Sunday, February 27, 2011

Archaeoastronomists in Action

One of our favorite and most interesting sites in the area is the V bar V Ranch. On this deserted ranch can be found some of the most pristine examples of Indian Rock Art in all of Arizona. We have visited this site with company and on our own several times. There are hundreds of pictographs chipped into a rock face.

Over the years, archaeoastronomers have been studying the pictographs, along with the path of the sun over the wall, to try to determine their meaning. Archaeoastronomy is the study of what peoples throughout history and prehistory made of the phenomena in the sky, how they used these phenomena and what role it played in their cultures. Much of what the symbols mean is still conjecture. One thing they have come to agree on is the potential existence of a solar calendar. This solar calendar would be used by the natives to determine times for planting and reaping crops, for example. Shadows thrown by certain rocks sticking out of the wall would point to symbols indicating activities that need to take place at certain times of the year.
Recently, Judy attended a lecture by a local archaeologist, Ken Zoll, who has been trying to determine if the rocks that throw the shadows are naturally in place or have been placed there by the original occupants. He finally arranged to have several Phd's from ASU come to the site to investigate.
This past weekend, a team of 4-5 experts, including Zoll, set up scaffolding to get a closer look at the wall.
They spent parts of the whole weekend getting up close and personal with each crack and crevice.

After close examination of the boulders and the cracks in the wall where they are lodged, the experts determined that there is evidence that the boulders that jut out were origianlly there, but other rocks were placed there or at least arranged there to hold it in its proper place. This was determined because there are types of rocks in the cracks that are not part of the wall itself and were obviously placed there. This gives more credibility to their theories of a man made solar calendar.

This was a fascinating experience for us. Judy was enthralled with it. We could hear the experts discuss things as they examined the wall and were able to spend time talking with Ken to get his take on this research activity and other digs at this very interesting site.

1 comment:

  1. Judy couldn't get any closer even if she scaled the scaffolding.

    Unfortunately, this picture doesn't magnify.