Pinyon Uplands - Site 6

Most of the 33 rock art panels at this site are distributed along the south face of a pinyon-covered basalt ridge that overlooks an east-trending drainage. Archaeological remains are found along the ridge to the north, and include obsidian projectile points and other flaked stone tools and debris, pottery fragments, shell and glass beads, and numerous ground stone tools. Bedrock milling surfaces are also present throughout the site, as well as a stacked-rock hunting blind and several rock rings that represent the remains of small dwellings. The remains of stacked-rock caches of pinyon nuts are also scattered throughout the site.

Analysis of the remains from this site indicates one major period of occupation, occurring 150 to 400 years ago, at the recent end of prehistoric times and extending into the historic period. Arrow points (including Desert Side-notched and Cottonwood types), glass and shell beads, and pottery sherds support this conclusion. Radiocarbon dates from the rock rings, and dating of obsidian artifact (by obsidian hydration analysis) also agree. A few earlier styles of projectile points, as well as some obsidian hydration measurements, indicate less intensive use of the site area dating back as far as 4000 years ago.

Abstract (83), representational (60), and scratched (54) elements are all well-represented at the site. These three types co-occur on eight of the panels, and as that suggests, many are quite complex. Good examples of complex panels include Panel 7, where representational elements dominate (fifteen sheep and five dogs or mountain lions), and Panel 19 where abstract designs dominate.

Sheep are the single most common element at the site, totaling 42. A "hunting scene" appears to be represented on part of Panel 21, with a bighorn, dog, and archer arrayed from left to right. This scene can not be more than 1500 years old, since this is when the bow and arrow came into use.

Two of the three major rock art types often co-occur. Panel 14 is one such good example, containing a fairly elaborate sheep (representational) and a number of abstract elements. Panel 16 clearly demonstrates abstract and scratched elements co-occurring.

Panel 4 is typical of the kinds of scratched designs that occur at the site. Scratched elements overlay pecked abstract and representational elements on 20% of the panels at the site.

As at other sites, superpositions indicate that scratched elements are the most recent designs, and are likely to be contemporaneous with the major period of occupation, 150 to 400 years ago. If we rely on the archer to indicate the age of at least some (perhaps most?) representational designs, they are more than 400 years old but not more than 1500 years old. Similarly, superpositions of representational designs over abstract ones indicate that the latter are older. Since archaeological materials from the site indicate earliest use beginning around 4000 years ago, it seems reasonable to assume that the abstract art is somewhere on the order of 4000 to 1500 years old.

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.