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Mysterious Petroglyphs of Western America

Viewzone recently received images of some petroglyphs from Shawn Davies, one of the founders of the Ancient Historical Research Foundation and co-author of the article "Mysterious Petroglyphs in the Western US". One of the current projects of the Ancient Historical Research Foundation is concerning a series of mysterious petroglyphs that, so far, has only been found in the western US. To date no major headway has been made concerning the critical information of these petroglyphs, including any knowledge as to who made them and why.

Shawn said that he would like to further their existing knowledge base concerning these petroglyphs by soliciting additional help from other individuals who may know of other existing panels. For this reason, he asked Viewzone to publish the attached photos and to ask readers to contact us concerning any knowledge they may have concerning the Mystery Glyphs.

Shawn states that he does have information leading him to believe that they are at least 100+ years in age, since one of the panels was first seen by pioneers in the 1850's. To date they know of 24 panels scattered across the western US, separated by hundreds of miles. There is at least one known panel in all of the western States, California, Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. The two exceptions being Washington and Oregon where they don’t know of any existing panels … yet. They do have a few leads indicating that there was a panel in Oregon but it is now under water due to a man made dam.

Up until now, most of the panels that have been found are close to population centers. That's probably one of the reasons they have been found. They just received a solid lead for a new panel which they have never seen before in Colorado, and this one is in a very remote location. They only have a sketch to go by, but it does appear to be another panel of this type of petroglyph which includes a symbol that does not appear in any of the other known panels. Hopefully they will get a chance to visit this panel this summer to verify that it is really there.

The petroglyphs appear to be chiseled in the rock, unlike the regular pecking you would normally see in Native American petroglyphs. This could be an indication that they are relatively recent and were made with metal tools rather than stone implements. Metal tools were unknown to Native American Indians prior to the 16th Century when the Spanish migrated to the western region of America. Since the symbols appear to be made after this period it is likely that they are not directly related to an ancient language.

Frequently, in Colorado, New Mexico and Oklahoma, Viewzone has seen chiseled and scraped petroglyphs that had similar symbols and were believed to be the brands of various cattle ranches; however, these symbols were usually in small groups and not arranged in a linear patters suggestive of writing.

When locating petroglyphs, it is important for amateurs and even professionals to note the exact location of the rocks, preferably using GPS coordinates, and also the direction of the rock face. Many ancient petroglyphs appear to be carved on rock facing East, or sunrise. It is also suggested that one should NEVER place chalk or paint the grooves as this can damage the petroglyphs and possibly distort the real shape. Another reason for avoiding any enhancement is that organic material, such as chalk or paint, prevents futiue scientists from dating the petroglyphs by examining the patina or coating that forms over the rocks with age. In some earlier expeditions, aluminum powder was applied to the grooves to make them more visible when photographed, but even this inorganic treatment if frowned upon.

When photographing petroglyphs it is a good idea to not use a flash, since this illuminates the grooves from the front and makes them almost invisible. Many petroglyph explorers use a hand held light, like a headlight and a battery, and take multiple pictures of the same petroglyphs with illumination from different side angles. This way, the subtle shadows of every fine groove or pecking can be recorded.

Often, petroglyphs will appear high on a ridge or rock face. This is an excellent indication that the petroglyph is very old and that the ground level has dropped with erosion and time.

Some symbols appearing in petroglyphs can represent an object, such as a bird or a mountain. Other symbols may represent a sound, much the same way our alphabet does. One Native American scientist, LeVan Martineau, showed that many American Indian petroglyphs depicted hand signs and hand gestures, since this was the universal language of various indigenous people who could otherwise not understand their neighbors unique dialect. In his book, "The Rocks Begin To Speak," Martineau successfully translated many large and complicated panels of petroglyphs from before and after the Spanish migration.

Although these petroglyphs appear to be more recent, they are attempts of human communication through time. They have survived their authors, and will undoubtedly also survive their readers. Please let us know if you have any thoughts or suggestions on this particular group of petroglyphs. You can write to viewzone ( or directly to Shawn Davies at

Editor's Note: If you are interested in petroglyphs, please be sure to read about thepetroglyphs of Colorado on this web site and also our huge archive of global petroglyphs.

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Other unexplained photos on this site:

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Stone Head
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Odd Rock Formations
Petroglyph Archive
Black sun?
More Petroglyphs
Odd Skull
Snuff on Web?
Ancient Sword?
Birds paths!
Clay Dinosaurs?
Stone Dinosaurs!
Syrian lines.

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