• Petroglyphs and volcanic escarpment view from the Mesa Point trail at Boca Negra Canyon.

    Petroglyph

    National Monument New Mexico

Frequently Asked Questions

What are petroglyphs?
Petroglyphs are images that were etched or pecked into stone, usually boulders or large rock faces.

Who made the petroglyphs?
Most petroglyphs were made by American Indians who either lived nearby or were passing through the area. Most of the petroglyphs at this monument were made by the Pueblo, Apache, and Navajo people. Later, early Spanish explorers and settlers also made petroglyphs.

When were the petroglyphs etched?
Many of the American Indian petroglyph images were etched 300 to 700 years ago. The Spanish petroglyph images were etched 200 to 300 years ago.

How were petroglyphs made?
Most of the petroglyphs were made by pecking. An early method of pecking may have been accomplished by striking the basalt boulder directly with a hammerstone, removing the dark, desert varnish on the boulder's surface. Later, a more controlled execution was developed by using two stones, in much the way a chisel is used, to peck boulders. This "hammer and chisel" method gave petroglyph makers the ability to peck images with detail.

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