Petroglyphs of 9 Mile Canyon

Petroglyph panel with Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep

Petroglyph panel with Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep with their curved horns

As I wrote earlier, we drove to 9 Mile Canyon in Utah in October to see the petroglyphs. The scenery was beautiful and all of fall’s finest colors were blazing. For this blog post, I want to focus on the petroglyphs we saw.

The very famous Great Hunt panel

The very famous Great Hunt panel

This is a photo I took in 9 Mile Canyon. I put the red circles around three of the objects I wanted to point out. Starting on the left, we have an animal that doesn’t resemble the sheep or antelope in the panel. I can’t think of an animal (like an anteater) that stands that tall and has such a long nose. The second figure is even more mysterious. The antlers suggest a goat or antelope, but what’s up the even longer nose? It reminds me of an elephant with the “antlers” being his big ears, but were there ever elephants in the region that would become Utah? And on the right side we have the Great Hunter. We know he’s the best hunter because he’s so much bigger than the other ones. And, yes, that thing hanging down between his legs is a penis — just in case the viewer might think the Great Hunter was a woman.

Petroglyphs are made by taking a small, pointy stone and hitting it with a larger stone to chip away at the rock face to create stories about the things that were going on in the tribe’s daily life. It seems like the majority of the petroglyphs we saw illustrated hunting trips and the various animals living in the area. In many cases they showed the relationship between ancient man and their native wildlife.

The other method used to create these fascinating murals is by pictographs. Instead of chipping away at the rock, the artist paints the objects of the story. Even though I did quite a lot of research, I couldn’t find a description of the materials pictograph artists used. Whatever it was, it has withstood the weather and other destructive forces for more than 2,000 years.

Could those be reindeer or just elk with really big racks?

Could those be reindeer or just elk with really big racks?

As I’ve done my research for a series of petroglyph paintings I’m planning to create, I’ve seen other, very strange, beings. These petroglyphs and pictographs are found more in the western part of the country, often in Utah.

In addition to the people, we saw animals I couldn’t identify.

These are two of the paintings I’ve finished for the Petroglyph Series I’m doing based on the petroglyphs I’ve seen in Utah and ones I’ve seen in books and on the Internet.

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