Friday, October 19, 2007

We're in Moab, Utah, just this week, dividing our time between Arches National Park and Canyonlands. Today we visited the Wolfe Ranch, a one-room log cabin built by a veteran of the Civil War. Just up the hill from this historic place was a wall of petroglyphs that scientists estimate were created sometime between 1650 and 1850. Notice in the picture how the Paiutes are mounted on horses, with bighorn sheep and a dog. The drawing is lifelike, brightly painted, and very clear. Central Plains Indians rode horseback starting with the explorations of the Spanish in the 16th Century.

What fascinated me about this set of petroglyphs is in comparing them to petroglyphs we had seen at Capitol Reef National Park. This next picture shows petroglyphs painted some time between 700 and 1300 by the Fremont people. Some consider the Fremont People to be ancestors of the Anasazi or Puebloan peoples further south. Notice how much more abstract the drawings are -- although people and animals are clearly shown. Signs say we don't know much about the meanings of these petroglyphs, although additional information on these older petroglyphs is at as well as another article on decoding petroglyphs at by the controversial Martineau who was raised by Paiutes after being orphaned.

The country here is so beautiful, inspiring arches, magnificent mountains, sweeping vistas, and yet the land is also harsh, arid, dry desert, and difficult to live in. These drawings in stone, along with cliff dwellings help us understand the past, even if we cannot fully reconstruct it. Just one more picture (with more to come in WebShots) to show the amazing geography here. Today we climbed a "moderately strenuous" trail to Delicate Arch, over steep slick rock with ravens swooping down. A person stands underneath the arch in this picture; check the scale. It's monumental. Whew! Make it a good week. Beth

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