What are Petroglyphs? Definition: Petroglyphs are rock drawings, or stone carvings, that were often found in caves and created by ancient civilisations and are particularly associated with native-American artwork. Petroglyphs are usually created on surfaces such as cliff walls that are dark with desert varnish. The color of the desert varnish varies from shades of brown to black. The contrast between the dark rock on the surface and the underlying lighter rock enhances the visibility of the design. Petroglyphs consist of a design, motif, pattern or symbols engraved or carved on stone which express artistic or religious meanings, acknowledge special events or were created as a form of magic or mysterious Mythical creatures and monsters. The word comes from the Greek words 'petros' meaning stone and 'glyphic' meaning to carve. For those interested in working with stone please refer to the following articles:
Petroglyphs are created by chipping, carving, engraving, scraping or grinding the surface of rocks (called the outer patina) to reveal a lighter rock of stone beneath. The term 'pecking' is also used in creating Petroglyphs. Pecked petroglyphs are produced by a process of indirect percussion, involving the use of a hammer in one hand and a chisel in the other. The above picture of Petroglyphs found in Utah illustrate how the technique was used and the resulting Petroglyphs, the following petroglyph illustrates s horned serpent. Antlers and horns signified spiritual power, especially when applied to animals that did not ordinarily have them such as Snakes and serpents.
Horned Serpent Petroglyph Rock Carving
Petroglyphs - Symbols and Signs at Chaco Canyon
The meanings of signs and the types of symbols shown in the picture of the following Petroglyphs at Chaco Canyon are extremely interesting. Chaco Canyon is located within the San Juan Basin of northwestern New Mexico and the vast Colorado Plateau. Chaco Canyon was inhabited by the Ancient Pueblo People, who are more commonly known as the Anasazi who inhabited Cliff Houses. The main figure of the man in the Petroglyph of the man is believed to be a Shaman who is connecting to the spiral symbol which was a powerful sun and life symbol. Current theories speculate that the position of the spirals on the Petroglyphs were of major importance and that at certain times of the year a shaft of light, referred to as the 'Sun Dagger', produced a 'light show' on the spiral symbols. These effects occurred the Summer and Winter Solstice and during the spring (vernal) and fall (autumnal) equinoxes and confirmed that these ancient people had significant knowledge of astrological signs. These times of the year were extremely important as they provided bench marks for when crops needed to be planted and when important sun rituals and religious ceremonies took place. For additional information refer to the Hopi Prophecy Rock.
Petroglyphs at Chaco Canyon
The Petroglyphs below feature Yei Symbols. The Navajo Yei Spirit is believed to mediate between humans and the Great Spirit and are usually shown carrying pine boughs or yucca strips. Depictions of Navajo Yei spirits are commonly found on Petroglyphs and Sand Paintings. Yei derives from the word Yeibicheii meaning the Holy People.
Petroglyphs - Picture Dictionary of Symbols and Signs
The meanings of signs and the types of symbols used by Native American Indians are fully illustrated and can be accessed via the Picture Dictionary of Symbols. The symbols dictionary provides information and origin of many symbols that are depicted in Petroglyphs and includes reference to Native American legends and the mythology of the ancient Mound Builders and the fantastic creatures and monsters that featured in their culture.
- Interpretation of Native American Petroglyphs
- Meaning, symbolism and the Petroglyphs
- Interpretation of Symbols and Native American Petroglyphs
- Native American Indians
- Petroglyphs, Signs and Symbols
Pictures and Videos of Native Americans
Discover the vast selection of pictures which relate to the History of Native Americans and illustrate many decorations and tattoos used by American Indians. The pictures show the clothing, tattoos, war paint, weapons and decorations of various Native Indian tribes that can be used as a really useful educational history resource for kids and children of all ages and a means to study their interpretation. We have included pictures to accompany the main topic of this section - Interpretation of Symbol. The videos enable fast access to the images, paintings and pictures together with information and many historical facts. All of the articles, such as the Petroglyphs, can be accessed via the Native Indian Tribes Index.