The Story Behind…Hieroglyphic Canyon

February 27, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

The Story Behind…
Hieroglyphic Canyon

Hieroglyphic Canyon

It was a 1.5 mile trail that took us over a gentle slope covered with cacti until we found ourselves in a boulder-filled canyon and a wall of petroglyphs etched into the weathered surface of the cliffs.
As we photographed the petroglyphs, we stared at each panel and just knew that someone out there must have studied these beautiful inscriptions.  Six degrees of separation played out as we followed contacts from Phoenix, to California, to Flagstaff and found Dr. Donald E. Weaver, Jr., a recognized authority on Southwestern prehistoric rock art.  He documented rock art sites throughout Arizona, one of which was Hieroglyphic Canyon located in Gold Canyon, Arizona.
All it took was a call to Dr. Weaver about our Hieroglyphic Canyon photographs.  He graciously granted permission to paraphrase the history of the petroglyphs from his Monograph No. 1 and proofed the titles we assigned to each image.
Hieroglyphic Canyon, named by settlers in the 1800s even though it contained petroglyphs, served as a base camp for family groups of prehistoric and early historic peoples who hunted and gathered in the vicinity.
With inscriptions cut into the face of its vertical granite canyon walls between A.D. 900 and 1600, Hieroglyphic Canyon’s petroglyphs tell stories of Hohokam cultural groups and their descendants, the Pima.
Depictions of desert bighorn sheep and deer scattered among geometric shield-like elements, plant forms and human figures document the past existence of plentiful big game animals, food gathering activities and ceremonial affairs.
Reference:  The late Dr. Donald E. Weaver, Jr., Hieroglyphic Canyon, ARARA Monograph No. 1, 1985.


Add images of Hieroglyphic Canyon to your home decor with a custom print. 

  • Make a statement with one enlarged petroglyph.
  • Display multiple petroglyphs in a single frame.
  • Create a collection of individual prints.
  • Select a traditional frame, Museum Back or Canvas finishing treatment.

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