Go to Table of Contents.
About This Publication
List of Tables
List of Illustrations
Introduction to the Site
Research Design
Castle Rock Pueblo in a Regional Context
Settlement Organization
Population Estimates
Faunal Remains
Plant Evidence
Rock Art
The Final Days of Castle Rock Pueblo
Oral History
A Native American Perspective

Rock Art

by Kristin A. Kuckelman

A small amount of rock art is present at Castle Rock Pueblo. Although rock art is not directly datable, this art is assumed to have been produced during the occupation of the village at Castle Rock, which has been dated from A.D. 1256 to sometime after 1274 (see "Chronology"). The rock art consists of several petroglyphs: a few small images on top of the butte (Database Photo 1353 and Database Photo 1355), two isolated designs on the faces of nearby boulders, and one panel on the south face of the butte. This rock art is a significant additional source of information about the villagers who lived at Castle Rock.

The two isolated designs on the faces of the boulders consist of wavy lines 45 cm (18 in) long and 4 cm (1.5 in) wide. They were interpreted by a Hopi elder as possibly representing the Hopi water snake clan.

The panel on the butte face is located midway up the south face in a location that could have been reached only by a ladder resting on the roof of Structure 208 (Database Map 509). This panel consists of three anthropomorphic figures of similar size, positioned side by side (Figure 1). The three figures have rectangular or globular bodies that may represent warriors' shields. The figure in the center and the figure on the right hold bows and arrows, stand back-to-back, and appear to be defending each other. The figure in the center seems to be shooting an arrow toward the figure on the left. The figure on the left, with his legs in front of him, appears to be falling away from the central figure and holding up a shield in defense against the arrow.

Typical anthropomorphic figures created in this region during the time of the Castle Rock occupation are front-view "lizard men" with sticklike arms and legs extending out to the sides and bent at elbows and knees (Cole 1990*1:143; Schaafsma 1980*1:135-136). These anthropomorphs are usually depicted as stick figures or as figures with narrow, rectangular bodies. The anthropomorphic images on the Castle Rock panel, however, are not typical of this style: their bodies are not narrow or sticklike, and they are depicted in side view. Figures far more similar to the Castle Rock figures have been recorded near Moab, Utah (Cole 1990*1:Plate 60; Schaafsma 1980*1:Figure 126). Many of the Utah figures are also depicted in side view and have similar shields or backpacks, and some have "antennae" similar to those of the central figure in the Castle Rock panel. It is possible, then, that the panel at Castle Rock shows influence from southeastern Utah. Other evidence of contact with southeastern Utah is present at Castle Rock in the form of a red jasper Bull Creek projectile point (see "Trade" and "Artifacts").

Anthropomorphic figures wielding bows and arrows have been reported on other rock art panels in the Southwest. They are usually depicted in animal hunting scenes (Cole 1990*1:Plate 85; Hurst and Pachak 1989*1:16; Schaafsma 1971*1:Figures 32, 33, and 121, Plates 14 and 16, 1980*1:Figure 65), but other possible depictions of human violence are not unknown (Hurst and Pachak 1989*1:10). The Castle Rock panel could have been created for any of several reasons. It might have been created by one or more residents of Castle Rock during the habitation of the village, to reflect the conflict and unrest in the area at the time. It might have signified an agreement among the villagers to defend one another in case of attack, or it might have served as a warning to possible intruders. Alternatively, the panel could have been created after the attack that ended the habitation of the village (see "The Final Days of Castle Rock Pueblo"), by a survivor, a relative of the victims, or one of the attackers. Rock art has been used in other areas to record historic events (Hurst and Pachak 1989*1:24; James 1974*1:137).

The rock art panel at Castle Rock is significant in that it provides evidence of conflict independent of the defensible site location, defensive architecture (see "Architecture"), disarticulated human remains (see "The Final Days of Castle Rock Pueblo"), and oral history. The artistic style of the figures suggests possible influence from southeastern Utah.

References cited | To borrow, cite, or request permission

Copyright © 2000 by Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. All rights reserved.