Ranger Kathryn's Arches

March 25, 2011

Horseshoe Canyon: Treasury of Barrier Canyon Style rock art

This grouping: "Holy Ghost & Attendants." It is thought to be the earliest depiction of depth and perspective in rock art. The transparent figure is 7 feet tall and spatter-painted, possibly depicting a robe of fur.

The elongated spectral figures stared out at me with blank alien eyes, and I didn’t know who was watching whom. Arrayed on a panel along 200 feet of Navajo sandstone were dozens of anthropomorphs and animals painted onto the rock, mostly with iron oxide pigments. Late Archaic hunter-gatherers 4000 years ago made this special canyon their seasonal home on the nomadic circuit to collect and hunt. They had plenty of leisure time for their shaman-artists to create some of the most compelling rock art in North America.

I’ve had the privilege of hiking to Horseshoe Canyon’s panels seven times. Each trek brings new discoveries — fine hummingbirds hovering around shoulders, an abraded bighorn sheep herd, indented peck marks in the exact center of the chests of ten figures, or what appears to be a worshipper bending before a ‘man’ with remarkable wings. This place is not called “The Louvre of the Southwest” for no reason.

What part of our civilization will people four millennia hence find? Please comment; I’d like to know. (Sadly, all I can think of is the huge garbage island floating in the Pacific…)


  1. sadly, chert is not what they are going to find….we are such an inteligent species….

    Comment by john — March 25, 2011 @ 2:02 pm | Reply

  2. intelligent………

    Comment by john — March 26, 2011 @ 7:52 am | Reply

  3. In four millennia the major cities of our planet with be under water. The ceaseless activity of the ocean will have eroded all but the largest structures, but the rock piles will remain – testament to a species that forgot that irresponsible pursuit of freedom has consequences.

    Comment by leroque — March 26, 2011 @ 8:12 pm | Reply

  4. Tanning beds- which will be thought of as torture devices.

    Comment by Emily — November 12, 2014 @ 6:07 pm | Reply

  5. Dead electronics. Tablets and Smart Phones everywhere. They won’t be able to turn them on for years, and when they do, they will be filled with our culture: books, music, TV shows, movies… and pornography…

    Comment by savagegirl — November 12, 2014 @ 6:11 pm | Reply

  6. This cave painting is so cool! And I agree, huge garbage island. But, probably multiple, in more than just the Pacific Ocean.

    Comment by Kate — November 12, 2014 @ 8:05 pm | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: