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Rock Art

I was recently in Arizona and New Mexico, visiting friends and looking at lots of fabulous art in the galleries there.
Some of the most amazing artwork I saw- the origins of painting-were the pictographs of the Verde Valley estimated to be 1200 years old. Pictographs are paintings or drawings made on rock with colours made from mineral pigments and natural dyes from plants. The final few miles to get to the Palataki Red Cliffs out of Sedona were on dirt roads. There we saw the adobe dwellings and the pictographs of the Singua people.

The photo of the pictograph with the jagged line with light grey triangles below is believed to be an image of the mountain range behind. The sun on the summer solstice rises above the mountain at exactly the spot where the apex of one of these grey triangles points in the pictograph.

We also visited the Deer Valley Rock Art Center outside of Phoenix, where over 1500 petroglyphs, or rock carvings, were discovered in 1980, when a dam was being built to control flooding on Skunk Creek. Radiocarbon dating of petroglyphs at this site resulted in ages that range from about 700 years to more than 10,000 years ago.

No one is certain of the meaning of pictographs and petroglyphs. Certainly to do with communication of some kind. Some might indicate religious activity, some might indicate hunting. I wonder how the art work of today will be interpreted in another 10,000 years, if there is no accompanying artist's statement?


  1. Jan, the photos are magnificent. I'm sure images from the trip will be with you as you paint.


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