A week ago my family and I visited the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site just north of Tularosa, NM. There are over 21,000 well-preserved carvings all over the rocks that cover the hills of Three Rivers. It’s a little treacherous climbing the loose, shifting rocks which provide excellent hiding places for the venomous snakes that live there, but it’s well worth the peril, unless of course you get bit by one of those sly, slithering serpents.
There seems to be varying ideas as to how old the carvings are and what the meaning of each symbol is. Some are fairly obvious for those who have studied the petroglyphs of other cultures and see similarities. Such as this one. The hat this character is wearing is supposedly a replica of a temple which is in turn a replica of a mountain.
But then there are drawings like this one, seemingly just a face. Maybe it is because I am an artist, but I imagine that some of the petroglyphs are just the work of an ancient native person simply expressing his creativity. Imagine two bored natives waiting around for their next kill. “Hey Joe, hold still and I’ll carve your portrait.”
I could certainly be wrong, and I am sure many a learned archaeologist (or want-to-be archeologist) would say that I am, but I believe that it is in the heart of all people to want to create even without a religious or practical reason. And that is what I got from our time at the petroglyphs, a connection through the ages of artist to artist.
Except of course for this one which is obviously an alien from the mothership that taught the natives to build their temples. ; )