Friday, May 8, 2015

Art Of Ancients: Newspaper Rock, Utah

Newspaper Rock, Utah.
Returning to the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park in southeast Utah, it's hard not to stop by Newspaper Rock again on the way in.

I hate the name. To label a spectacular signpost of ancient native petroglyphs (figures pecked into the rock's surface) a "newspaper", as if they were mass published daily editions, is stupid.

The artwork, meanwhile, is world class heritage stuff. And on this day it was a rare rainy day in the canyon country high desert, which meant soft light on N--Rock.
"Newspaper" Rock artwork panorama.
And the rains had the greenery sprouted at the base of the sandstone lens that had been such a prominent place to signify--whatever it was they meant. Because they had no written language. So we don't really know what they meant. Their descendants in the modern pueblo tribes of New Mexico and Arizona know a lot. But not all. Anyway, they keep a lot of it secret.

So I stood and examined, stared, photographed once again. Most of the rock-pecked figures are quite bright, indicating relative newness. The ones with a horse or wheel are really new, since the horse wasn't introduced until the 1600s by the Spanish. Because of that indicator, most of these seem to be of that era. Not that weathered.

A couple more pondering: why so many bare feet? Why not hands instead?

The demon or monster like beings are a whole other story. Space aliens? Dreams or hallucinogenic visions?

Older rock art amid the cracks.
Much less spectacular, and maybe more revealing, are the older figures. Weathered, seemingly lower and off to the side. Toward the cracks. I think the most important stuff's there. Whatever it means.

© 2015 Stephen J. Krieg