Pinyon Uplands - Site 4

This site is located within a pinyon forest, with most of its 38 petroglyph panels located on a north- and west-facing basalt rimrock. Two dense areas of archaeological remains are located to the northeast of this rimrock. Both of these areas contain flaked stone debris from the manufacture of stone tools such as projectile points, pottery sherds, and ground stone tools such as milling slabs for grinding seeds. Two rock rings, the likely remnants of dismantled caches of pinyon nuts, as well as a stacked-rock hunting blind, are also present.

Analysis of these finds indicates that the site was occupied at two different times. The most recent occupation took place between 200 to 650 years ago. This is indicated by small projectile points that were used with arrows (Desert Side-notched and Cottonwood Triangular types), the pottery, and the rock rings. The previous occupation occurred around 2500 years ago, based on the presence of large corner-notched projectile points (Elko series) manufactured before the introduction of the bow and arrow. Direct dating of the obsidian (by obsidian hydration analysis) indicates that most of it was deposited during the earlier of the two occupations, and that some of it may be even older, perhaps 4000 to 5000 years.

Many different types of designs are present on the petroglyph panels. Scratched (132) and abstract pecked (101) designs are plentiful, while representational ones are rare (10).

The scratched designs range from extraordinarily elaborate and delicate designs, such as those at Panel 7 -- evocative of a beaded necklace -- to uncomplicated geometric lattice or net-like designs like those at Panels 4 and 15, or a seemingly informal series of thin vertical lines, like at Panel 6. In contrast to most pecked designs, many of the scratched panels were made where the rock's surface is light tan or orange-tinted. They are often placed very close to the ground (Panel 13), and some were placed in narrow crevices.

Abstract elements at this site are dominated by various types of circular designs, lines, and rakes. Panel 25 is one of the most impressive abstract-dominated panels at this site, with its series of "atlatls" (bifurcated circles) combining with a large and elaborate "rake" to cover an area nearly 1 meter (3 feet) high and 1.5 meters (4 1/2 feet) wide.

Panels with both abstract pecked and scratched designs indicate that the latter are more recent than the former. Panel 31, for example, has a few rectangular abstract elements beneath a complex scratched grid, while at Panel 32, an abstract pecked circle is underneath a complex scratched grid. This suggests that the scratched designs likely were made during the most recent occupation, 200 to 650 years ago, while the abstract designs likely were made when the site was occupied 2500 years ago and perhaps earlier.

Sometimes a particular manufacturing technique is best suited to a particular photographic technique. The positive image of Panel 31, for example, clearly shows the pecked abstract design, and less clearly shows the scratched designs. The negative image of Panel 32, though, clearly shows the scratched design, but at the expense of illustrating the pecked abstract circle.

The site map below shows the location of rock art panels as yellow dots. Click on any of the dots to see a photo of the panel at that location.