Preservation of Ancient Stone Carvings and Geoglyphs
A subject that is very dear to my heart is the preservation of ancient stone carving or Petroglyph sites, pictograph sites and geoglyphs. One of the largest obstacles is that many sites are not easily identified. Many times a person does not realize how old of an item they are looking at or even that it is an archaeological site. We need to increase everyone’s level of awareness while in the outdoors and back country so that identification of these sites and geoglyphs become second nature, let people know how to go about enjoying these areas with out destroying them and then spread the word far and wide to all who will listen.
Let’s start by identifying each one of these archeological features. This process can involve long detailed explanations so in an attempt to make the descriptions easily remembered I will keep it simple. Ancient stone carvings or Petroglyphs are areas where a design has actually been pecked out of the stone surface. Pictographs are areas where a design has either been drawn or painted on a stone surface. Geoglyphs are designs made on the ground by scarring the earth or arranging rock, stone, gravel or the earth itself to make the image. Geoglyphs are particularly hard to identify because of their size. If you are seeing only a portion of a large geoglyph you might not realize that this pile of stone or earth or combination is part of an image. If you come across a smaller geoglyph it is possible that it will look like a cairn that is often used to mark trails.
The safest way to make sure that you do not destroy any of our natural history is to be respectful of nature itself. Always stay on marked trails, leave an area they way you find it or in better condition and try to make as little impact as you can when traveling through the wilderness. When you are lucky enough to come across a drawing, carving or natural geoglyph sculpture enjoy it by taking picture, describe it in your journal or dedicate it memory. Resist the urge to carve your own mark, draw any additional images or move the stones or mounded earth around. By taking these simple steps we can not only leave the area as it is for others to enjoy but you will actually be preserving a piece of our history. Many of these sites are sacred spiritual areas. They are not being created anymore and if destroyed will be lost forever. Please give them the utmost respect and reverence.
There are several laws such as The Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979, Native American Graves Protection & Repatriation Act and The American Antiquities Act of 1906 in place to protect these sacred sites but only if we all do our part will preservation of these areas be achieved. So let’s all take some time to be aware of our surroundings, give these areas the respect they deserve and tell others what we have learned to help protect and preserve this colorful part of our history. It belongs to all of us. For more detailed information on identification and protection of these sites contact Native American Research and Preservation, Inc.
Ron White, stone carver and entrepreneur, has been carving stone since 1993, and is shown in more than 40 galleries across the US. Prior to beginning his work with stone carving Ron has worked extensively with leather, wood cabinetry and even jewelry. Learn more about Ron White and his work at www.derivedfromnature.com.