Mysterious, ancient boulder vandalized; surveillance images released

JACKSON COUNTY, N.C. —A boulder in North Carolina covered with mysterious drawings that predate the Cherokee Indians in the area has been vandalized, and on Tuesday investigators released surveillance images in the case.

The Judaculla Rock is deep in the mountains of Jackson County, near Sylva. Archaeologists believe the strange, and as yet undeciphered, carvings on the stone may be 2,000 to 3,000 years old.  The relic has been interpreted to represent everything from a peace treaty to ancient religious symbols to the key to a secret language.

Over the years, paranormal activity has been reported around the stone. The boulder contains more petroglyphs than any other known boulder east of the Mississippi River, about 1,548 motifs.

The Cherokee believe Judaculla, “Master of the Game,” a giant from the land of dead spirits in the West, visited them as a helper before returning to the West. Read more.

Dinosaurs once roamed here, and visitors today can see the fossils of these ancient creatures embedded in the rocks of Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado. The park also preserves petroglyphs (patterns chipped or carved into rock) and pictographs (patterns painted on rock) of designs shaped like lizards, birds, spirals and more. Photographer Dustin Baugh captured this beautiful photo before cooking dinner at his campsite: “The meadow was full of deer and Canadian geese wandering the swollen river banks, with one large bighorn sheep grazing near the cliffs.” Photo courtesy of Dustin Baugh.

Shifting Sands Reveal 400-Year-Old Petroglyphs in Hawaii

Shifting sands on a Hawaiian beach have revealed — and then concealed again — carvings that Hawaii’s indigenous people made on the shoreline at least 400 years ago.

Two tourists from Texas stumbled across the petroglyphs last month on Oahu’s Waianae Coast on the western side of the island.

“It was just a stroke of luck,” Lonnie Watson, one of the visitors, said in a statement issued by the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. A beam of light happened to hit one of the petroglyphs, which caught Watson’s attention.

So far, 17 carvings have been found in the sandstone shoreline, including one measuring almost 5 feet (1.5 meters) long. Most are of human figures, and some include carvings of the figures’ fingers, said Alton Exzabe, an archaeologist with the U.S. Army, which manages many of the archaeological sites in Hawaii. Read more.


#mypubliclandsroadtrip kicks of the weekend at Three Rivers Petroglyph Site in New Mexico, a site that offers direct access to petroglyphs.

The number and concentration of petroglyphs at Three Rivers make it one of the largest and most interesting petroglyphs sites in the Southwest. More than 21,000 glyphs of birds, humans, animals, fish, insects and plants as well as numerous geometric and abstract designs are scattered over 50 acres of New Mexico’s northern Chihuahuan Desert. The petroglyphs at Three Rivers, dating back to between about 900 and 1400 AD, were created by the Jornada Mogollon people who used stone tools to remove the dark patina on the exterior of the rock. A small pueblo ruin is nearby and Sierra Blanca towers above to the east.

A detailed guide to the petroglyphs is available at the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site.  CLICK HERE to plan your visit.

The Volcanic Tablelands near Bishop, California, are a vast, rugged landscape formed over 700,000 years ago by the Long Valley caldera. In this high desert environment, generations of Paiute and Shoshone Indians once resided, leaving behind an extensive collection of carefully chiseled petroglyphs in the rocks. Now a destination for rock climbers, these fragile treasures are protected by the Bureau of Land Management. Photo by Abhilash Itharaju (


Thanks for following the #mypubliclandsroadtrip in BLM Utah!

View the BLM Utah roadtrip journal-storymap here:

Next week, the roadtrip explores the unique southwestern landscapes and resources of Arizona by foot, boat, bike and more.  


The petroglyphs in the landscape of Tamgaly, Kazakhstan, dating from approximately 1400 BCE to the 20th century.

Offering us unique insight into the rituals and social organization of the pastoral peoples who inhabited this site through time, the archaeological landscape of Tamgaly contains about 5,000 petroglyphs (rock carvings), which are distributed throughout 48 complexes largely associated with burial grounds and settlements.

The central canyon has the densest concentration of petroglyphs, contains ‘alters,’ and has been interpreted to have had ritual significance. The central canyon is devoid of dwellings, and is thought to have been a place for sacrificial offerings.

During the Middle Bronze Age we see Tamgaly-type petroglyphs, which include zoomorphic beings, people, a huge variety of animals, and 'solar deities (sun-heads).’ During the Late Bronze Age the petroglyphs become smaller in size, and display less variety in what is depicted. Here scenes of pastoral life are popular, reflecting the prominence of nomadic cattle breeding activities during the time. During the Early Iron Age, scenes showing the hunting of wild animals remain present, but we also see camels starting to appear in the art.

If you are interested in reading more about the 'solar-headed’ petroglyphs I would recommend The Archaeology of Shamanism (2001, Routledge), specifically chapter 5. This publication is edited by Neil Price, professor of archaeology at the University of Aberdeen, who is a specialist on shamanism in archaeology.

The petroglyphs within the archaeological landscape of Tamgaly are listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site -their article on the landscape was of great use to me while writing up this post. Photos courtesy of & taken by Ken and Nyetta.

Thousands of Ancient Petroglyphs, ‘Dramatic’ Solar Calendar Reported in N. Arizona

Archaeologists exploring the remote mesas of northern Arizona have uncovered a trove of previously undocumented rock art, including more than 1,500 petroglyphs, and confirmed the presence a prehistoric solar calendar, which has been marking the seasons for more than 700 years with a striking “shadow dagger” that travels across its sandstone face.

Researchers made these finds in the backcountry of Wupatki National Monument northeast of Flagstaff, which includes the ruins of dozens of sites built by Ancestral Puebloans known as the Kayenta and the Sinagua.

Experts with the Museum of Northern Arizona [MNA] and the National Park Service set out to explore the isolated reaches of the monument in 2014, in order to document the full extent of the rock art and other features that scientists had not studied in decades or, in many cases, had never seen before. Read more.


Happy Birthday, New Mexico!

On this day in history, New Mexico became our 47th state. BLM employees in New Mexico care for 13.4 million acres of public lands plus 26 million acres of subsurface mineral estate.

New Mexico’s public lands offer breathtaking scenery, from rolling prairies and lush riparian areas to open woodlands and desert peaks – the iconic landscapes of the American West. CLICK HERE to plan a visit. 

Photos by Bob Wick, Wilderness Specialist for BLM’s National Conservation Lands