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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Touching The Past

"Cerulean skies and deep vinaceous bands of sandstone become places of power. Pit houses dug in the earth and cliff dwellings hanging on ledges still house the Anasazi spirit. Listen. You may hear music inside their ancient earth architecture. I have - I think."
 Pieces of White Shell, Terry Tempest Williams
It's amazing how much we can learn about the Ancient Ones by sorting through their trash, tools and art. I'm no Archeologist, but that's how we've been getting in "touch" with prehistoric Native Americans here in southeast Utah. It begs the question of what my trash, tools and art would say about me if unearthed ten thousand years from now. "Crude" and "unrefined" come to mind. Oh well, I'll be long gone so no offense taken.

This hunt for ruins was a spur of the moment thing... a diversion with purpose to indulge on our way back home from Sedona. I wouldn't exactly call us aficionado's of Indian culture, but I did purchase a rather large two volume set of encyclopedias on prehistoric "Americans" of the southwest after a fascinating tour through Mesa Verde. All lathered up with excitement we headed off to backpack through artifact rich Grand Gulch, just a few miles north of our camp here in Valley of the Gods. I never did read the encyclopedias... the print was so small. 

This time we are winging it and it is proving to be hit and miss as we have no guide books with maps describing routes or ruins. The first day was a complete artifactual bust. Undeterred, we tried the next wash over (Butler) and after a couple of misses finally found archeological footing in side canyons that branched off from Butler to the west. There is "something" of interest in almost every canyon. On this day it was pictographs. 

With no authoritative reference Bobbie and I could only guess at meanings behind these rock etchings, or perhaps under the surface is a better way to put it.  on one panel there was a very long string of people standing side by side. I guessed that every time there was an addition to the "family" they added another drawing. If that's true then this was a pretty large group. Later I wondered if it was a ruse to frighten off would be attackers, "Hey, we are many, so don't even think about trying to take our stuff."

Many of the areas inhabited by the Anasazi were repeatedly abandoned and then reoccupied. Possible reasons include, pressure (attacks) from neighboring populations, drought and resource depletion. Early bands of inhabitants were smaller in number and more mobile... you might even say they were wanderers, like me, or vice versa...

Enjoy your weekend! Get out of the house and do something different, unexpected... refreshing!

Bobbie trying to make sense out of the "art" left by the Ancient Ones

Hand prints were popular

curve of the earth vantage point

I couldn't even venture a guess on the one horned image??? Person? Animal? The vertical series of hash marks could represent carved steps that give access to a cliff dwelling.

This panel had the long string of people, among other things... stretching a good 10 feet beyond what I captured in this photo

See, the smaller renderings of people could be new babies. What do you think?

Those snow capped mountains in the distance are our beloved San Juans. I like them better without snow.

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  1. Wow!
    Nice Picture.I think you are visit the many place and all the picture are superb.I love to see this article good blog i want to invest my all time at your blog thanks for sharing
    Earth Rods

  2. The mystery, voices and music of these ancient places can be heard, if we listen.

    I've heard Grand Gulch area is loaded with these kinds of sites. I obviously need to explore more.

  3. I've been enjoying your rambles in the CM area. This is one of my favorite panels in BW. Next time we are in UT we'll show you some other fantastic places in the area... not even the ranger at the VC will divulge. -scamp

  4. Mark,

    There are some wonderful etchings on the road (I can't remember the route) going to Torrey and through Capitol Reef NP. Also, one of the nicest rides I've taken is the climb up route 12 out of Torrey.
    I'm sure you've been to Torrey, as we seem to travlel to the same places, but if you haven't it's well woth the trip.


  5. Anieb,
    Thank you for your kind words... It's a pleasure to have you aboard the BCB.

    So much to see and learn, so little time.

    I will hold you too that... soon, I hope.

    We are kindred travelers... I know Torrey well and have explored Capital Reef. We liked it so much we almost moved there... It is another fine place to lose a month or two.

  6. The current offspring of those Ancient Ones now put those string of people standing side by side pictographs in the rear windows of their motor vehicle.

    I have always taken those to be "family" also but now need to consider the ruse to frighten off attackers aspect.


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