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Wood's Wash petroglyphs & pictographs

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


Wood's Wash is a mostly dry wash running for about 20 miles north to south and centered about 20 miles east of Kelso, California. The wash collects runoff from the local low hills during period of rain, but quickly returns to its dry condition. The elevation here is around 5000' and summer daytime temperatures are usually below 100. Except for isolated areas that are spring fed the vegetation consists of yucca, various cactus and dry brush.  Local fauna consists of lizards, snakes, small mammals, birds, occasional deer and cattle.

Dotted along the edges of the wash and extending some yards up the sides of the hills are chunky, block basalt outcrops. Most of the petroglyphs are pecked into the basalt on the western facing east side of the wash.  The wash is in Chemehuevi territory, but stylistically the petroglyphs seem to belong to the Archaic, Mohave and Chemehuevi Cultures. The Archaic petroglyphs are the most heavily repatinaed and are sometimes superimposed by Chemehuevi images. The Mohave were long distance traders and left their Grapevine Style (symmetrical, double outlined, capital "I" figures) petroglyphs at water sources in many areas the Mojave Desert.
 

Wood's Wash petroglyphs

repatinaed petroglyphs

For several millennia the exposed basalt along the margins of Wood's Wash has provided a canvass for rock art.

There is superimposition of images at Wood's Wash. Additionally, weathering and lichens have obliterated some of the images

Mohave petroglyphs

rock art

Most of the petroglyphs are nonrepresentational geometric designs. Some, like these, suggest a Mohave Culture affiliation.

On this panel, the probable most recent petroglyph is also
the lightest in color and superimposed over earlier images.

anthropomorphic petroglyph

big horn petroglyph

Anthropomorphs are uncommon at this site, and when the do occur they are represented as simple stick figures.

This depiction of a bighorn sheep is a rare example of representational zoomorphic petroglyphs at Woods Wash.

Archaic rock art Numic scratching over petroglyphs

This highly repatinaed petroglyph is probably Archaic in origin, and indicates rock art making over a long period of time.

This scratching may be attributed to Numic speaking people spreading east across the Mojave Desert into the Great Basin.

Chemehuevi petroglyphs Mojave Desert pictograph
This typical convoluted petroglyph panel was probably made
by people of the Chemehuevi Culture.
There are a few pictographs at this site located in places protected from the elements.
faded desert pictograph d-stretched pictograph
A first glance this pictograph panel looks like a smear of natural color. When D-stretched the panel reveals a combination of suns, circles and rakes.
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