Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Petroglyphs and Pictographs

As we are making our way through Ancient History, we studied a bit about early cave paintings.  I mentioned to my Mother that it was too bad we couldn't see some in real life, so when we were visiting her a few weeks ago she arranged a day trip to Horsethief Lake State Park on the Columbia River.

The First People to inhabit the Columbia River Gorge area had filled the cliffs with petroglyphs and pictographs.  (A petroglyph is an image carved into the rock surface, while a pictograph is an image painted on the rock).   When The Dalles Dam was built, the reservoir behind the dam covered a vast majority of the images.  A sample of the images were preserved first by removing the stones from the wall.  They were stored inside the dam for 30 years.  At the request of several of the Confederated Tribes of Washington and Oregon, the images were moved to Horsethief Lake State Park for viewing.


These are called "Water Devils" and were very prominent in the samples.
Bird up top and deer down below.
Owls and other smaller carvings.
Additionally, this park has several examples of pictographs still on the cliff walls.  This area is considered a place of worship by the Tribes and is no longer open to the public due to vandalism, but you can arrange private tours.  When we arrived for our tour, we found that a wildfire had gone through the area less than twelve hours before.  It was still very hot and windy, but we were allowed in on a VERY  fast tour.

"She Who Watches"
If you look closely you can see drawings in red paint.
These images are dated about 800 years ago, so certainly not ancient, but we were all fascinated by seeing them up close in person and knowing how long they had lasted.

When we got home, we made my poor Dad run out for painting supplies and then it was time to paint our own pictographs.  (Miss M was relieved to know we wouldn't be making our own paints out of rocks and urine like the original artists had done.)

The Boyscout's version of She Who Watches.

Miss M's version of a Water Devil.

If you live near or are visiting the Columbia Gorge, we highly recommend taking the time to visit the park.  The Boyscout was our photographer and did a great job, but seeing them in person is amazing.

1 comment:

  1. FABULOUS! It was wonderful that you had the opportunity to see these ancient rock writings in person. I have researched them in various parts of our country, including Hawaii, Australia, China and Africa. They are quite mysterious and hold messages that peek my curiosity. They need to be protected and treasured as links to our past.

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