Dean M. Chriss
Santa Claus Petroglyph


(Click image to enlarge)

This petroglyph is the earliest known artwork that depicts Santa Claus. It dates from about 1-1200 CE when the Fremont culture flourished in America's southwest. Earlier petroglyphs from the Formative period show Santa's sleigh and reindeer but this is the first known to show Saint Nicholas himself. Because the artist pecked a somewhat abstract image into the rock, Santa's actual size at the time is a mystery. Common foods were much less calorie dense than they are today so Santa probably did not yet have a broad face and a little round belly, that shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly. Even so, it is thought that he was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf.