Sego Canyon… Do Petroglyphs Get Any Stranger?

I am still off celebrating my birthday week. Since I am in my seventh decade, I get seven days. I started the practice way back when I was a youngster of 50. I took five days off each year during that decade and made darn sure they were work days. Being retired, I have more flexibility. (Grin) What this means now is that I am reposting another blog from my past. This one is from 2017 so several of you may have already seen it. Not to worry. These petroglyphs are alien enough they are worth visiting again. Looking at them again, I thought of the post I just did on shamans of Three Rivers. Check out the photo below. Does it get stranger than this? Enjoy.

These larger-than-life pictographs at Sego Canyon in Utah are among the strangest I have ever seen. Now add in the fact that they are several thousand years old. And what’s with the pictograph on the right? Also, check out this guy’s spiky hairdo.Are they antennae?

Zipping along Interstate 70 in Utah, you might very well decide to take a detour and visit Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. It is a decision you will never regret. The odds are, however, that you will miss the small road that extends north of the Arches turnoff heading toward the town of Thompson Springs. In so doing so, you will miss the opportunity to visit one of the most magical and mysterious rock art sites in the Western United States: Sego Canyon.

Quivera the Van waits patiently in Sego Canon as Peggy and I wander around looking for rock art. Most of it is located on the two rock faces below. Peggy watches as I work my way up closer to the petroglyphs.
Most of the rock art at Sego Canyon is found on the two faces of this large rock. I am hidden in front of the brush.
This is another rock face that Peggy and I checked for petroglyphs in Sego Canyon. We didn’t find any rock art but the rock itself was quite unusual. I could see why early Americans might have considered the area sacred. Can you find the alien Roswell skull? Or is that Indiana Jones?

Three different historical periods are represented in the rock art here dating back over a period of 6,000 years. The most fascinating to me are the pictographs left behind during the Archaic period by nomads who roamed the area from 8,000 to 2,000 years ago. The large, anthropomorphic forms that are painted on the rock normally lack eyes, arms and legs but may come with antennae, snakes and earrings. Known as the Barrier Canyon Style, it’s hard not to think of these pictographs as alien, or at least imagine a shaman encountering these creatures on a drug induced journey into an alien world.

Dave Kingsbury, one of my followers from England, and I were discussing cults where people run around with rattlesnakes in their hands. We both agreed that such sport wasn’t for us. This horned pictograph from the Archaic period seems to have a thing for snakes. Possibly he belonged to such a cult. Or possibly he was a very powerful shaman.
Or maybe something else. I see this and I want to say, “Take me to your leader.”
And this.
I find these jellyfish-like pictographs even more mysterious than the anthropomorphs. UFO fans might describe it as a space ship taking off, but hey, maybe it is a jellyfish. Or likely something else.
This shot provides a view of how some of the pictographs fit together on the right side of snake man.
And to the left..
And now, all together.
A final shot from the Archaic period. I found these pictographs a bit ghostly.

The Fremont Culture took over from the Archaic period and lasted from  600 CE to 1200 CE. Unlike the nomadic Archaic peoples, the natives of the Fremont period grew corn, lived in permanent stone buildings, and had a complex social structure. Most of the rock art they left behind is in petroglyph form, pecked into rather than painted on the rock.

The Fremont era had its own strange figures, but these were loaded down with jewelry. I found the hand interesting. I wonder if it is holding Datura seeds. It looks a bit like a foot walking in the circle. And there is a Big Horn sheep. It is rare to find petroglyph sites in the west that don’t include them.
A close up of the two figures with another ghostly one to the right. There is also another hand and another sheep, a fat fellow. The tiny figure on the left looks more like a deer to me.

And finally, we have the more modern Ute Culture that populated the area from 1300 to 1880 CE, when the Utes were forced out of their homes and onto Indian Reservations so pioneers could grab their land. One way to distinguish petroglyphs from this period is the presence of horses, which the Spaniards brought to North America in the Sixteenth Century. In fact, horses are a major tool used in  dating rock art.

This Ute rock art featured what is thought to be a shield. I’d say that the horse is about to become horse meat.  But wait, is that a small man on the back of the horse? Maybe he is the enemy.
Ute Indians seem to hunt buffalo in this scene, which will be my last for Sego Canyon. If you ever find yourself in the area, don’t miss the opportunity to explore this fascinating  site.

NEXT POST: It’s all about snakes. I hope you like creepy crawlies. I do.

26 thoughts on “Sego Canyon… Do Petroglyphs Get Any Stranger?

  1. So glad to see all these drawings — and there must be hundreds of them, maybe thousands if you count around the world. I’m now wondering if the “tagging” that I abhor on buildings and railway cars will last as long as these drawings. Oh, my. That just sends chills up my spine!

    • With over 900 posts, I could keep it up for a while, Ray! Good luck on your move. Always one of life’s great challenges. At least that is what I think about moving. –Curt

  2. I’m a great believer in birthday seasons myself. If we get a Christmas season and an Easter season, we surely deserve our very own birthday seasons!

    Your ‘take me to your leader’ reference reminded me of a very old cartoon — probably from the 60s. A very large, exceedingly tall flying saucer had landed, and a very small human at its base was looking up at a rather fetching space creature. That’s when he said, “Take me to your ladder. I’ll see your leader later.”


    • Yes we do Linda. I’ve been practicing faithfully since my 40s. It didn’t take Peggy long to catch on and begin to demand equal time. 🙂 Of course we both benefit. I help her celebrate and she helps me celebrate. Double your pleasure, double your fun!
      Ba-da-boom for sure. Grin. –Curt

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