Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Death Valley Petroglyphs: "Spectre Wash"

Spirit Bighorn
Once again out in the remote wild lands that compose most of Western Death Valley, we stumbled upon a site I have found little documentation on. Interestingly, it currently has no vandalism anywhere, though equally interesting was the lack of lithic scatter at the site, or flecks from point making by the natives.

The rock here is a porous basalt/andesite, and the petroglyphs here were very deep, and many were also clearly very very old. Many of them were completely varnished over, detectable only by standing at the right angle with the sun glare exposing the divots where the glyph is. 

Panels here were largely Coso in style, with a few bighorns and a few anthropomorphic people in the mix as well. More recent glyphs are probably from the Timbisha Shoshone, a few hundred to over a thousand years, while the oldest are likely at least 8,000 years old.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Death Valley Petroglyphs: "Lithos Canyon"

One of many large panels in the canyon.
Perched in a remote canyon in the high deserts above Death Valley National Park is a stunning remnant of peoples who were here long before us. This is one of the most impressive petroglyph sites I have visited; with the quiet, dark canyon walls backed by the towering granite mountains behind. Entire herds of pecked-in bighorn sheep of the Coso style, and endless anthropomorphs (human-like) and abstract designs, punctuated by spirals and sunbursts. The petroglyphs are peppered with signs of much later life; miner and rancher graffiti also appears in this canyon, and most of it is quite old, though overshadowed by the tremendous age and complexity of these ancient drawings whose meaning will probably never be known for certain.