The Glyphs

Picture MeaningsTime FrameAstronomical Alignments

The Western Rock Face:

When looking at this rock face, the viewer is on the west side of the cluster of rocks facing east.  The different pictures may indicate what the ancients used this site for.  The southern edge (right edge) aligns significantly well with winter solstice sunrise.

Eastern Rock Face:

 When looking at this rock face, the viewer is on the east side of the cluster of rocks, facing westward.  The adl adl is a symbol of a weapon used before 1000 AD.  This adladl is aligned relatively well with equinox sunset.  The pen here is just used to put size in perspective.

Picture Meanings  (What is rock art?)

Eastface:  Swastika, Lizard, Shaman
Westface:  AtlAtl

Glyph #1-- Swastika
This glyph appears to be a swastika.  It is not like other Native American swastika’s, for its arms are swirled, but its geometry supports our contention that it’s a swastika.  To the Native Americans, the swastika was the symbol of migration.  This intepretation is supprted by the fact that the Chemehuevi, a group of Native Americans most likely to have inhabited the area, were migratory groups of people.  They would only have stayed in that local for a few months during the winter.

The Swastika

Glyph #2-- Serpent/Lizard
We felt that this petroglyph most likely represented a lizard.  The diet of Native Americans living in the area consisted of desert plants and small game such as rabbit, lizards and other small reptiles.  The Native Americans often times had animals as god figures.  It could be that the lizard is an important god for the Chemehuevi.

The Serpent/Lizard Glyph

Glyph # 3-- Shaman
This glyph, when analyzed closely, appears to be two separate pictures.  We feel however, that they are connected.  The lower portion appears to be a person, perhaps a shaman with weapon in his hand.  The upper portion, appears to be a snake.  The Native Americans had special shamans for many different acttivities.  In the case of the Chemihuevi, one such shaman, the hunting shaman, would often kill game by throwing rocks at them.  This picture may represent that activity or perhaps another important ritual.  See Tribes section.

The Shaman and Snake above him.

Glyph # 4-- The Atlatl
    This petroglyph is a clear representation of an atlatl (although our picture is a poor indication of the clarity of the symbol).  An atlatl, being one of the main weapons used by the Native Americans of the area, may be used here as a symbol of warfare.  Perhaps, this petroglyph is a historical marker of an important victory of a particular Native American tribe.  This is not highly likely because the tribes thought to have inhabited the area in the time were largely not warring tribes.  A more likely possibility is that the glyphs symbolized the importance of hunting for the people.  It may be used to underline the vitality of the hunters during a particular season.  This season may be specified by astronomical alignments.  The atlatl's use during the time frame prior to 1000 BC also gives us important clues to the meanings of the glyphs.

Time Frame

Three aspect of the petroglyphs imply that they may have been created over two different time periods.
1.  The picture of the atlatl appears slightly older than the other glyphs.
    Since the atlatl was only as a weapon prior to 1000 AD, the glyph may well be older than the glyphs of the other rock face.  The color of the fungus surrounding the atlatl petroglyph was slightly different than the fungus on the glyphs of the swastika and the lizard, implying that the pictures were done at different times.
2.  The pictures are located on different rock faces.
    Perhaps, the atlatl glyph was already in place when the same tribe wanted to enhance the uses of the sacred place without erasing the importance attributed to the first glyph.
3.  The pictures may represent quite different aspects of Native American life.
    The atlatl is a sort of war and weaponry image, while the swastika and the shaman are more respresentative of migratory practices and rituals involved.

These clues indicate:
1.  We should most likely assume that these glyphs are separate symbols of separate events (should they be linked to astronomical events).
2.  Our hypothesis that the people were migratory has further support.  This site must have been quite important to the tribes of the area, if they continued to return to the site centuries after the first glyph was made.

Astronomical Alignments:

What they are:  (Archeoastronomy)

Many civilizations have used geographical and/or man-made landmarks to measure or mark celestial events.  Stonehenge and the Pyramid of Giza are among the most well known ancient monuments thought to have been used as astonomical observatories.  Many more smaller sites exist, though.  These sites mark celestial events which were important to the people of the region.  In some cases these sites are structures which are built with walls or windows which point in the angle at which a celestial rising or setting may occur.  In other cases, such as ours, these sites may be paintings or rock edges which were used to point to these same types of events.

Western face:

The most distinct line associated with the western face of the series of glyphs was actually the roughly straight, southern edge of the rock face  (See right edge of Western Rock face).  This edge appeared to be aligned at roughly 115° on the eastern horizon.  This line also lined up quite nicely with a few features of the landscape (link).  This value is quite close to the azimuth of winter solstice sunrise at 114°(link).  This high degree of accuracy suggests that

the ancients who painted these rocks may have used them to predict the coming winter solstice!

Eastern face:

The line of the adladl pictured in the petroglyph on the eastern face (See adladl) aligned with about 273° on the western horizon.  This angle did not align with any particular feature of the landscape, nor did the angle appear significantly similar to any of the angles of solstices.  However, equinox would occur at a similar azimuth, 270°(link).  This alignment could have been used as an indication for the ancients of another period of migration, or perhaps the alignment was meant to indicate when certain plants would be in season or when a certain hunting season began.

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Chemehuevi doing migratory dance with jimson weed!