Monday, May 16, 2016

Coyote Hole Rock Art #1 - The GOOD - Joshua Tree

The Coyote Hole rock art site is on the edge of the town of Joshua Tree (in Quail Springs Wash) and just outside of Joshua Tree National Park. The area was also used for habitation by the Serrano and/or Cahuilla Indians and is several thousand years old. At one time, it was considered one of the most important rock art sites in this part of the country.

Here is some of the good stuff...

Somebody had to do some climbing to create the petroglyphs on the top right, of the tallest rock. It is about 40 feet off the ground.

A closer look at the symbols. As you can see, much of the surface of this large boulder has eroded off as the centuries have passed.

Another tall stack of rocks containing petroglyphs.

It looks like there are a couple of layers of symbols in this panel. Some of them have almost been reclaimed by "desert varnish." Re-varnishing is one of the methods archaeologists use to date petroglyphs. The style of the petroglyphs can also indicate a time frame.

The image just to the right of center is called a dumbbell (as in a dumb-bell used for weight lifting). Of course a dumbbell is usually a straight line (or bar) connecting to round shapes. Of course, there were no "dumbbells" back then, and the jury is still out as to what this particular type of design represented. HOWEVER, when I was a youngster my granny told me that the traditional "dumbbell" image represented a conversation, negotiation, or communication, between two people. THIS image represented the same thing, but with another person "in the middle" acting as an intermediate, who passed the words of one person to another. It may have been needed because the two people needed someone to mediate what they were talking about, or because there was too much distance for the two to communicate directly. Maybe I'll gather up various types of "dumbbells" together that represent several types of communication.

My granddaughter Tay still loves this stuff. Note the graffiti on the large rock to her right and left.

Various designs. The one in the middle looks to be anthropomorphic (giving human like characteristics to something that is not human).

This panel contains six different images of atlatls. The atlatl is a device used to throw a spear, or arrow like shaft, before the advent of the "bow and arrow." This also aids archaeologists in dating petroglyphs.

This is the panel containing the images in the previous two photos.

A large mumber of images in this area.

Many images, some of which were apparently made by different tribes, in a different style, over a very long time period. Some are of the Great Basin Abstract (Curvilinear) style, and others are Rectilinear. There are a couple more Anthropomorphic images here also.

Rough country...

Although the large mortar in the middle has been there for a very long time, the rocks appear to be a fairly recent addition. I (and others) think that it is supposed to look like a fire ring. However, something just now struck me. Why would somebody go to all the trouble to arrange these heavy rocks in a circle? There isn't any visible evidence of fires in, or near the mortar.  In the next photo you can see a large rock (bottom right) that clearly has been "worked" and probably used as a grinding surface. Just a thought, but we will never know...

Coming next...

Coyote Hole Rock Art #2 -The BAD - Joshua Tree  


  1. That ring of rocks probably wasn't created by the natives...
    A dumbbell could've been someone running back in forth between two villages, passing messages.
    I wonder how long before the rocks in the first couple photos topple. They look precariously balanced.

  2. Alex J. Cavanaugh - I was told by someone that there is a very old rock circle in the area. I don't think this it either.

  3. It took a lot of grinding to get that rock in the last photo worn down like that. Great photos.

  4. Hello, it is a neat place to explore. The stack of rocks, the petroglyphs or rock art is cool. It is great your granddaughter is taking after you and your love of these special sites. Great collection of photos. Happy Monday, enjoy your new week ahead!

  5. Very cool. I should hike there.

  6. What a great post! I really like the possible meaning of the dumbbells. It makes sense that they would have wanted to record important negotiations. And how interesting that different people developed bows and arrows across the world.

  7. Love seeing your grand-daughter there. What a grand legacy to pass on to her: this love of petroglyphs, the desert, the ancient histories, a stunning perspective of time and our human presence. Wonderful photos.

  8. Fantastic set of pictures. What a great sense of the history of the area you must get.

  9. It would take great care for someone to have done those high petroglyphs.

  10. This was all so interesting -- especially the part about the 'dumbbell'. I like your Granny's explanation and it sounds so right. I am picturing the people setting off to climb those rocks with (what kind of) tool in hand, thinking about what they would carve when when they got up there .. I wonder if there was a ceremony as they began this important project. (It doesn't seem like it would have just been a casual, spur-of-the-moment individual thing to do, considering the work they had to do to get there). Well, all we can do these days is dream and wonder I guess. I love to do that. Thanks for climbing the boulders yourself (and glad you're well enough to do so). Can't say I look forward to your next post because of the title, but I am glad you are going to share whatever it is.

  11. That's quite an amazing place and I love the Coyote Hole name!

  12. sage - That is what I was thinking. I wish I knew the real story about that ring. Thanks Jeff!

    eileeninmd - Hey Eileen! I really hope my GD continues to love this stuff. Now that she is a teenager, I hope she doesn't lose it. My wife suggested that I take her camping for a week or so this summer. Thanks! It is a Happy Monday. My wife and I are parked (in our RV) right next to some huge coastal sand dunes. We just arrived a couple of hours ago and plan

    Kay - Thanks Kay! It's really easy to get to and a pretty easy hike also.

    Mandy Southgate - Thanks Mandy! I agree with you about the bow and arrow. I know that they made their appearance here in the southwestern US about 1300 years ago, but were already in Asia and Africa at least 10,000 years earlier. Pretty darn interesting.

    robin andrea - I wish I knew as much as my grandmother did, and could pass it on the same way. My granny and her husband were always teaching us how to survive, and become "lost-proof." I don't think our daughter would appreciate me using the same methods with Tay, as my granny used on me/us. Thanks Robin!

    Al Penwasser - Thanks Al! That is exactly what I get in these places. It's like a time machine for me.

    William Kendall - Yep! I've seen some so high, that I can't imagine somebody taking a risk like that.

    Sallie (FullTime-Life) - I think they were probably all of those things. Also, many times they were spur of the moment and done by a Shaman in a dream quest. Or maybe hunting magic, or directions, or a warning. Man, I wish we really did know. You are right about the title of the next post.

    Brian - Thanks Brian! It is an amazing place.

  13. How fabulous to see all these ancient, and maybe not so ancient, petroglyphs! I loved my one and only visit to Joshua Tree a few years ago. Beautiful place!

  14. Maybe those last two where where they held food preparation classes. There were a LOT of petroglyphs in these photos!

  15. Wow, it's so cool. I need to build a bucket list and get this on it. I am very happy that you have passed you passion to your granddaughter, we can't afford to lose this knowledge.

  16. Excellent post!
    This place really stirs my imagination. Imagine if we could go back in time and watch the tribe's daily life.

  17. Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti - Yep, some are ancient and some, not so much. I agree about Joshua Tree, it is one of my favorite places. I have no idea how many times I've been there in my life, but it's a ton. Thanks for the comment!

    Ms A - Oh yeah, I think I saw one episode on the Food Channel...

    Wayne - If you put it on your list, and are going to make it out here, be sure to let me know. I really hope my granddaughter stays interested.

    James - Thanks James! I feel the same way James. I think I said in another comment that these places are like a time machine to me.

  18. Wow, you hit the jackpot this time - so many marks as evidenc!! The fire ring is as you point out not clear, except that it probably had to do with community. Many thanks for sharing this with SEASONS! - so interesting! And great that Tay has an interest in it too. Who know she may end up studying archeology - one of my friends kids did, and he traveled to far away digging places. Remember to link up next week, you don't need a new post - you can use this one, just another photo:) Have a great week!

  19. It's clear I missed a lot in my two visits to Joshua Tree. Your granddaughter is charming.

  20. These are amazing and so interesting. It just blows my mind that these Petroglyphs are still around after many, many years. - It saddens me though to see Graffiti being displayed on the area. People just have no sense of right or wrong it seems anymore. How wonderful that your granddaughter enjoyed this outing. I know I did enjoy seeing through your photos.

  21. jeannettestgermain - It's an unfortunate fact that we will never know the truth about a lot of these places. We don't even know, what we don't know yet. Thanks!

    Should Fish More - Thanks Mike! There is a lot to miss there.

    Ida - I glad you enjoyed them! I saved most of the graffiti for my next post. Thanks so much for commenting and signing on. I'll be visiting your website also...

  22. The rocks and artwork is fascinating, Patrick! What a great post!

  23. This is a seriously incredible collection of petroglyphs Pat, nice and clear. I was wondering if the symbol on the rock closest to the camera in shot number eleven might signify a 'meeting' . If the 'dumbbell' sign is a communication between two people maybe this is communication between a group? What do you think?

  24. I'm impressed by how tall and defined those rocks are, Pat. The third one looks to me like a monkey or person raising its hands in prayer.
    And your granddaughter is a tall sweetie, too.

  25. I thought I just commented - not sure if it went thru. Apologies if you're hearing from me twice.
    I'm impressed with how tall and defined these rocks look, and the third pic looks to me like a chimpanzee in prayer.

    You're granddaughter is a sweetie and really tall too.

    Be well, friend.

  26. your granddaughter is growing so quickly. what a lovely young lady. i like the mediator.:)

  27. Great photos. What a bonding experience with your granddaughter. She will cherish these memories in the years ahead, like I do with my now deceased grandfather.
    The dumbbell is a great idea. We should have more of it in our society instead of relying on bullshits courts and nasty lawyers to do it for us.
    I particularly love the photo Rough country - its composition and natural light is perfect. You could frame that one!

    Excellent post Patty.

  28. Amazing photos...and I love that beautiful blue sky as a backdrop. I would love to explore this area one day!

  29. Great looking pictures - make me wonder just how important these rock images were if people would climb that high to do them.

    I have to say I view the coming 'bad' post with a little trepidation.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  30. I'm so thrilled that you are sharing your experiences with your granddaughter! What a wealth of information and experiences she will carry with her all her life. I can't wait to start taking our grandkids on some travels!

    I read the "bad" post first. What a shame.

  31. such lovely colour of the sky!

  32. Wonderful pictures, I love how you captured the atmosphere and the petroglyphs of this beautiful place! Very exciting!

  33. Liz - Thanks so much Liz!

    PerthDailyPhoto - The symbol you refer to in the eleventh photo is an interesting one. Generally speaking, symbols that contain a cross of sorts, are thought to refer to the four points of the compass. Or, refer to the "four elements." The elements being Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. Nobody, really knows though. So who's to say that your idea isn't correct? Thanks Grace, great comment!

    Rawknrobyn - Thanks so much Robyn! When I first saw that rock, I also thought it looked like an ape. Tay is a sweetie (and a tall one). Thanks for saying that.

    TexWisGirl - She sure is! She just attended her first school dance (middle school graduation), AND she went to it with her first boyfriend. Oh man! She and I, have a camping trip planned for a couple weeks from now. I hope she still wants to go.

    Anthony J. Langford - Thanks Anthony! We have had a very close bond, ever since she was born. Too much to write here, but maybe I'll do a post on it.

    Optimistic Existentialist - Thanks so much! I appreciate your comment and for signing on here.

  34. Stewart M - Thanks Stewart! I can tell you that they were very important, but I can't tell what they all mean! Isn't that a twist...

    trav4adventures - Thanks Cheryl! She loves this stuff, and now her little brother is becoming interested as well.

    Nora - Thanks for the nice words. I'm glad you like these places, because the NPS won't even admit to their existence.

    DEZMOND - I agree, the sky is very big there. Sometimes, it's too big, and too harsh. A few clouds always help.

    Leovi - Thanks Leovi! I'm happy that you enjoyed it.

  35. Wow, what a populated area! That is a lot of petroglyphs. It's a beautiful area as well.

    I'm always impressed with how much you know about them, and that you're passing that knowledge down. It's wonderful.

  36. Baby Sister - Thanks Amanda! Not only a cool place, but pretty important historically. I know more than some, and much less than others...Thanks for saying that.


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