North America: Petroglyphs, Frescos / Valley of Fire State Park

Valley of fire state park 22.jpg
PHOTO: eliot_garvin 3626'22.39" 11430'53.73"
(Valley of Fire State Park) - ( 1935 ), 80 - - 610 790 141 2. " " -.  , 700 . . , 37000 . . , , - , , , . . , - ,  , 300 .. 1150 . ..



  Atlatl Rock - a large but somewhat isolated group of red rocks provides a striking backdrop to the main campsite in the state park; the other is a short distance away at Arch Rock. Together these total 73 sites (some with hookups). Ancient petroglyphs can be found at many places amongst the rocks, and even for those not staying overnight, the 2 mile road past the campgrounds makes for a scenic diversion.

Prehistoric users of the Valley of Fire included the Ancient Pueblo Peoples, also known as the Anasazi, who were farmers from the nearby fertile Moapa Valley. Their approximate span of occupation has been dated from 300 B.C. to A.D. 1150. Their visits probably involved hunting, food gathering, and religious ceremonies, although scarcity of water would have limited their stay. Fine examples of rock art left by these ancient peoples can be found at several sites within the park. There is an interesting panel of petroglyphs high up on the desert varnish. A series of well constructed ladders leads up to a viewing platform 40 ft high. Another section of petroglyphs can be found on the Mouse Tanks Trail. This panel features a figure holding an atlatl- the ancient tool that gave increased strength, speed and distance to a spear throw. The atlatl is said to have been developed in North America around 12,000 years ago. Atlatl Rock is considered one of the best prehistoric depictions of an atlatl in North America. It is not schematic, but more realistic. It is hard to see at first with the atlatl being just a thicker part of the spear in the hands of the figure held up as if to throw it. The ancient people who settled here could be either from the Great Basin tradition or the more southern Pueblo tradition. It is felt that the bow and arrow replaced the atlatl in the area before 500AD. So this panel is probably older than 1500 yrs.


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