These ancient pictorial records – called petroglyphs – were created by people who lived in the Capitol Reef, Utah area between 300 to 1300 CE.
This is an interesting area to explore. It is adjacent to Highway 24 and can be viewed from a series of boardwalks. There are other petroglyphs along the cliff, to either side of this main collection.
Some of the figures are large in size with no visible way for a hunter or medicine person to reach the top of the image, to peck it out from the red sandstone. I puzzled over how they achieved this – perhaps constructing a basic platform? The topography of the land changed over time? The figures are in different styles, indicating different creators over time.
The purpose of these images is often debated, depending upon your view of Native American cultures and their belief in star people who visit them to impart information, tools and protection. Many of the images are for success in the hunt. Others are fantastical beings. The images of beings in headdress could either be in the tradition of dressing in masks for ceremonial purposes, or as some believe, recording the culture’s contact with extra-terrestrial beings.
In any case – I enjoy the large rock being to the right in the top image. He is permanently smiling at the artistic display before him!
Petroglyphs are images pecked into rock, as here. We also have records of ancient peoples in pictographs, which are images painted onto surfaces. Pictographs are often found in caves or in structures; they do not survive well in open areas.
Here are some of the other petroglyphs found in this immediate area. You’ll need to decide for yourself whether these indicate extraterrestrial contact or are hunters dressed with masks, preparing for the hunt.
You can see more petroglyphs in my blog about Signal Hill, Tucson, Arizona.