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Desert Archaeology -
Desert Indian Culture
Petroglyphs - Rock Art
Rock art comes in two varieties, petroglyphs and pictographs. The difference between the two types is the
manner in which they were made. Petroglyphs were pecked into the surface of the rock. Pictographs were
painted on the rock. A coating of dark "desert varnish" on lighter sandstone provides the perfect medium
for petroglyphs, which are the most common of the two types of rock art found.
First InhabitantsArcheologists do not know for certain how long people have lived in ...
Rock ArtOne evidence of Native Americans inhabiting the Mojave Desert is the ...
Meaning of Rock ArtAlthough the specific meaning of rock art may never be known, it can be ...
Animal FiguresAnimal figures may depict the spirit helpers of the shaman, which ...
Human FiguresHuman figures may portray the shaman in their supernatural realm or ...
Geometric ShapesGeometric designs are the most common petroglyphs possibly representing ...
Environmental SymbolsSimple elemental symbols for rain and the sun can be found ...
Petroglyph PhotosThe following photo tours are presented as examples of petroglyphs in generalized regional areas. They are not intended to provide the location of, or directions to any site. Some sites are well-known and visited often, others are not. If you would like to experience a pristine site for yourself, I highly recommend the China Lake guided tours provided by the Maturango Museum in Ridgecrest, CA. With thousands of petroglyph and habitation sites throughout the Mojave Desert, this selection is in no way to be considered a complete or comprehensive list.
Petroglyph and Pictograph Photosalso see...
Tomo Kahni - West Mojave
Winter Home of Kawaiisu Indians
There are many things that can add to a good experience visiting an archaeological site. Most important is leaving with the knowledge that you have taken part in learning about the past and have left the area in good condition for others to enjoy. The Arizona State Historic Preservation Office assembled a set of ethics for visiting archaeological sites. Following these tips will enhance your own experience and also that of the visitors who come after you.
Please Don't Touch
Rock art is both enduring and fragile. It has lasted hundreds of years; yet many panels have been recently defaced by graffiti.
Climbing on panels can also damage the art, as can attempts to embellish the petroglyphs for photographic purposes. These practices are destructive and should not be done.
Even the oils from our hands can damage these relics from ancient times, please refrain from touching them.