Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ancient Graffitti

Back to tourism. My boss from our days in Paris, Jacques, and his wife Claire are visiting us. Some mutual friends from Chicago, Syd and Mitzie Eisen, have also come to Sedona to see Jacques and Claire.

We decided to visit one of the best sites for petroglyphs in all of Arizona. The petroglyphs are rock carvings made by the natives up to 1200 years ago. This place is in an old abandoned ranch, called the V-V (Vee bar Vee) ranch. All that is left of the ranch is a chimney from the house. A short walk along a Sycamore lined trail leads to a wall of petroglyphs. A guide there explained the significance of many of the carvings as well as explained how the natives had created a solar clock to mark the seasons. The wall is just a few degrees off of due north. There are a couple of rocks that conveniently stick out from a crevass on the wall which causes light and shadow to appear on the wall when the sun hits it right.

The natives carved images on the wall when the sun hit at times of the year to indicate the season they were in. For example, when the sun hit a certain spot on the wall, it was the season to plant the corn. So, they put a symbol for planting corn on the wall. Then they would know when to plant the corn the next season. Here is the symbol for planting corn. It looks like fish bones. Can you find it in the larger image? There are many other symbols that represent animals, festivals etc.

Next we stopped at Monezuma's Well which is close by. This is a huge sink hole that contains a constant level of water at a constant temperature and a constant outflow of thousands of gallons per minute. They are not sure how it works. The white people who first stumbled on it thought they were in Mexico so they named it after Montezuma. The water has a high concetration of CO2 so there are no fish in it. The life cycle in the well seems to be plankton, algae, insects and leeches. Yikes, no skinning dipping at night here. They natives used the water to irrigate their crops and lived around the well or in cliff dwellings in the wall of the well. This was a very interesting surprise.


  1. Tony, sounds like a great time. I love your shots of the petroglyphs. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Those pictographs are fascinating. Swear there is an airplane-like figure in there, too.