Thursday, April 26, 2007

Petroglyph National Monument

We quite enjoyed our foray into this park, but then again we're nerds. If you find yourself equally nerdy and curious, I've included some Wikipedia links for more information. Okay, okay PICTURES!

According to the placards arrayed throughout the site, it was considered a holy place where Native Americans (and later Spanish settlers) would go on faith quests, basically. The art pictured here is less representational than ritual. Sometimes we have no idea what they mean because no cultural artifact bears the same symbol. However, many symbols recur throughout the area, like the one pictured above.

This petroglyph was not dug as deep into the rock, but you should be able to distinguish a man with a mask over his left eye.

Such fluid lines on this little man. Love it.

We also learned that the cross was as symbol in the local Native American cultures long before the Roman Catholic Spaniards showed up. You can tell each culture's cross by whether it has an outline or not. This is a Native American cross; the Spanish would not have outlined it.

Another man, hanging out. I should really reprocess this picture, though, because it definitely doesn't match the tonality and color depth of the desert varnish well at all. Oopsies!

KITTIES! ON ROCKS! Although these were likelier to be jaguars than domesticated cats. Apparently, their range extended to Albuquerque, back in the day.

And you gotta love the modern graffiti. Was is worth it, Amanda '86?

For a pretty good primer on petroglyphs (stone carvings) see this Wikipedia article. Apparently, the reason you can get and retain these carvings is because of something known as "desert varnish," a darkened exterior which certain types of rock get in hot arid climates. This article seems to indicate that it's because of the rocks make-up as well as the interaction with the environment over time. When you scratch off the outer layer of varnish, it doesn't fill in again so your carving remains intact for centuries.

I highly recommend a visit. Maybe next week, I'll show you some images of the area itself and you'll notice as we did that it's not as easy/safe as most national parks. For one thing, you have to climb among all these rocks without many handholds and few stairs with handholds. I wore some adorable platform espadrilles which were TOTAL CRAP on those steep (and often tight) inclined spaces, but I didn't fall down and avoided going boom. I just wouldn't recommend flipflops.

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