Putting The Petroglyphs In Context

Rock Art Ranch in northeast Arizona has more than 3,000 petroglyphs. Researchers are studying the ranch and the surrounding area to understand who made the rock art and what these images meant to them.

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This image depicting a woman giving birth is one of the amazing petroglyphs at Rock Art Ranch.
This image depicting a woman giving birth is one of the amazing petroglyphs at Rock Art Ranch. Credit: Tom Brownold

Fall 2015: Putting The Petroglyphs In Context, By Tamara Stewart

Escaping from the blistering desert heat, we are drawn down the worn stone steps into Chevelon Canyon, toward the cool oasis of flowing water and lush vegetation, where we stare up in awe at the sandstone cliffs densely covered with ancient imagery. Known as The Steps, or Chevelon Canyon rock art site, the location boasts one of the largest concentrations of rock art in the middle Little Colorado River Valley of northeastern Arizona. The surrounding landscape is rich with evidence of the Paleo-Indian, Archaic, and Pueblo peoples who occupied the land for millennia. But until recently, the 5,000acre, privately-owned Rock Art Ranch and the adjacent public land had seen no professional research aside from rock art recording.

This past summer, a University of Arizona field school completed another season of work at, and around, the ranch, which is located about 25 miles southeast of Winslow. The field school has been surveying the ranch since 2011, and excavating a prehistoric pueblo known as Multi-Kiva, which is roughly 10 miles southeast of the ranch, since 2013. The focus of this project, which is codirected by E. Charles Adams, a University of Arizona archaeologist and a curator at the Arizona State Museum, and Richard Lange, a research specialist at the museum, is learning how people used this region over the past 13,000 years, and why they migrated to and from it. The researchers also want to know who made the rock art and the significance of these works to their creators.

Summary. Read More  in our Fall 2015 Issue of American Archaeology, Vol. 19 No. 3

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1 COMMENT

  1. Love the petroglyph of woman giving birth. I also love the relief of the bird figure above the woman’s head.

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