Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Antelope Hill Petroglyphs - SW Arizona

Antelope Hill is located in Southwest Arizona, next to the Gila river and has been visited and used for thousands of years. It is said that no particular tribe of Indians ever claimed ownership of the place, but many used the resources found there. This hill is composed of a particular type of sandstone, that is well suited to create grinding stones and other stone tools. It is not found elsewhere in the area. Some of those who used this hill left their markings. Many of the petroglyphs in the photos below are thousands of years old, while others are several hundred. In a general sense, the lighter a petroglyph is (when compared to the darker desert varnish on the rest of a rock), the newer it is.  

Tribes that have ties to this place are the Pima and Maricopa to the East; the Cocopah, Quechan and Mohave along the Colorado; the Tohono O'odham and Hid-Ced O'odham (desert tribes); and the Yavapi and Hopi to the north.

Approaching Antelope Hill. Note the lighter part on the very left hand side.

Here is a closer view of the lighter part. It has been mined for quite a while. I wonder how many artifacts were destroyed because of it. This is a disgrace in my mind.

This is a view near the ruined area. Some petroglyphs are in the foreground.

Several human figures and possibly an atlatl. The large figures are 2-3 feet in height. As you can see in this photo, there are petroglyphs on top of older petroglyphs.

When arrows are pointing tip to tip at each other, it usually signifies a battle, war, or some other type of conflict.  However, I wouldn't bet any money that this symbol is authentic. The lines and corners look a bit too perfect to me.

This rock appears to have a few cupules ground into it.

The symbol on the right is pretty common. The two circles and line, represent a conversation that took place between two parties. Variations in the circles and line give more information. At least that is what my granny told me!

A man, a man/animal (anthropomorphic) and a capital B maybe? At first I thought the B was an initial, but it seems to not be as worn as the other two. I guess it could be a bit of "historical graffiti."

My wife and I split up when there is a lot of ground to cover.

A food grinding surface called a metate or slick. This is the only whole one that we saw. There are others, but they are all badly broken or pulverized. I didn't find anything here that would lead me to believe that this was ever a habitation site. Because of the sandstone here, various tribes quarried and then made "portable" grinding surfaces and other stone tools, right on the spot. The failed attempts were just left here. It's hard to tell what is what though, because the entire mountain is eroding and sliding down the slope. You can see that in almost every photo.

A pretty good sized rock shelter. There was so much loose rubble on, in and around it, that I pretty much only stuck my head in.

An old railroad bridge crossing the Gila River.

My wife trying not to start a rock slide (with her in it). Climbing up and down these slopes was treacherous. Next time we'll be better prepared and will go to the top. 

Here is a good example of how everything is making its way down the slope.

If you enlarge this photo, it is easy to see the natural destruction.

Instead of the modern graffiti I expected to find (which was none), there were too many bullet holes to count. I counted 25-30 on the surface of this rock alone. Yes, there were petroglyphs on it also. They are now barely recognizable. The idiot bastards, that would do this...

This is the sandstone that the hill/mountain is made of. As you can see, erosion eventually causes the sandstone to lose its grip on other minerals and they migrate downhill. 

Maybe you can see the large rectangular design that was pecked or scraped into this rock. If not....

I used a red paint brush in MS Paint, to make the grid design show up better for you.

I adjusted the contrast a little bit so these petroglyphs would show up better. This group is so old that they are being covered over by desert varnish. By old, I mean thousands of years. These symbols were here for centuries before the first European stepped foot on this continent.  In fact, they still thought the earth was flat. It kills me to think that there are morons out there, who have no problem shooting this ancient history all to hell.

I love this rock! It looks like some kind of giant bird head.

This large boulder has more than a hundred symbols on it. If you look at the rock to the right, you can see that it broke off of another piece. I made a short search for it.

There was quite a bit of distance between them. Or maybe this piece broke off of the one beside it. So much movement on this slope, that it is hard to tell what goes with what.

This panel is very interesting. the shape to the far right is either a snake, or a stream/river. The symbol just right of middle is clearly a desert tortoise (at least to me). Last, but not least, the symbol just left of center looks like a half man/half bird, walking away (to the left), while holding something at arm's length. Or maybe, none of that is accurate...

Another anthropomorphic symbol. Part man, part snake? 

Historical graffiti


1849 - I can't read the name. Enlarge if you want to.

Freeland Neahr - 1908?  
I just decided to see if I could find out who this person was. I found him! He was a member of the local Cocopah tribe and was born and died in the same area. Wow! 



  1. The giant birdhead rock was cool.
    Is there a way to save the rocks with markings? If the area is being mined and destroyed, would it be better to remove the rocks to a place for preservation? Or is that just something no museum or otherwise is interested in doing?

  2. true historic graffiti is nice to find - especially cool you found the gent! the natural erosion and cracking of rocks is as expected. man's disregard and destruction is so sad.

  3. It is a shame that the area was mined, I can only imagine how much was destroyed. I did enjoy all the petroglyphs you were able to find..Wonderful photos and post.

  4. Your post for the day is totally fascinating -- as always, Pat!!! I have to admit I'm so envious of your ability to find and visit these places!! The good thing is that you share your adventures with us and for that I'm SO grateful!! Thank you!!

  5. LOVE that bird head rock! So interesting and exciting to be able to find info on the actual person whose name you found!

  6. Hi Pat, Despite the mining, you all did see lots of great petroglyphs and other things...

    Be careful walking on those loose rocks... I've been there --and it can be treacherous...

    Thanks for sharing. Glad to see you on FB.

  7. Alex J. Cavanaugh - I real life, that bird head was little spooky looking. I think the museums have already plundered and stolen all they can use.

    TexWisGirl - I really did get a thrill when I found information about the person. In some ways, the internet is amazing. You are fight about nature taking it's course.

    eileeninmd - It is a shame. I live in an area where things like this happened all the time. All in the spirit of "development." Actually, it was done in the spirit of some developer getting rich. Thanks Eileen!

    Sylvia K - Thanks so much Sylvia! I'm glad that you enjoy them.

    Ms. A - Me too! I was happily surprised to find the info.

    Betsy Adams - That is true and I still loved the place. More than once, I've found myself sliding rapidly down hill on my rear end (I did okay here though). Thanks Betsy!

  8. Just fascinating Pat! Imagine who was standing right where you were hundreds or thousands of years ago. Blows my mind. Sure does look treacherous. Great photos.

    P.S. Are you sure those bullet holes weren't from John Wayne? LOL

  9. I saw the 'fake' petroglyphs before I read the your text. The first thing that popped in my head was "how can this one be so perfect, it's like no other I've seen". It is pretty cool looking.

    There are so many cool photos and so much sad destruction.

  10. It's a stark, and yet beautifully captivating landscape!

  11. love the contrast between the blue and brown that you captured in first two photos, Pat

  12. Great photos. Too bad they were allowed to mine there and destroy the artifacts. Should be illegal.

  13. Oh yes, the bird head is very cool and that place looks amazing!

  14. So many great finds Pat! The ground does look rather treacherous! I love the view across to the rail bridge.

  15. Great shots, Pat. It appears to be another interesting spot to explore.

  16. in a place like this you really need a camera. No way you can remember it all unless you did not take shots. It´s a pity much is destroyed :(

  17. I like the way you think -- and you've spent enough time studying petro- and pictos (and know the country where they are so well) that I am positive that your interpretations of them are the right ones. (Or at least you have a better chance at being right than anybody else alive in the present.) Thanks for sharing.
    I'm in awe of the places you two get to... the sentence about the rockslide possibility made me cringe).

  18. Those are some clear petroglyphs. It is certainly sad that some people destroy things like this, but you see it everywhere.

  19. What gorgeous scenery and some amazing finds!

  20. The tortuous is fantastic - and the fact that you traced the name of Freeland Neahr back to it's owner. I want to go (with walking sticks). I've slid down a hill -- and ended up with a broken ankle, a plate and six pins.

  21. Seems like Pride and I couldnt read the name either.
    Never disagree with Granny!
    Amazing shots - such a shame that these areas arent protected. Cant believe they mined that area. That's not right.

    Thanks for sharing, both enlightening and informative, also a little sad.
    Great research too mate!

  22. It breaks my heart the disrespect (that's putting it nicely) you find out there; museums included. This site seems one of the richest I've seen on your blog. I think one of the many unique aspects of the desert is that it is a "living museum". I wish everyone could see it like that, with reverence. I wish all will follow your example. And shoot cameras, not guns!

  23. What en enormous post! Both in size and in wealth of material. Just like the proverbial book that you can't lay aside until you have read it all. It must be great to be able to decode all those pictographs, but it is a shame that people go around and have fun destroying history. But then, this is not the only place where some people seems to be without history.

  24. The rock that looks like a bird's head is truly amazing! It's hard to understand why some people find so much joy destroying history or anything that does not belong to them, for that matter.

  25. Bouncin Barb - Thanks Barb! That is exactly what I do. When I'm done thinking and imagining, I'm usually left with the same thought. These were doing just fine. Right up until the time that we arrived on the scene and decimated them.

    Wayne (Woody), whatever - You've got a good eye, my friend. I'm going to try and find out more about that particular symbol and how old/new it is. thanks Wayne!

    William Kendall - I think your description is spot on and that is part of why I love it so much.

    DEZMOND - Thanks DEZ! The lighting can be REALLY harsh in the desert. A few clouds really helps. In the photo after it you see what I mean about the light.

    Kay - Thanks Kay! I'm right there with you. I think the side of the hill/mountain with the mine is privately owned and rest belongs to BLM. I don't get it...

    Brian - I had to do a double take, when I first saw that thing. Thanks Brain!

  26. Liz - Thanks Liz! I'm sure the view is even better from on top.

    sage - Thanks Jeff! Very interesting. I need to get back there again. It's a very historical spot. I left a lot of info out because the post was getting much too large.

    NatureFootstep - You are so right about the camera. Up until several years ago, I never took photos of these places. Unfortunately, I'll never be able to go to them all again with a camera. Back then I didn't carry a camera at all, now I have three with me (sometimes four). Phone camera, pocket point and shoot and my DSLR. If I'm not hiking too far, I even carry a backup DSLR. Geeze, and to think that I went to digital because I got tired of carrying around so much camera gear!

    Sallie (FullTime-Life) - Thanks for saying those nice things Sallie. There are PLENTY of folks who know more about them, than I do. A lot of what I know, I was taught by my granny. Thanks again!

    Al - I have a lot more photos of panels that weren't so clear and/or deteriorated. Under the right conditions, they can last a long time. You know how it is in the desert Al. EVERYTHING is a potential target.

    Nora - Thanks Nora! The comments were my pleasure. It is a shame and I think it's high time that the "authorities" start educating people about the history of these places, instead of pretending they don't exist and/or ignoring them.

  27. ladyfi - Thanks so much!

    Pasadena Adjacent - Thanks! I'm really stoked about finding info about that guy. There was so much loose rock, that I'm sure a stick or pole, would have helped much. I've slid down a hill or two also. It's no fun wearing shorts!
    Sorry about the ankle!

    Anthony J Langford - I wish that one name was clearer. My granny had lot of history with these places and really knew a lot. I wish I had retained more of what she told and/or showed me. These places are protected by law, but in a physical sense, some of them aren't protected at all. Thanks Anthony! Yep, it's all a bit sad.

    Stickup Artist - It breaks my heart also. Oh yeah, the museums! The have plundered and stolen so much. It seems criminal to me. We are on the same page here...

    visualnorway - It's much bigger than I wanted it to be. I actually cut it down by 15 photos. I wish I could more of these petroglyphs. In actuality, I don't know that many. Most of the meanings are lost in antiquity. Maybe if these people weren't destroyed by us, more of their history would be available. It is a sad story. I think I need to do a post about it.

    EG Camera Girl - Amazing and scary! I don't understand why some people do those things either. I hate them!

  28. Remarkable area - so many symbols - but the vandalism - both commercial and personal is saddening.

    There are many places to visit in Australia - I don't suppose that its ever possible to visit the whole of a continent not matter how long you have! But I will give advice if you wish to try!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  29. Pat, I am so impressed by how much you know about petroglyphs and its history!

    Gorgeous photographs! What a breathtaking area!

    " In fact, they still thought the earth was flat. It kills me to think that there are morons out there, who have no problem shooting this ancient history all to hell."

    AMEN! It's like they no respect.

    Thanks for sharing. I find your posts extremely interesting!

  30. I saw the giant bird head right away too, Pat.

    Your photos are amazing. I think you could sell them to a museum or history book publisher or something/someone.

    Also, I'm so impressed with you and your wife's outdoorsman/womanship. You could win the Amazing Race, easily.


  31. Interesting inclusion of more modern graffiti.

    I envy you desert dwellers, where this kind of archeology is so easy to come by.

  32. That "giant bird head" rock really stands out. My favorite. I love your photographs, and am glad I'm blogging again if nothing else than to revel in your photographic journeys. Thanks for stopping by my "new" blog and welcoming me back. You're on my blog roll!

  33. Stewart M - It's a crying shame! One day, maybe I'll take you up on that offer. Thanks my friend!

    Ron - One time somebody told me that in front of my granddaughter. She chimed in with, "that's because he is so old, he was there when they were made."
    Thanks Ron, I appreciate the nice words.

    Rawknrobyn - Yep! There was no missing that thing. Thanks for saying those things Robyn. You've always been here and I REALLY appreciate it. My wife is a trooper and sometimes she surprises me, with the things she does out there. She is one of those rare people that has zero fear of heights.

    The Geezers - At least there was no spray paint involved. You are right about there being a lot of cultural sites in the desert. A lot of people assume that I live in the desert, but I actually live on the coast. But I LOVE the desert.

    Ann Best - That thing really stood out to me also. I'm glad you are posting again as well.

  34. You two could start a guided tour service that would be miles above what anyone else offers, and way more educational. I always, always learn when I see your pictures and read your posts!

  35. It's so tragic that they destroy all of that history! I think it's awesome that you and your wife go around visiting all of these places. Someone needs to remember those who have passed. And I think it's awesome that you're know so much about the drawings!!

  36. "It is said that no particular tribe of Indians ever claimed ownership of the place, but many used the resources found there."
    Not to get all philosophical, but wouldn't it be great it we all lived like that? Wasn't the major source of conflict between European explorers and Indians the concept of private property? I know that's simplistic, but it was a fact wasn't it?

  37. So when do you publish the book? I'll buy one, more than one. Do it.

  38. Shelly - Thanks for the nice words! There is a lot of information and history that I don't include, because I don't want to bore anyone. It's nice to see you back at it Shelly.

    Baby Sister - Tragic it is! Yep, my wife and I are pretty fortunate. It is a shame, that so much of the knowledge about rock art, has been lost.

    Al - Yep, the Indians couldn't understand the concept of "private property." They also didn't understand the concept of "buying and selling land." I'd say that the Europeans "tricked" the Indians and/or took advantage of them on both counts. It all ended up in genocide. Especially out here...

    altadenahiker - All I need is someone to do most of the work for me. I've got three others in the early stages of being written. "early stages" meaning, not much done. I appreciate the nice words!

  39. It's sad that so much was destroyed by mining and other lack of historical consideration, but still it's surprising how much still remains. Amazing how much old "graffiti" still is with us. Great photos as always.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

  40. Arlee Bird - It is a sad thing. Thanks Lee!


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