Dean M. Chriss
The Shamans

The Shamans

(Click image to enlarge)

The rock art shown in this image is several thousand years old. Because no written language was left by its creators, the meaning of these and other pictographs is left to our imaginations. Rock art is generally classified by its style, which corresponds to its age. The Barrier Canyon style, to which this artwork belongs, ranges from about B.C. 5500 to A.D. 1. This rock art site is one of many to be found throughout the American southwest. Note that the images shown in this photograph are pictographs, which are painted onto the rock. The more common petroglyphs are "pecked" into the rock with a sharp stone.

The ancient rock art present here and in other areas is irreplaceable, priceless, and fragile. The sad truth is that most of the easily accessible rock art sites have been permanently defaced or destroyed by vandalism. But even the act of touching rock art, just lightly and only once, causes eventual staining from oils that are present in human skin. It can also cause flaking of the ancient paint. Small things have huge impacts over time that spans thousands of years. If you are fortunate enough to visit one of these places, please be extremely careful to leave it exactly as you found it.