And Barrier Canyon Rock Art Petroglyphs -
of the Southwest rock art is credited to the
Fremont and Anasazi Indians, but the oldest rock
art on the Colorado Plateau was not left by the
Anasazi or Fremont Indians, but by Indians of the
Archaic Period. Archaic Indians were nomadic
hunter-gathers. Indians of this period lived in
caves and in small brush shelters. Some of the
Southwest canyon country's most spectacular rock
art is attributed to Archaic Indians. The Archaic
Period ended with the introduction of corn in the
Southwest. One of the best examples of Archaic
Indian rock art is in Barrier Canyon (renamed
Horseshoe Canyon) in central Utah. Barrier Canyon
pictographs and Fremont Indian petroglyphs can
sometimes be found on the same rock art panel.
Indian rock art is often positioned on game trails
and commonly depicts mountain sheep, hunting
weapons, and trapezoidal human figures.
Trapezoidal figures with arms are typical of
Fremont Rock Art. Fremont rock art is divided into
two categories: petroglyphs and pictographs.
petroglyph is an image or design cut into a rock
surface without the use of pigment or coloring. In
canyon country, desert-varnished sandstone was
most commonly used. In desert areas, this brown or
black varnish builds up on rocks after prolonged
exposure to the elements. The tool usually used to
produce petroglyphs was agate, chert, or jasper.
are painted on light-colored sandstone surfaces. A
mixture of sumac, yellow ochre, and pinyon gum was
used to make a black powder; yellow from rabbit
brush., and red from red ochre or the roots of
mountain mahogany. Animal fat and plant oils may
have been used to bind the powders together.
Indian artists used their fingers, dog hair or
yucca fibers brushes, and hollow bird bones filled
with pigment. This primitive bird bone "spray
gun" was often used to spray around a hand
placed on the rock.
Fremont used the figure of Kokopelli, a humpbacked
flute player, in petroglyphs several hundred years
before the Hopi were a people (Barnes). Some
archeologists suggest the humpback is a pack, and
Kokopelli was flute playing peddler from
- Dinosaur National Monument
functions are ascribed to some of the
painted and sculpted figures on rock art
panels, but the purpose and meaning is known
only to the creators. Rock art pictures are
interpreted as depicting concepts of wild
resource, fertility, and hunting magic
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There are also
petroglyphs of significant events.
Rock Petroglyph - Moab BLM (left)
Rock Art - Chaco Canyon Petroglyph (right)
Chaco Canyon petroglyph and the Fremont petroglyph
shown below demonstrates the superiority of Fremont
rock art over Anasazi rock art...compare the detail
in the figures. The Anasazi built the great houses
and kivas, but the Fremont Indians excelled in rock
and Trapezoid Rock Art - Dinosaur National Monument
Lizards Petroglyph - Dinosaur National Monument
is no way to determine if this lizard is
contemporary with other Fremont petroglyphs, but the
figure is carved with the same skill as figures of
Fremont origin (Schaafsma).
Three Kings rock art panel located on the McConkie
Ranch outside of Vernal, Utah. There are at least
six visible figures. The lower parts of these
figures are not the typical trapezoid figure and may
have been added by subsequent rock artists (McConkie
Kings Art Panel- James Q. Jacobs
Jacobs describes the panel he photographed
with a telephoto lens. The Three Kings Panel
is about 125 feet above the cliff base. The
nearest photography position is a six inch
ledge on the cliff face. The largest figure
is well over six feet tall. I assume the
circle is about 32 inches, as are other
large circles I have measured in the area.
The major figure in the Three Kings panel is
referred to as the Sun Carrier.
of the rock art pictures on this site were taken by
James Q. Jacobs, and thank him for making his
website on Indian rock art work available to
internet users. The next petroglyph is not on the
Three Kings Panel, but is nearby.
Robison pointed out I had labeled the Big Foot
petroglyph as the Three Kings. The articles on this
web site are written for me to learn more about an
interesting subject, so I appreciate it when an
error is pointed out.
Foot - James Q. Jacobs
Rochester petroglyph panel is on Rochester Creek
between Emery and Castle Dale, Utah. The vast
majority of the pictographs are from the Fremont
period, but on this panel are several questionable
the woman giving birth just to right of center on
states Dr. Gunnerson (1969, p78) is of the
opinion a number of these creatures,
particularly the hippopotamus and alligator
like creatures are of recent derivation. She
goes on to add field inspection indicates,
on the basis of patination and technical
execution, these figures are not recent and
are an integral part of the original panel.
agree with Dr. Gunnerson.
Indians of the Fremont era, or any Indians from
the southwest, could not have knowledge of these
animals. Some have suggested they were drawn based
on fossils, but you don't find complete fossils of
animals that size...scientists spend years
collecting bits and pieces of bones to reconstruct
what they think an animal looked like.
As for technical execution, there is a difference
in the figures. On the questionable figures, the
edges are too straight and are from 1/16th to
1/8th inch deep. The spines on the crocodile-like
figure are perfectly straight lines. Lines this
fine and straight were probably made with a
chisel, not from pecking with stone tools. Likely
candidates for doing this might be historic
Indians (Shoshone, Paiute), college students with
one of the geological surveys, or some other would
be artist....College students with the Hayden
Party that surveyed Yellowstone and the
surrounding areas are thought to have left marks
on several rocks, i.e. William Clark's name near
Swan Valley, Idaho, and the Colter Stone in the
Teton Valley of Idaho.
rock art is one of the most visible and fragile
cultural resources in Utah, it has also been subject
to vandalism and destruction...some jerk put his
initials and shot the woman giving birth on the
Rochester Panel. Rock art must not be touched; oils
from human skin can discolor and eventually
obliterate the designs. The Archaeological Resources
Protection Act of 1979 and the Antiquities Act of
1906 protect rock art.
Rock Art Vandalism
Fremont panel, containing pictographs
and petroglyphs, demonstrates the
sheer stupidity and destructiveness of
too many people. This remarkable rock
art panel, which shows little change
over several hundred years, is now
covered with names and initials. Some
archeologists have proposed the holes
in the heart area are for the spirit
Summers of Las Vegas sent a picture of the
panel after it was restored by a joint project
of the citizens of Emery County, Utah and the
supplied the following information.
1996 the State of Utah wanted every county
to do some sort of "Centennial
Project". Emery county opted for the
Buckhorn Wash panel restoration. So with
local fundraisers and additional money from
the state, they hired a person who was well
known as one of three people nationwide
capable of undertaking such a restoration
project. Her name was Constance 'Connie'
the aid of dentists drills, various brushes
and chemicals, as well as native elements
such as resins, soils and plants for dyes,
she was able to imitate or duplicate the
original 'paints' used by the original
'artists'. After roughly six weeks, she and
her aide completed the restorations. After
which time, the county and BLM moved the
roadway a little farther away from the panel
to enable them to build fencing, pathways
and information kiosks.
year or so ago, some moron wrote something
on the panel with charcoal, then after
finding out the law was after him tried to
use mud to clean it off. They hired Connie
to come back and get rid of the damage, and
while she was there she did a little
touching up of some of the previous
did catch the guy and he was prosecuted. And
I was glad to hear he got quite a hefty fine
out of it.
art cannot be dated accurately by any
technique presently known. As can be seen from
Newspaper Rock in Canyonlands National Park,
the petroglyphs vary from several thousand
years old to three hundred years ago or
less...note the Indian on a horse. The Ute
Indians were the earliest Indians to have
horses in the canyonlands area, and that
wasn't until after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.
The first recorded Europeans to enter
southeastern Utah with horses and mules was
the Domingquez Escalante Expedition in 1776.
of Newspaper Rock
meaning and purpose of rock art remains a
mystery (Madsen). There is no universally
accepted interpretation among archaeologists.
Explanations range from a form of written
history to doodling. Only the artists knew the
meaning of the images.
addition to the prehistoric Native Americans,
the Ute, Paiute, and Goshute created rock art.
The historic Shoshone rock art is limited, and
concentrates on geometric patterns, especially
concentric circles and geometric scratches on
rock faces (Stone). Modern Numic (Shoshone)
groups do not know its meaning and hunting
magic is not important to them.
Designs - Cottonwood Canyon
rock art, a unique artifact left by the
Fremont Indians are clay figurines. The small
figures that resemble people, often showing
intricate details, such as ear bobs,
necklaces, clothing, hair and facial
decorations, and sexual characteristics. The
purpose of the figurines is unknown, but they
were cared for with such great reverence that
it indicates a religious significance. The
Fremont Indians had outside ceremonial places
for small gatherings, but they did not build
A.D. 1350, the Fremont culture was gone from
the Great Basin and northern Colorado Plateau.
The abandonment started as early as 950 A.D.
in the northeastern edge of Utah with the
Uinta Fremont. After the Fremont Indians left,
the canyonlands were unoccupied for hundreds
of years. The historical Native Americans of
the Great Basin and northern Colorado Plateau
are relatively recent arrivals (Stone).
is still a question of what happened to the
Fremont Indians. Some Archeologists believe
the Fremont Indians were starved out, or
forced out to the north and east. The evidence
is not conclusive, but Barnes states that the
nomadic Fremont Indians were partially
responsible for the Anasazi abandoning the
four corners area. This seems reasonable, what
is not reasonable is an aggressive, nomadic
culture is going into the Rocky Mountains or
Great Basin deserts when there is a readily
obtainable food source to the South.
postulates the Uintah Fremont become the Ute
Indians. In the cliff dwelling, the Anasazi
were safe, but from there they could not
protect the crops on the plateaus or the
valley floors. The pacifist farmer's fields of
corn, squash, and beans were easy targets for
Fremont raiding parties.
postulates the Fremont Indians merged with a
band of Shoshone and become the historic Ute
Indians, which also seems reasonable. Ute
Indians raided the Paiute and Goshute tribes
for slaves into the mid-eighteen hundreds.
Navajo and the Apache arrived in the southwest
between the fourteenth and fifteenth century.
Anthropologists who specialize in languages
believe these southward-drifting nomads were
of Athabascan stock, from northwestern Canada
and the Alaskan interior. The Paleo-Athabascab
tribes came to America across the Bering
Strait in a second wave of migration around
6000 B.C. (Stone, Dillehay).
Navajo claim much of the Anasazi lands and
some of that which was occupied by the Fremont
Indians. A series of treaties imposed upon the
Hopi and Navajo by the Federal Government has
led to a territorial dispute rooted in more
than 500 years of cultural history.
you for your time,