Why were the Petroglyphs made?

Deer petroglyph etched in rock

There were many reasons for creating the Petroglyphs, most of which are not well understood by modern society. Petroglyphs are more than just "rock art," picture writing, or an imitation of the natural world. They should not be confused with hieroglyphics, which are symbols used to represent words, nor thought of as ancient Indian graffiti. Petroglyphs are powerful cultural symbols that reflect the complex societies and religions of the surrounding tribes. Petroglyphs are central to the monument's sacred landscape where traditional ceremonies still take place. The context of each image is extremely important and integral to its meaning. Note each petroglyph's orientation to the horizon and surrounding images, as well as the landscape in which it sits. Today's native people have stated that the placement of each petroglyph image was not a casual or random decision. Some petroglyphs have meanings that are only known to the individuals who made them. Others represent tribal, clan, kiva or society markers. Some are religious entities and others show who came to the area and where they went. Petroglyphs still have contemporary meaning, while the meaning of others is no longer known, but are respected for belonging to "those who came before." While viewing these petroglyph images, please consider their importance to both past and present cultures.

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6001 Unser Blvd. NW

Albuquerque, NM 87120

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