Graffiti-Nuthin’ new-Petroglyphs

Mary Connealy Header 

As you know, I go along, researching for my books and sometimes I’ll read something and right away, our beloved readers on Petticoats and Pistols come to  mind. And then, me being me, I look at what I’ve found and become inexplicably sarcastic.


I’m not sure why I do this. Personally, I blame my father. The man just had something funny to say about everything. I believe I got in the habit of trying to top him. So, in summation, it’s NOT MY FAULT. (I blame THAT reaction on my little brother).

So I found these rock paintings and/or petroglyphs. At first you see them and there is a reverence. They are very ancient, like messages passed down in stone from a people who didn’t write words, but could still tell their stories.

Others lower their voices, speak in hushed, respectful tones. I think, “Wow, graffiti is nuthin’ new. You darned kids, get offa my lawn. Put down that can of spray paint! I’m calling your mother!”

ninemileWhat do you suppose prompted ancient people to carve in stone seemingly useless things? I mean if you’re going to the trouble of getting  your chisel out, you’d think you’d use your time wisely. (Aside: Did ancient people have chisels?) Of course that one … thing … looks kind of like a man (left), with horns and a tail. Okay I can only think of one guy like that and it is a very…shall we say…fire and brimstone connection.

So yeah, if they see him, sure I get that they might need a painting. But why carve a herd of goats when one runs by the cave entrance every fifteen minutes? It’ll take hours, just wait at the door and point.

Did they worship the goat? Could the goat defeat He-Who-Has-Horns-And-A-Tail in a battle? Were they marking the cave as their territory during a war? Was it a symbol of relationship? “Marry me darling and as God as my witness, you’ll never be hungry again. I could go shoot a goat to prove it but let me carve one in stone instead.”

These are all questions asked by scientists, better known as He-Who-Has-Too-Much-Spare-Time. They spend decades trying to decipher the painting of the goat.

Petroglyphs_PBThis one on the left is found in the Grand Canyon. The most confusing part of this is…that looks a lot like an alligator to me. An alligator and carrots?? Carrots? Okay, sure they could’ve had carrots. But alligators in the Grand Canyon? Hello? No swamp to be found anywhere. Or no, wait, not an alligator. A man. A man with a tail, dancing. Doing the Hokey Pokey, I’d say. Put your tail in, put your tail out, put your tail in and shake it all about. Wow, it’s a wedding dance.

That’s lovely. But get a load of the swastikas. I’ve always heard that the swastika is a really ancient symbol that was perverted by the Nazis (they did one heck of a good job with that, didn’t they?) What else is interesting is how much the Not-swastika looks like the alligator man.  Really look at it a while. It’s not really a swastika, it’s a double swastika. Two arms, two legs, even a head. I find that fascinating. One arm up, one leg kicking. It’s not a MAN, it’s a cheerleader. This is right before the big game and someone’s written the Paleozoic version of Go Team Go on the wall. (Go Gators Go?) So maybe Swastika’s aren’t even anything important, just team spirit captured for a lifetime.

(seriously people you ought to see what I can do with a Rorschach Inkblog Test, it’s not pretty) 

Puebloan-dropWhich leads me to this one. All I see when I look at this are fingerprints on my wall. I’ve got this image of an ancient mother, chasing after her forty kids with a bottle of pre-historic windex and a sponge.

That’s right, it’s not meaningful and important. It’s untidy, just a MESS. What we now research and revere was probably gossiped about back then.

Over the stone picket fence, two old crones whispering, “Did you SEE Ork’s walls? She’s  a terrible housekeeper. If she can’t keep things neat they shouldn’t have had so many children. Why just the other day, her son knocked over my favorite swastika picture with his tail.”

Here are some quotes I found about petroglyphs and pictographs:

Scientists can tell how old the pictographs are, but not the petroglyphs. Native Americans used rock painting as a way to record their beliefs and observations of the world.  (Mary: Translation…meaningful, reverent, important…no mention of graffiti)

Rock art sites inspire visitors to wonder about the people who made the images and the messages they may have been trying to communicate. (Mary: Or get the windex, whatever)

Painting and Petroglyphs in the Grand Canyon. Seemingly random doodles (Mary: STOP! NO! Resist the urge to further analyze. You’ve got it right!)  These glyphs have played a prominent role in attempts to understand forager religious iconography. (Mary: But no, of course they couldn’t resist)

They were possibly intended to supernaturally increase success in the hunt. The mountain sheep drawings bolstered the “hunting magic” hypothesis. (no one’s talking about the horned dude. Nooooooooo it’s alllllllll about the The Husband Treegoats. I find that strange)

You may be surprised to find out I’m NOT invited to be a visiting lecturer at a university near me to talk about my petroglyph research. But I’m sure they’ve just lost my phone number. If I had it to do over again, I’d’ve carved it on their wall.                 The end.

Mary’s Website

So has anyone ever seen petroglyphs? There’s a much written upon stony wall in a bluff near our home. Most of it is just kids but the rumor is that Louis and Clark wrote on that wall, marking their trail.

Graffiti, for a good cause.

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Author of Romantic Comedy...with Cowboys including the bestselling Kincaid Brides Series

23 thoughts on “Graffiti-Nuthin’ new-Petroglyphs”

  1. Mary, thanks for lightening my day. I’m so envious of your sense of humor. I’ve always been way too serious. Your take on the cave art is very interesting. LOL Wonder if they were authors trying to write a book???? And what kind of story were they trying to portray? Maybe it was a fairy tale for their kids and instead of just telling the story they wanted to draw it out so they’d remember it?? Or maybe the kid pestered his mom and dad constantly too many times to tell it so they just got out the chisel and carved it on the wall. Just too many possible scenerios! I love it.

  2. Hi Mary, great post! I love the way you put things. I have seen things like this on walls before. There was an old railroad bridge where I grew up that was completed in the early 1900’s and there was always a lot of markings on those walls. I have often look at them an wondered just how long they have been there.

  3. Mary,

    I love the Petroglyphs. It is a connection to people of the past. The people of the past are a part of the Mother Earth. I am hoping that others take a look at this and realize that this is very important

    Thanks Mary for doing this wonderful post

    Walk in harmony,

  4. Oh, Mary, you had me laughing, laughing, laughing and so early in the morning — here on the West Coast. I echo your sentiments on the walls — how many times have I done that?

    And I loved the wedding dance.

    Great post, Mary, and thanks for cheering me up. 🙂

  5. Hi Mary, since I am like Linda, way too serious, you always get me laughing. I like petroglyphs, saw some on Kona in Hawaii. I like to think there are good messages herein, though.

    The Big Island is also famed for its own particular graffitti. The west side is almost entirely black lava, and folks take white rocks and make designs and leave their names.

    Thanks for the dose of cheer here! oxoxoxoxox

  6. We saw petroglyphs last year in AZ. There was a kind of hush–that’s so awesome feeling. The one I found the oddest was a bird that looked like a stork, and it had something in it’s beak that looked like a frog–or maybe it was a baby. 🙂

  7. I honestly think it has more to do with the location than the message. No doubt people were just leaving pictures everywhere back then. But the ones that were left in a sheltered spot survived.
    The rain and wind isn’t going to wash them away so they survive.

    One petroglyph was so deep in a cave they said they had to crawl on their hands and knees to get to it.

    Now who did that, huh? What were they thinking? Huh?

  8. Also, Petroglyphs were carved (chisel) into the rock. Pictographs were painted. The paleozoic version of spray paint no doubt.
    How many times in a person’s life do they get to use words like paleozoic or petroglyph. I’m feeling super duper smart right about now. 🙂

  9. Definition of Paleozoic:
    geological era between the Precambrian and the Mesozoic

    Don’t’cha just love science? So easily understandable. They make such an effort to be accessible to those of us who are seeking knowledge.

    Another definition:
    Of, belonging to, or designating the era of geologic time that includes the Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Mississippian, Pennsylvanian, and Permian periods and is characterized by the appearance of marine invertebrates, primitive fishes, land plants, and primitive reptiles.
    Silurian? wasn’t that one of the houses at Hogwart Academy?
    Devonian? Wasn’t that a sixty rock and roll hit?
    M-m-m-my Devonian?
    Pennsylvanian Period? Is there one of those?
    More research. More blog posts.

  10. Maybe the weather was bad and they were just bored lol. I think the one looks like a lizard. I wonder if they had much of a language at that time. ahhhh all the things we will never know the answers.

  11. A lizard or a gila monster. And those carrots, I’ve had a chance to think about. Now I’m seeing baby footprints.
    This is a prehistoric birth certificate. Try taking that sucker in when you need to get a driver’s license.

  12. Mary,
    One wonders if you take anything seriously. Good thing for us. I always enjoy your posts. Can’t help but go away with a smile.

    Maybe the University should have you lecture. The students would certainly be paying attention. The next class the professors could come in and use your comments as a jump off point to teach them the real meaning. You’d get them thinking and that is sometimes the hard part.

    Have a great rest of the day.

  13. Mary,
    The Puebloan (sp) one looks like someone fogged up the glass and started drawing in it 😉

    I think we have some of those petroglyphs in the Blue Ridge, but my dad usually arrests the culprits. Oh wait… 😉

  14. Pepper, LOL, see, graffiti. I told you so.

    What do you mean jump off point to teach them the REAL meaning, Patricia? I think I’m probably right and all those professors are just killing time now that they have tenure.

  15. LOL, Mary. We have lots of petroglyphs here in Utah, including, probably, some of the ones in your photos. I love ’em myself. Like to think they’re mostly hunting stories (we shot 4 goats and then ran into this big sucker with horns, you should seen ‘im!)
    What makes me really mad is the modern day idiots who paint their own graffiti over the petroglyphs and pictographs. They belong in jail.

  16. “Did you SEE Ork’s walls? She’s a terrible housekeeper…”

    I laughed so hard reading this that I scared my cats. Even then, some of us hated housework. (My thought about the petroglyph they could only reach on hands & knees: Wee Og snuck away and did it while Ork was yelling at one of the 39 other kids.)

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