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Sears Point petroglyphs

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

Sears point is a
medium size petroglyph site overlooking the Gila River about 75 miles east of Yuma, Arizona. This section of southern Arizona is part of the Basin and Range formation; where, over the last 15 million years plate tectonics have significantly stretched apart the earth's surface. This stretching has cracked and separated the uppermost brittle rock into blocks that have tilted, skewed and and partially sunk into the softer underlying crust. Over the millennia these newly formed ranges have eroded and their sediment has accumulated in the basins between them. The stretching also allowed underlying magma to burst through the weakened crust and leave volcanic basalt deposits dotting the landscape.

This area is arid desert, receiving about 7" of rain a year. Winter nighttime lows are 40-50 F and daytime summer highs are in the low 100 F.  The Gila River once flowed here on it's way to meet the Colorado at Yuma, but now the water has been drained away to serve urban Phoenix, and the water that now flows seldom rises to the surface. The usually dry Gila water course is sometimes packed with vegetation sending roots down to underground water, but this brush and small trees are often swept away by flash floods. Various snakes, lizards, birds and small mammals are found here, and deer & coyote tracks are sometimes seen in the sand.

Bands of hunter-gatherers passed through here in Archaic times and left some petroglyphs. By AD 900 Hohokam people were living to the East and the Patayan people were living to the west of Sear's Point, and petroglyph evidence shows that both cultures utilized the area. Seen on the basalt boulders are stick figure, round belly lizard/lizard-man petroglyphs typically found at Hohokam sites as well as anthropomorphic figures with big hands and feet more common in Patayan territory to the west. Also seen are light colored (younger) petroglyphs of cattle probably made by the Tohono O'odham as well as cowboy/traveler inscriptions from 1800's.  In abundance are petroglyph  of zoomorphs (deer, bighorn, felines, quadrupeds) depicted in a vertical orientation. The purpose of a vertical orientation is open to speculation.

Sear's point arizona petroglyphs

petroglyphs Hohokam

 Petroglyphs are found pecked into the boulders leading up to the basalt cap.

Round belly 'lizard man' petroglyphs are commonly found at Hohokam sites.

rock art panel

Patayan petroglyphs

Large panels are found on the vertical rock canvasses at the top of the slope. Notice the two vertical felines in the center of this panel.

see replica of these cats and other petroglyphs

This human-like figure pecked over an older petroglyph
is probably of Patayan making.


Tohono O'odham petroglyph

The petroglyph subject seen here, a hunter with a bow & arrow, helps date this petroglyph to after AD 500.

This modern steer pecked above an older bighorn sheep may have been made by the Tohono O'odham people
who still inhabit this area. 

historic inscription petroglyph Hohokam Patayan rock art

Inscriptions from early travelers and cowboys are
also found on the basalt rocks.

This panel with a complex geometric design is probably
of Hohokam manufacture.

petroglyph repatinated superimposed archaic petroglyph
A significant amount of repatinated and superimposition indicates this site has been used over a long period of time. A circle with a vertical line through it may represent an atlatl (predecessor to the bow & arrow). If so, this repatinated petroglyph may have been made during Archaic times.
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