Signs of pre-historic humans can be found throughout southwestern North America in what is today Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. Indications of their habitations and culture are found in many places that today may seem inhospitable to human habitation in the absence of modern conveniences and technology. This is either a testament to the ruggedness, adaptability and survival skills of these people, or a comment on how the climate in the area has changed over the last few thousand years. Undoubtedly the complete answer is some combination of the two, plus other reasons.
While exploring the area along the Utah/Arizona boarder near Kanab, Utah, I had the privilege of visiting one such site. Given the fragility of such historical and cultural treasures, and the propensity of modern humans to leave their own markings on such objects, I won't give specific details of the site. But while this site is not considered among the best examples of such rock art, it was still a transcendent experience to stand in pretty much exactly the same place where the artists who created these works stood and wonder what their purpose in creating them was. Was it art in the sense we think of art today? Or was it for more of a documentary purpose - to illustrate the animals that occurred in the area and that they may have hunted? Perhaps a combination of the two, or some other purpose entirely?
This week's photo is one of the works that seems more like an art piece, to me at least, than many of the other works at this site. A simple spiral carved into solid rock, we can only wonder about what this was meant to portray and/or convey.
You can see more examples of the various petroglyphs (rock carvings) and petrographs (rock paintings) that I was able to photograph at this site in the Colorado Plateau gallery on my website (http://www.chuckkopczakphotography.com/colorado-plateau).
Interestingly, there were other petroglyphs there of a modern origin. Apparently people who ranched and explored the area in the early part of the 20th century found these carvings and paintings, and were compelled to add their names and dates along side them. In books and information on rock art, such additions are considered an important part of the history of the site at which they are found. But their presence made me wonder how much time has to elapse between the time something like this is added and considered to be defacing graffiti, and when it becomes an important part of the historical record. I've got no answers, and I certainly didn't add any marks to the site.
This photo was taken with a Canon 5D MkIII dSLR with an EF 17-40 mm Canon lens zoomed to 32 mm. Exposure was set to a shutter speed of 1/90 sec at f/8.0 and iso 100. Fill light was provided by a Canon 580EX II Speedlite set on manual at 1/8 power.