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Petroglyphs, Pictographs, and a Geoglyph: Rock Art of the American Southwest

Posted by Laurie Frost on September 23, 2010

Here’s something different. Petroglyphs are carved into rock; pictographs are painted on the surface, and “rock art” is an all-purpose general term that you can use should the first two fail. Sources for today’s post include The National Archives’ DocuAmerica,  National Park Service (NPS), and the Naval Air Weapons Station– China Lake. 

First, several pictographs photographed by David Hiser for the EPA’s DocuAmerica project posted at The National Archives website. 

NEWSPAPER ROCK, IN INDIAN CREEK HISTORIC STATE PARK, IS REMARKABLE FOR THE CLARITY AND NUMBER OF ITS ANCIENT INDIAN PICTOGRAPHS, 05/1972  

Moab, Utah: Newspaper Rock, Indian Creek Historic State Park. 05/1972. . ARC Identifier 545679, ARC Identifier 545671 [close-up] 

NEWSPAPER ROCK IS A LARGE CLIFF MURAL OF ANCIENT INDIAN PETROGLYPHS AND PICTOGRAPHS, REMARKABLE FOR THE CLARITY OF ITS NUMEROUS FIGURES, 05/1972  

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ONE OF THE PICTOGRAPHS IN THE MAZE, WESTERN PART OF THE PARK THE PARK SERVICE CONSIDERS THE REMOTENESS OF THE AREA THE BEST PROTECTION FOR THE DRAWINGS, 05/1972  

Canyonlands National Park, Utah.  05/1972 ARC Identifier 545675  

THIRTEEN FACES EAST (THREE FACES OUT OF CAMERA RANGE), IN HORSE CANYON. THESE PICTOGRAPHS ARE BELIEVED TO HAVE BEEN INSCRIBED 1000 YEARS AGO, 05/1972  

Horse Canyon, Canyonlands National Park, Utah.  05/1972 ARC Identifier 545687   

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The next three should be credited to the National Park Service (NPS): 

NPS photo. Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Nageezi, New Mexico

 

McKee Springs Petroglyphs 1

NPS. McKee Springs Petroglyph, Dinosaur National Monument, Utah & Colorado

 

 The following is from the National Park Service’s Mesa Verde website and describes the small image to the right: 

 According to one Hopi elder, this petroglyph, found on Mesa Verde’s Petroglyph Point Trail, may tell the story of two clans (the Mountain Sheep Clan and the Eagle Clan) separating from other people and returning to their place of origin.  Notice the boxy spiral shape?  This likely represents a sipapu, the place where Pueblo people believe they emerged from the earth (believed to be near the Grand Canyon).  You can also see the head and arms of a figure, and on the bottom right, a possible Katsina clan symbol. 

  

  

Now here’s something new to me: one of the largest collections of petroglyphs in the US is on a military installation in California, and only one site, Little Petroglyph Canyon, is open to the public — and that is on a very limited basis: 

Concentrated in secluded canyons of the volcanic Coso Range on the test ranges of the Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake, Calif., are thousands of visual reminders of people who, thousands of years ago, hunted and gathered their food in this high desert. The Coso Range Canyons contain the highest concentration of rock art in the Western Hemisphere. More than 6,000 images have been pecked, engraved, or abraded into the desert varnish or patina that forms on basalt rocks with time and weathering. 

No one knows for sure how old these petroglyphs are. A broad range of dates can be inferred from archaeological sites in the area and some artifact forms depicted on the rocks. Some of them may be as old as 16,000 years, some as recent as the 1800s. Designs range from animals to abstract to anthropomorphic figures. . . . 

After the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, security concerns resulted in the cancellation of all petroglyph tours. While security is still a number one priority, NAWS houses one of the largest concentrations of petroglyphs in North America. Therefore, with security in mind, the Commanding Officer of NAWS has adopted a new policy to allow limited tours to the public. 

All tours will be conducted with a minimum of two Command-approved escorts. These escorts are volunteers contributing their time to the tour groups so that you may see and enjoy the rock art of Little Petroglyph Canyon. … 

One image in the media gallery at the installation’s website is of a geoglyph, which I suppose means the image was carved onto the ground rather than on a rock face: 

 

” This starburst-shaped geoglyph was located on one of the pre-historic sites.” 

Here are some deer-shaped and sheep petroglyphs: 

 

  

And one of geometric shapes and another that “differs from the other petroglyph designs in the canyons at NAWCWD, China Lake”: 

 

  

 

  

  

Resources:

To learn more about petroglyphs and pictographs, visit: 

The Three Rivers Petroglyph Site:  More than 21,000 glyphs of humans, animals,  plants,  geometric and abstract designs in the Chihuahuan Desert of New Mexico. 

Slideshow of Rock Art at Chaco Culture HP 

Coso Rock Art District, China Lake, California. This site has an interesting essay on connection between shamanism and petroglyphs; unfortunately, its images are not in the the public domain. 

Petroglyphs and Pictographs of Southeast Alaska, Tongass National Forest 

Rock Images, NPS Archaeology page. List of locations of petroglyphs, but with many broken links. 

  

 

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Public Domain Haiti Relief Photos

Posted by Laurie Frost on January 22, 2010

Here are some pictures of  Haitian relief effort, starting with these from the US Air Force:

 

Top: A C-17 Globemaster III delivers humanitarian aid into the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan. 18, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. James L. Harper Jr.)[100118-F-4177H-957.JPG]

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Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Posted by Laurie Frost on January 16, 2010

The images for this post are from US government websites that are in Haiti to offer aid following the earthquake that demolished Port-au-Prince on January 2010.

These aerial photos taken by Global Hawk unmanned aircraft on January 14, 2010 are from the US Air Force photo gallery. The first is of the National Cathedral; the next, the Presidential Palace.

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Is It an Bullet? A Robot? No, It’s a Balloon Gondola!

Posted by Laurie Frost on July 21, 2009

090109-F-1234S-008

credit for all photos/illustrations in this post: United States Air Force. [Explanation of public domain status.]

How would you like to spend 32 hours in this thing, 101,516 feet above the ground, suspended from a plastic balloon? That’s how by Maj. David Simons spent August 19-20, 1957, during one of the three flights conducted as part of the US Air Force’s MANHIGH program, designed

to obtain scientific data on the behavior of a balloon in an environment above 99 percent of the earth’s atmosphere. It also investigated cosmic rays and their effects on humans….

During the MANHIGH II flight, Maj. Simons flew the pressurized capsule on display on a 32-hour flight to 101,516 feet, thereby establishing an altitude record for manned balloons. Including the pilot and scientific equipment, the gondola weighed 1,648 pounds. At maximum altitude, the plastic balloon expanded to a diameter of 200 feet with a volume in excess of 3,000,000 cubic feet. PROJECT MANHIGH provided important information about the effects of high-altitude flight on humans in small capsules like those that would be flown in space.090304-F-1234P-004

Not a lot of amenities on this 32-hour flight. The photograph [below] of the control panel on the gondola’s interior makes the chamber seem spacious, compared to the artist’s illustration [above].090109-F-1234S-009

And finally, a picture of the balloon and gondola photographed by the Air Force seconds after launch.  According to the caption of the online exhibit of MANHIGH, “as the balloon climbed, the outside air pressure decreased, and the gas within the balloon expanded to fill the envelope.”090304-F-1234P-003

The MANHIGH gondola is on display in theMissile and Space Gallery of the National Museum of the US Air Force near Dayton, Ohio.  Also on display is the Stargazer gondola. 050328-F-1234P-013The Stargazer Project  (1959-1962), developed to allow  high altitude astronomical observations, also

provided valuable information relative to the development of pressure suits and associated life support systems during an extended period on the edge of space.

The balloon that supported the Stargazer capsule was a 280-foot diameter sphere of mylar film; however, at launch only a comparatively small bubble of helium gas occupied the top of the balloon with the remainder of the balloon envelope dangling beneath. As the balloon rose, the gas expanded, filling the balloon until at maximum altitude, it was completely filled and reshaped the envelope into a sphere. The gondola was supported below the balloon on a cable giving a total height at takeoff of approximately 400 feet. 

A replica of the gondola used in Project Excelsior is on display at the museum. This project (1958-1960) investigated parachute escapes at high altitudes:

As Project Excelsior did not have the resources to use high performance aircraft to test the new escape system, a balloon gondola was designed and built by the skilled staff at Wright Field to carry the pilot to the desired altitudes for the tests. The balloon held nearly 3 million cubic feet of helium to lift the open gondola high into the stratosphere.

On the third and last jump in Excelsior III on Aug. 16, 1960, Capt. [Joseph W.] Kittinger jumped from a height of 102,800 feet, almost 20 miles above the earth. With only the small stabilizing chute deployed, Capt. Kittinger fell for 4 minutes, 36 seconds. He experienced temperatures as low as minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit and a maximum speed of 614 miles per hour, exceeding the speed of sound. The 28-foot main parachute did not open until Capt. Kittinger reached the much thicker atmosphere at 17,500 feet. Capt. Kittinger safely landed in the New Mexico desert after a 13 minute, 45 second descent.050328-F-1234P-014050419-F-1234P-036

 

Excelsior balloon launch in New Mexico.

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