Petroglyphs are images created by removing part of a rock surface by incising, picking, carving, or abrading, as a form of rock art. Outside North America, scholars often use terms such as "carving", "engraving", or other descriptions of the technique to refer to such images. Petroglyphs are found worldwide, and are often associated with prehistoric peoples. The word comes from the Greek prefix petro-, from πέτρα petra meaning "stone", and γλύφω glýphō meaning "to carve", and was originally coined in French as pétroglyphe.
The term petroglyph should not be confused with petrograph, which is an image drawn or painted on a rock face. Both types of image belong to the wider and more general category of rock art or parietal art. Petroforms, or patterns and shapes made by many large rocks and boulders over the ground, are also quite different. Inuksuit are also unique, and found only in the Arctic (except for reproductions and imitations built in more southerly latitudes).
Another form of petroglyph, normally found in literate cultures, a rock relief or rock-cut relief is a relief sculpture carved on "living rock" such as a cliff, rather than a detached piece of stone. While these relief carvings are a category of rock art, sometimes found in conjunction with rock-cut architecture, they tend to be omitted in most works on rock art, which concentrate on engravings and paintings by prehistoric or nonliterate cultures. Some of these reliefs exploit the rock's natural properties to define an image. Rock reliefs have been made in many cultures, especially in the ancient Near East. Rock reliefs are generally fairly large, as they need to be to make an impact in the open air. Most have figures that are larger than life-size.
Stylistically, a culture's rock relief carvings relate to other types of sculpture from period concerned. Except for Hittite and Persian examples, they are generally discussed as part of the culture's sculptural practice. The vertical relief is most common, but reliefs on essentially horizontal surfaces are also found. The term relief typically excludes relief carvings inside natural or human-made caves, that are common in India. Natural rock formations made into statues or other sculpture in the round, most famously at the Great Sphinx of Giza, are also usually excluded. Reliefs on large boulders left in their natural location, like the Hittite İmamkullu relief, are likely to be included, but smaller boulders described as stele or carved orthostats.
Some petroglyphs might be as old as 40,000 years, and petroglyph sites in Australia are estimated to date back 27,000 years. Many petroglyphs are dated to approximately the Neolithic and late Upper Paleolithic boundary, about 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, if not earlier, such as Kamyana Mohyla. Around 7,000 to 9,000 years ago, other precursors of writing systems, such as pictographs and ideograms, began to appear. Petroglyphs were still common though, and some cultures continued using them much longer, even until contact with Western culture was made in the 19th and 20th centuries. Petroglyphs have been found in all parts of the globe except Antarctica, with highest concentrations in parts of Africa, Scandinavia, Siberia, southwestern North America, and Australia.
Many hypotheses explain the purpose of petroglyphs, depending on their location, age, and subject matter. Some many be astronomical markers, maps, and other forms of symbolic communication, including a form of proto-writing. Petroglyph maps may show trails, symbols communicating time and distances traveled, as well as the local terrain in the form of rivers, landforms, and other geographic features. A petroglyph that represents a landform or the surrounding terrain is known as a geocontourglyph. They might also have been a by-product of other rituals: sites in India, for example, have been identified as musical instruments or "rock gongs".
Some petroglyph images probably have deep cultural and religious significance for the societies that created them; in many cases this significance remains for their descendants. Many petroglyphs are thought to represent some kind of not-yet-fully understood symbolic or ritual language. Later glyphs from the Nordic Bronze Age in Scandinavia seem to refer to some form of territorial boundary between tribes, in addition to possible religious meanings. Petroglyph styles has local or regional "dialects" from similar or neighboring peoples. Siberian inscriptions loosely resemble an early form of runes, although no direct relationship has been established. They are not yet well understood.
Petrogylphs from different continents show similarities. While people would be inspired by their direct surroundings, it is harder to explain the common styles. This could be mere coincidence, an indication that certain groups of people migrated widely from some initial common area, or indication of a common origin. In 1853, George Tate presented a paper to the Berwick Naturalists' Club, at which a John Collingwood Bruce agreed that the carvings had "... a common origin, and indicate a symbolic meaning, representing some popular thought." In his cataloguing of Scottish rock art, Ronald Morris summarized 104 different theories on their interpretation.
More controversial explanations of similarities are grounded in Jungian psychology and the views of Mircea Eliade. According to these theories it is possible that the similarity of petroglyphs (and other atavistic or archetypal symbols) from different cultures and continents is a result of the genetically inherited structure of the human brain.
Other theories suggest that petroglyphs were carved by spiritual leaders, such as shamans, in an altered state of consciousness, perhaps induced by the use of natural hallucinogens. Many of the geometric patterns (known as form constants) which recur in petroglyphs and cave paintings have been shown by David Lewis-Williams to be hardwired into the human brain. They frequently occur in visual disturbances and hallucinations brought on by drugs, migraine, and other stimuli.
Recent analysis of surveyed and GPS-logged petroglyphs around the world has identified commonalities indicating pre-historic (7,000–3,000 BCE) intense auroras, or natural light display in the sky, observable across the continents.
The Rock Art Research Institute (RARI) of the University of the Witwatersrand studies present-day links between religion and rock art among the San people of the Kalahari Desert. Though the San people's artworks are predominantly paintings, the beliefs behind them can perhaps be used as a basis for understanding other types of rock art, including petroglyphs. To quote from the RARI website:
Using knowledge of San beliefs, researchers have shown that the art played a fundamental part in the religious lives of its San painters. The art captured things from the San's world behind the rock-face: the other world inhabited by spirit creatures, to which dancers could travel in animal form, and where people of ecstasy could draw power and bring it back for healing, rain-making and capturing the game.
Eight sites in Hong Kong:
Recently petroglyphs were found at Kollur village in Tamil Nadu. A large dolmen with four petroglyphs that portray men with trident and a wheel with spokes has been found at Kollur near Triukoilur 35 km from Villupuram. The discovery was made by K.T. Gandhirajan. This is the second instance when a dolmen with petrographs has been found in Tamil Nadu, India. In October 2018, petroglyphs were discovered in the Ratnagiri and Rajapur areas in the Konkan region of western Maharashtra. Those rock carvings which might date back to 10,000 BC, depict animals like hippopotamuses and rhinoceroses which aren't found in that region of India.
During recent years a large number of rock carvings has been identified in different parts of Iran. The vast majority depict the ibex. Rock drawings were found in December 2016 near Khomeyn, Iran, which may be the oldest drawings discovered, with one cluster possibly 40,000 years old. Accurate estimations were unavailable due to US sanctions.
Petroglyphs are the most ancient works of art left by humankind that secretly provide an opening to the past eras of life and help us to discover different aspects of prehistoric lives. Tools to create petroglyphs can be classified by the age and the historical era; they could be flint, thighbone of hunted quarries, or metallic tools. The oldest pictographs in Iran are seen in Yafteh cave in Lorestan that date back 40,000 and the oldest petroglyph discovered belongs to Timareh dating back to 40,800 years ago.
Iran provides exclusive demonstrations of script formation from pictogram, ideogram, linear (2300 BC) or proto Elamite, geometric old Elamite script, Pahlevi script, Arabic script (906 years ago), Kufi script, and Farsi script back to at least 250 years ago. More than 50000 petroglyphs have been discovered, extended over all Iran's states.
One of the characteristics of Iran's petroglyphs is the continuity of existence of prehistoric marks on the ancient pottery and bronze sculptures that reveal the impressiveness of petroglyphs of the facades of caves and rocks reflected on ancient work of arts.
This continuity can be traced from eighth millennium BCE by the potteries in Ganj Darreh near Harseen in Kermanshah state, to third and first millennium BCE, considering the bronze period in Lorestan. There is a unique similarity between petroglyph marks and prehistoric potteries as if all these works are done by a sole artist.
The oldest reliably dated rock art in the Americas is known as the "Horny Little Man." It is petroglyph depicting a stick figure with an oversized phallus and carved in Lapa do Santo, a cave in central-eastern Brazil and dates from 12,000 to 9,000 years ago.
Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) is a school district based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Founded in 1891, APS is the largest of 89 public school districts in the state of New Mexico. In 2010 it had a total of 139 schools with some 95,000 students, making it one of the largest school districts in the United States. APS operates 89 elementary, 27 middle, and 13 high schools, as well as 10 alternative schools. They also own the radio station KANW and co-own the TV stations KNME-TV and KNMD-TV along with the University of New Mexico.Anubanini rock relief
The Anubanini petroglyph, also called Sar-e Pol-e Zohab II or Sarpol-i Zohab relief, is a rock relief from the Isin-Larsa period (circa 2300 BC or early second millennium BC) and is located in Kermanshah Province, Iran. The rock relief is believed to belong to the Lullubi culture and is located 120 kilometers away from the north of Kermanshah, close to Sarpol-e Zahab. Lullubi reliefs are the earliest rock reliefs of Iran, later ones being the Elamite reliefs of Eshkaft-e Salman and Kul-e Farah.Barnesville Petroglyph
The Barnesville Petroglyph is a well-known petroglyph site in the eastern part of the U.S. state of Ohio. Located approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) southwest of the village of Barnesville in Belmont County, the petroglyphs have been known both by archaeologists and the general public since the 1850s or earlier. Although the site was significantly damaged during the twentieth century, it is still a significant archaeological site; as a result, it has been named a historic site.Castle Gardens Petroglyph Site
The Castle Gardens Petroglyph Site is a 6-mile (9.7 km) by 1-mile (1.6 km) region of vertical cliff faces in Fremont County, Wyoming, with extensive petroglyph images incised in the rock faces. The glyphs include images of water turtles and circular shields, as well as human and animal figures. The figures with circular shields are particular to the area, and are known as Castle Gardens Shield style images. A consensus of researchers is that the figures were carved by Athabaskans related to the Navajo and Apache, some time between 1000 AD and 1250 AD. The site is being developed by the Bureau of Land Management, and may be visited.The site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 16, 1969.Coso Rock Art District
Coso Rock Art District, containing the Big and Little Petroglyph Canyons, is a rock art site containing over 100,000 Paleo-Indian and/or Native American Petroglyphs. The Coso Range is between the Sierra Nevada and the Argus Range. Indian Wells Valley lies to the south of this location. This north-south trending range of about 400 square miles (1,000 km2) consists of rhyolitic domes and outcrops of volcanic rock. Also known as Little Petroglyph Canyon and Sand Tanks, Renegade Canyon is but one of several major canyons in the Coso Range, each hosting thousands of petroglyphs (other locations include Haiwee Springs, Dead End Canyon, and Sheep Canyon). The majority of the Coso Range images fall into one of six categories: bighorn sheep, entopic images, anthropomorphic or human-like figures (including animal-human figures known as pattern-bodied anthopomorphs), other animals, weapons & tools, and "medicine bag" images. Most of the Coso Range is on the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, where visitation is restricted, vandalism is low, and preservation is most likely. China Lake is located near the towns of China Lake and Ridgecrest, California. There are several other distinct canyons in the Coso Rock Art District besides the Big and Little Petroglyph Canyons. The most popular subjects are bighorn sheep, deer, and antelope. Big and Little Petroglyph Canyons were declared a National Historic Landmark in 1964. In 2001, they were incorporated into a larger National Historic Landmark District, called Coso Rock Art District.A November 2007 Los Angeles Times' Travel feature article includes it within a top 15 list of California places to visit. The area was also mentioned in Groupon's "10 Most Unique Autumn Festivals in the Country" as a part of the Ridgecrest Petroglyph Festival.Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve
The Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve, formerly known as the Deer Valley Rock Art Center, and also known as the Hedgpeth Hills Petroglyph Site and the Sonoran Desert Preserve, is a 47-acre archaeological site containing over 1500 Hohokam, Patayan, and Archaic petroglyphs visible on 500 basalt boulders in the Deer Valley area of Phoenix, Arizona. The petroglyphs are between 500 and 7,000 years old, and at least one source dates some of the petroglyphs to 10,000 years ago. The site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, and it was also listed with the Phoenix Points of Pride. The preserve and museum are operated by the ASU Center for Archaeology + Society.
The museum was designed by Will Bruder and was constructed on the site in 1994.Frank Klepacki
Frank Klepacki is an American musician, video game composer and sound director, best known for his work on the Command & Conquer series. Having learned to play drums as a child, he joined Westwood Studios as a composer when he was 17 years old. He has scored several games there, including the Lands of Lore series, Westwood Studios' Dune games, The Legend of Kyrandia series, Blade Runner, and the Command & Conquer series. His work in Command & Conquer: Red Alert won two awards.
He lives in Las Vegas, where he has shaped a solo career and played and produced for several local bands. His personal and band work touches upon several genres, including orchestral, rock music, hip hop music, soul music, and funk. He has dubbed the style of music he writes as "Rocktronic". His work has appeared in various media, including the Spike TV program The Ultimate Fighter.
Klepacki is currently the audio director of Petroglyph games, where he scored Star Wars: Empire at War. Klepacki was contacted to score Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars, but was too busy with Petroglyph to take the project, and declined to mention the offer. Klepacki composed three songs, including "Hell March 3", for Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 by EA Los Angeles. His solo CD entitled Viratia is packaged with a comic he helped produce.Greaser Petroglyph Site
The Greaser Petroglyph Site is located on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management in eastern Lake County, Oregon. The designs were scraped into a basalt boulder by Native Americans perhaps 12,000 years ago. No one knows the meaning of the designs. Because of its unique archaeological and cultural significance, the Greaser Petroglyph Site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.Legend Rock
Legend Rock Petroglyph Site is located in Hot Springs County, Wyoming, 20 miles northwest of Hot Springs State Park (which is located in Thermopolis, Wyoming). Legend Rock is a petroglyph site which features hundreds of individual petroglyphs spread across the face of the rock. Although a handful of the rock's etchings have variously been eroded and defaced, a wide majority have been preserved for public viewing. The nearly 300 individual petroglyphs feature some of the oldest and best examples of Dinwoody rock art in the world. The origins of the petroglyphs are still subject to debate. The site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 5, 1973. and it is preserved by the state of Wyoming as a state historic site.Leo Petroglyph
The Leo Petroglyph is a sandstone petroglyph containing 37 images of humans and other animals as well as footprints of each. The petroglyph is located near the small village of Leo, Ohio (in Jackson County, Ohio) and is thought to have been created by the Fort Ancient peoples (possibly AD 1000–1650). The area in which the sandstone petroglyph was found is on the edge of an unglaciated Mississippian sandstone cliff 20–65 feet high. To this day, the meanings of the drawings are unknown. On November 10, 1970, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The site is maintained by the Ohio History Connection.Millstone Bluff
Millstone Bluff is a natural bluff in Pope County, Illinois, United States, located near the community of Glendale. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places because of its archaeological significance, Millstone Bluff is one of three National Register sites in Pope County, along with the Golconda Historic District and part of the Kincaid Mounds State Historic Site.The bluff is home to a prehistoric Native American settlement used by Mississippian cultures. The settlement site is little more than depressions sitting atop the bluff, which lies within the Shawnee National Forest. The United States Forest Service controls an interpretive trail to the site. Aside from the remains of the Mississippian settlement, the bluff contains a prehistoric stone box cemetery, a rock art site, and a Late Woodland stone fort.Petroglyphs at this site include two thunderbirds, pipes, axes, a spider-like creature, turkey tracks, a humanoid form, and the cross and circle motif common to other petroglyph sites in southern Illinois.Petroglyph Games
Petroglyph Games is a video game developer and publisher based in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States. The company was formed by the last group of ex-Westwood Studios employees who resigned when Westwood Pacific was shut down by Electronic Arts in 2003, effectively assimilating Westwood Studios into the EA Pacific studios in Los Angeles to form EA Los Angeles.Petroglyph company's founding members worked on Command & Conquer, Earth & Beyond and Dune II.Petroglyph National Monument
Petroglyph National Monument stretches 17 miles (27 km) along Albuquerque, New Mexico's West Mesa, a volcanic basalt escarpment that dominates the city's western horizon. Authorized June 27, 1990, the 7,236 acre (29.28 km2) monument is cooperatively managed by the National Park Service and the City of Albuquerque. The western boundary of the monument features a chain of dormant fissure volcanoes. Beginning in the northwest corner, Butte volcano is followed to its south by Bond, Vulcan, Black and JA volcanoes.
Petroglyph National Monument protects a variety of cultural and natural resources including five volcanic cones, hundreds of archeological sites and an estimated 24,000 images carved by Ancestral Pueblo peoples and early Spanish settlers. Many of the images are recognizable as animals, people, brands and crosses; others are more complex. Their meaning was, possibly, understood only by the carver. These images are the cultural heritage of a people who have long since moved into other areas and moved on through history for many reasons. The monument is intended as a protection for these lands and sites from and for visitors to see and appreciate for generations to come. The National Monument is managed in a manner that allows recreational use. The monument has four major sites that visitors can access, Boca Negra Canyon, Rinconada Canyon, Piedras Marcadas Canyon, and the Volcano Day Use trails.Sloan, Nevada
Sloan is an unincorporated community with a population of 105 (as of the U.S. Census 2010) in Clark County, Nevada, situated 18 miles southwest of Las Vegas. It is named for its limestone dolomite carnotite and was first settled in 1912 under the name Ehret, NV; named for the founders family name, but changed its name to Sloan on September 11, 1922. It is known for its canyon and its Sloan Canyon Petroglyph Site, Petroglyph Canyon, Black Mountain, and is mostly located within the North McCullough Wilderness Area and is adjacent to the McCullough Range. It contains well-preserved petroglyphs and several hiking trails that allow visitors to photograph the petroglyphs. Sloan is also home to the George W. Dunaway Army Reserve Center which officially opened in April 2015, which is a large military area not open for public. 2.7 miles west of Sloan was the site of the Bonanza Air Lines Flight 114 accident, which killed 29 people. Most of the residential areas are located on the main street, Sloan Road, and other smaller roads such as Arville Street, Hinston Street, and Roark Avenue. It is adjacent to the Interstate 15 in Nevada. To get here from Las Vegas, take Interstate 15 south and take exit 25 at Sloan. On Las Vegas Boulevard, turn right for the residential areas and George W. Dunaway Army Reserve Center, while turn left and follow Las Vegas Boulevard for 0.1 mile to reach the road leading to Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area. Following the power line road is treacherous. A faster, safer, and brand new paved road through the Henderson neighborhood of Anthem takes you to the Sloan Canyon visitors center and trailhead to the Petroglyphs.Tolar Petroglyph Site
The Tolar Petroglyph Site is an archeological site in Sweetwater County, Wyoming. The site includes a sandstone rock formation with 32 panels of petroglyphs running for 150 feet (46 m) along the rock face. Many of the illustrations are of horse-mounted people of the Plains Indians in historical times. Other motifs include the turtle motif, spirit bear and shield-carrying warriors.The site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 30, 2014.Torrey Lake Petroglyph District
The Torrey Lake Petroglyph District extends for about 3.2 miles (5.1 km) along Torrey Creek in Fremont County, Wyoming. The site includes about 175 petroglyphs, as well as eleven lithic scatters and a sheep trap. The petroglyphs are in the Interior Line Style, or Dinwoody style, consistent with other rock at in central Wyoming. Site investigations have uncovered a number of petroglyphs that had previously been hidden under lichen. The site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 4, 1993.V-Bar-V Heritage Site
The V-Bar-V Heritage Site is the largest known petroglyph site in the Verde Valley of central Arizona, and one of the best-preserved. The rock art site consists of 1,032 petroglyphs in 13 panels. Acquired by the Coconino National Forest in 1994, the site is protected and kept open to the public by the US Forest Service. Volunteers from the Verde Valley Archaeological Society and the Friends of the Forest provide interpretive tours and on-site management.A visitor center, restroom and bookstore, operated by the Forest Service and the Arizona Natural History Association, is located on site. The fenced petroglyph site is an easy half-mile walk from the parking lot. For most of the year, there is a resident on-site custodian.Water glyphs
Water glyphs are a recurring type of petroglyph found across the American southwest, but primarily in southern Utah, northern Arizona, and Nevada. The symbols are thought to be of ancient origin, (perhaps created by the Ancient Pueblo Peoples), and have been dated via x-ray fluorescence to around 2,000 years. Classification as a water glyph requires the presence of certain distinctive characteristics including both visual elements and location. Although the glyphs have likely been previously noted by local ranchers and farmers, the recurring pattern was first documented in 1997To date, more than 370 instances of these petroglyphs had been cataloged in an extensive GIS study.White Tank Mountains
The White Tank Mountains are a mountain range located in central Arizona. The mountains are on the western periphery of the Phoenix metropolitan area, primarily flanked by the suburban cities of Buckeye to the southwest, and Surprise to the northeast. The mountain range is home to the White Tank Mountain Regional Park and is a regional recreation hub.
The range, often referred to simply as the White Tanks, is a moderate-sized mountain range whose peaks rise to an elevation around 4,000 feet (1,219 m). The range consists of a series of numerous ridges and canyons, and as such, lacks a single, prominent peak. The highest point in the range, at an altitude of 4,083 feet (1,244 m), is Barry Goldwater Peak.The mountain range was formed through tectonic activities as part of a detachment fault sometime in the mid-Tertiary period, about 30 million years ago. As a fairly young (in geologic terms) mountain range, it has not been subject to the forces of erosion for long and retains an extremely rugged topography composed of rocky fault ridges and deep canyons. During seasonal heavy rainfall, accumulated water tends to rush rapidly through the steep canyons, over time scouring out a number of depressions or "tanks" in the white granite near the base of the mountains. These white tanks are the source of the mountains' name.