroglyph
This typical Chuckwalla Spring panel was probably made
by people of the Shoshone Culture.
Not a common spiral... the outer circle may be a rattlesnake connected to an inner spiral. In some beliefs spirals are believed to be portals to the spirit world.
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