Thousands of Ancient Petroglyphs and Ancient Solar Calendar found in N. Arizona

Researchers have documented thousands of Ancient Petroglyphs and a ‘sophisticated’ Ancient Solar Calendar in N. Arizona, indicating human presence going back as far as 4,000 years. 


A sensational discovery has been made in the remote mesas of northern Arizona where researchers have discovered  thousands of previously undocumented petroglyphs and a prehistoric solar calendar which has been marking the seasons for hundreds of years.

The sensational discovery was made in the backcountry of Wupatki National Monument northeast of Flagstaff, an area where researchers have discovered many ruins of sites erected by the Ancient Kayenta and the Sinagua.

In 2014, researchers from the Museum of Northern Arizona [MNA] and the National Park Service started exploring the isolated monument hoping to document the full extent of the petroglyphs and other interesting features researchers had not had the opportunity to study.

“As a result of the current project, the NPS now has a complete library of photographic images of every panel, every element, and every feature [in the study area]”, said MNA’s David Purcell, who supervised the study.

“And we were able to expand the scope of the project … and conduct some pilot analysis of how the rock art is oriented to the horizons, and conduct detailed additional documentation of the solar calendars.”

For two years, researchers visited the site studying the phenomenon of the solar calendar and documenting the countless petroglyphs found in areas of Horseshoe Mesa, Middle Mesa, and an unnamed landform that they dubbed Little Mesa, documenting 122 panels of petroglyphs at Horseshoe Mesa –50 of which were previously uknown—and 107 panels at Middle Mesa, 88 of which were new to scientists. (source)

The study resulted in the discovery of more than 1500 separate glyphs that were recorded for the first time.



But what is perhaps the most important discovery is the fact that the study has come up with evidence of human occupation dating back further than anyone expected –petroglyphs and one stone artifact typical to the Archaic period dating back as much as 4,000 years.

“The most significant finding was the discovery by MNA Archaeologist Nancy Mueller of a complete Elko Corner-notched dart point [a style that dated from 1500 to 4000 years ago], as well as the finding of Panel 92, an isolated [petroglyph of a] bighorn sheep of the Glen Canyon Linear style, which suggests a Late Archaic presence at Horseshoe Mesa,” Purcell said. (source)

Researchers noted that most of the petroglyphs documented by researchers appear to be the work of the ancient Kayenta.

“The rock art and the associated artifacts are solidly within the Kayenta tradition, although we have seen a few Sinagua potsherds,” Purcell said.

But in addition to those petroglyphs, the ones that caught the attention of scholars were a cluster of peculiar geometric forms discovered in the southern pads of a sandstone ledge at the Horseshoe Mesa’s northern end.

Ever since its discovery in 1931, researchers suspected that the geometric forms played an important role in tracking the movement of the sun. Purcell said that according to new studies, the calendar located at an area labeled as panel 50, is indeed an “imaging calendar” — a time-tracking feature that uses the play of light and shadow — to mark the winter solstice, as well as the spring and fall equinoxes. Researchers  state that the creators of the ‘complex’ solar calendar had a sophisticated knowledge of both equinoxes and solstices.


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