Dixie Archaeology Society

Preservation through Education

FAQ

Rock Art

  1. Will the Dixie Archaeology Society provide Rock Art site locations?

    NO, the Dixie Archaeology Society will not provide locations for Rock Art or other archaeological sites to non-members. Members are welcome to join the monthly field trips to rock art sites.

  2. How can I find Rock Art sites?

    Many sites are “public” and their locations are listed in guide books, pamphlets, etc.

    Many sites are on public land. Conversations with rangers or knowledgeable locals may yield results. However, do not be disappointed if they will not provide you with information. The location of archaeological sites is generally not provided unless someone knows that you are trustworthy.

    Many sites are on private property. You must always contact the property owner in order to gain permission to enter his property.

    The best way to gain knowledge about rock art sites is to join a group like the Dixie Archaeology Society. The knowledge you desire comes as friendships are made and trust is gained.

  3. What is Rock Art?

    Rock art is pictures either painted onto rocks (pictographs) or pecked into the surface of a rock (petroglyphs).

    Rock art was made by Native Americans hundreds or even thousands of years ago. Most rock art in the St. George Utah area was made between 700 and 1300 AD. However there some rock art was thought to have been made as long ago as 2000 to 4000 BC.

    Many peoples contributed to the rock art of the St. George area. These include paleo- Indians, archaic, basket maker, Anasazi, Fremont, and Paiute

  4. What does the Rock Art mean?

    No one really knows the answer because the artists have long since died.

    However, archaeologists believe that the rock art was made to assist in educating the people about important aspects of their life. This can be about great events that have taken place or about stories relating to the origins of the people, prayers to their gods, or thoughts about what is to come in the afterlife; in other words, stories from life or stories about spiritual aspects about their religion.

    Think of rock art as a “Power Point” slide(s), or stained glass windows in a cathedral; both are/were used to illustrate an idea or story to the people.

    More simply, some glyphs are thought to be clan symbols that may have been used to make that clan’s territory.

    There is some consensus between archaeologists and Native Americans on the general meaning of some rock art symbols, making it possible to gather some idea of the meaning of the rock art. This knowledge was gained only with the help of the Native Americans, and the understanding of their culture, their oral traditions and stories as well as the understanding of the traditions of cultures in other parts of the world. It turns out that many rock art symbols are found in other parts of the world, having similar meanings to the indigenous peoples of those areas.

  5. What is the Etiquette when Visiting Rock Art Sites?

    How to Enjoy Rock Art

    When visiting any cultural site, treat the entire area with care and respect. What has sometimes survived for a thousand years can be lost in a few minutes simply because someone did not think about the consequences of their actions. Please remember that many sites are still sacred to Native Americans, so treat the areas that you are visiting with respect. Treat the rock art sites as if you were entering a church, where even your voice level may affect other visitors' experience.

    As you approach a site take a few seconds to pause and "take in" the site and its surroundings. Observe the geology and topography of the land. Observe the plant life. Look for clues that may tell you how the natives survived in the area. Look for possible sources of water – they did need water as we do and they did not have plastic bottles and camelbacks to help them. Remember the environment of the site has probably not changed significantly over the last 1000 years!

    Enjoy rock art by viewing, sketching, and photographing it. Do not climb on, touch, chalk, wet down, or do rubbings of the petroglyphs or pictographs, as any kind of direct contact may cause these ancient works to begin disintegrating resulting in irreversible damage.

    After viewing the site, take time to reflect on the message that the artist wished to convey. The message was likely something of critical importance to the people, something that needed to be conveyed to generations. Look at the symbols, some are understood, some are not. Ask questions of others with more experience. But most importantly, let the rocks “talk to you”.

    Other Points of Rock Art Etiquette:

    Always obtain permission before visiting sites that are on nonpublic lands.

    If at all possible, keep on established trails and use only designated camp sites. If you can't use a designated campsite, please be aware of where you build your camp fire.

    Be watchful where you and other members of your party - including pets - walk, camp, target practice, climb, dig, and place your hands. Some vandalism accidentally occurs because people don't think about their actions, or the actions of their pets or children. The other side of this is deliberate destruction.

    If you observe any damage or vandalism occurring at a site, please call the BLM or other authority as soon as possible. If you observe vandalism damage, photograph it if you can. If you observe someone in the act of committing vandalism, try to photograph them and their vehicle with the license plate number being careful not to put yourself in harms way.

    Remember, removing any artifact is illegal - taking home souvenirs can land you in jail.

    Enjoy what you are seeing, and leave with only photographs, memories, and whatever you brought in with you. Leave everything else in place for the next person to see and enjoy.

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