Capitol Reef Anthropomorphs PetroglyphsCapitol Reef Anthropomorphs Petroglyphs

These Petroglyphs are attributed to the Fremont Indians who lived in this area between AD 700 and AD 1300. In this panel there are anthropomorphs with trapezoidal bodies, ear bobs and headdresses of various sizes and the panel also includes sheep, kokopeli and other symbols.

Petroglyphs are pecked into the rock and are most often found where Desert Varnish is found, this panel is pecked into the lower part of Wingate Sandstone. Desert Varnish consists primarily of clay minerals including manganese dioxide and iron and are cemented to the surface.

Capitol Reef Sheep PetroglyphCapitol Reef Sheep Petroglyph

Higher and slightly further west of the panel above another panel containing sheep is visible. I didn’t notice the sheep at first but a young woman got excited and said “Look at the sheep!”. Honestly I was looking for real sheep when she said that and I just couldn’t see them. Then the young woman pointed out the sheep petroglyphs to her male companion and me and I am glad she did. Sheep are commonly seen in Fremont Rock Art.

Defaced Capitol Reef Anthropomorphs PetroglyphsDefaced Capitol Reef Anthropomorphs Petroglyphs

One thing I have noticed in the petroglyphs and pictographs I have seen in Rock Art throughout the western United States is the defacement of the panels. I have outlined some of the defacement found in the Anthropomorphs Petroglyph at Capitol Reef in the image above. A heart with some writing in it that appears to be dated some time in 1930, the initials D + P and others I can’t quite make out. Today penalties for defacing Rock Art can include a year in jail and fines up to $100,000. Petroglyphs and Pictographs are ancient national treasures and should be treated as such.

Defacement of the Capitol Reef Sheep PetroglyphDefacement of the Capitol Reef Sheep Petroglyph

The Sheep panel also contains some defacement.

For the preservation of Pictographs and Petroglyphs it is important not to touch them because touching can loosen the stone materials and our hands could leave behind oils that damage them. Carving anything into the rock art, painting it with graffiti or other means of defacement is punishable by law. I won’t write exactly what I think of people who deface rock art because it isn’t suitable for mixed company much like my feelings regarding the recent lack of stern punishment for the “Goblin Topplers“. Destroying these national treasures robs us all.

I get so excited when I see and photograph the Rock Art of Utah and I always wonder about the artists and ancient people who created them. It must have been a hard life for those ancient civilizations yet they still had time to create art. Perhaps someday we will understand the meaning of Petroglyphs and Pictographs. Me, I just treasure each of them.

Hopefully one day I will see more Capitol Reef National Park Petroglyphs.


PS: at the very least I would have expected that the punishment for the Goblin Topplers should have included many hours of community service.