Weekly Photo Challenge – Symbol

Sego Canyon

Sego Canyon

One of my favorite subjects is the rock art of the Southwest and my very favorite is these ancient pictographs. They’re quite rare and very old. There are two kinds of rock art seen throughout the Southwest: petroglyphs which are carved into stone and pictographs which are painted. The pictographs like this one are much older – dated to around 5000 B.C.E.

These figures are named after a famous site in Canyonlands National Park in Utah – the Barrier Canyon style. I have been to Barrier Canyon and did photograph the site several years ago, but it was before I got my new Nikon. I’m planning on going back in the next year since I have my new Jeep which can traverse the 25 mile dirt and rock road get to the trailhead!

This Barrier Canyon style of rock art is especially fine work and has survived (obviously) on the sandstone walls of the canyon lands for seven thousand years or so. We know very little about the people who painted these figures, as all that remains are the paintings themselves. But symbolic they certainly are, and as with most art we’re left with our own thoughts and feelings about what these symbols mean. This shot was taken at a site near Thompson Springs Utah in Sego Canyon.

How would you interpret these symbols?

To learn more about the Weekly Photo Challenge, click here.

16 comments on “Weekly Photo Challenge – Symbol

  1. Oh, aliens, of course. Definitely aliens. I’m going to ask them to get me a new car too. Hopefully they are not jeepskates. 😛

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Cathy, I looked at “the man in the middle” and thought, “Wow, there’s the inspiration for the Oscar!” I wonder what that paint was made out of to have survived the elements for several thousand years? The Benjamin Moore eggshell color my building’s management used on the walls in my sanctum sanctorum has barely lasted seven years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cathy Ulrich says:

      It is amazing that these colors have lasted so long, isn’t it. Leon looked it up and posted it here, but it is also my understanding that they used mineral oxides (probably iron for the red color) along with proteins to make the paint. Most of the ones I have seen are various shades of red – probably because there is so much iron in the area – but also some black.

      Liked by 1 person

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  4. seabluelee says:

    This is a subject that’s always fascinated me. According to the National Park Service website, “Colorful plants and minerals were ground up and mixed with protein based liquids such as egg, blood, or urine to make different colors of paint. The pigments were applied using sticks, brushes, fingers or hands.” But it does seem amazing that it has lasted for thousands of years even when exposed to the elements. Yours is a wonderful photo, Cathy. I love the vivid colors and textures you captured.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cathy Ulrich says:

      Thanks so much, Leon. I love these wall paintings too. I know you lived in California for awhile. Did you see any ancient rock art there?


      • seabluelee says:

        Not in California, Cathy, but I grew up in Southern Nevada and saw some there. I probably have photos but they’d be waaaay back in my olden days film/slide archives.


  5. Fabulous! And hard not to see space ships and space travelers here… n’est cest pas?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Amy Reese says:

    Oh, this is so cool, Cathy. And of course, it’s the aliens. Great shot!

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. Cecilia says:

    These ancient pictographs are always so fascinating. And yes, this is the question I ask myself: what do they mean? I wish I had an answer.


  9. […] Weekly Photo Challenge – Symbol […]


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