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Painted Rock Petroglyph Site

Photographs of Arizona petroglyphs. Click on any photo to enlarge.

The Painted Rock Petroglyph Site is located on the eastern edge of the Painted Rock Mountains and about 18 miles west by northwest of Gila Bend, Arizona.  This area is mostly flat and sandy with May -Oct daytime temperatures in the 100's. The annual rainfall here is only about six inches and the nearest irrigational water is the Gila River. In prehistoric times the Gila flowed west out of the Mountains of western New Mexico, made a big dogleg turn at the town of Gila Bend and continued west to empty into the Colorado River. The Hohokam people once lived and farmed here. Ruins of their late Pioneer Period (AD 350-AD 550) and Early Colonial Period (AD 550-AD 700) villages are found to the north and west, and ruins of their Sedentary - Classic Period (AD 900-AD 1400) villages are found to the south and east.

Over 40 petroglyph sites have been recorded in this area, however; most of these sites are small with only a few dozen petroglyphs. The Painted Rock Site is the largest known site with about 800 images. The petroglyphs are pecked onto weathered basalt boulders overlaying a granite outcrop. The outcrop is in the form of an east to west orientated oval about 400' long, and about 20' tall with two small knob tops . Most of the petroglyphs are concentrated on the boulders along the eastern edge, but the petroglyphs face in all directions from that edge.

Although considered a Hohokam rock art site, Painted Rock is on the extreme western edge of the Hohokam cultural area.  As you travel east from Painted Rock the petroglyphs take on more typical Hohokam characteristics, and as you travel further west, the petroglyphs take on more Patayan characteristics. Found here and in nearby areas of the Gila River are petroglyphs of Archaic origin.  Painted Rock also bears the inscriptions of Historic passers-by. Juan Bautista de Anza passed near here in the 1700's, followed in the 1800's by the Mormon Battalion, the Butterfield Overland Mail, and countless numbers of pioneers. In the 1900's George Patton used this area as headquarters for WWII tank training.

Painted Rock Petroglyph Site

Gila Bend Arizona rock art

The petroglyphs at Painted Rock are pecked into an
outcrop of rock varnished basalt  boulders.

Most of the petroglyph boulders are concentrated on
the eastern margin of the outcrop.

Gila Style petrpglyphs

horse & rider petroglyph

Many of the boulders are covered on all surfaces with
densely packed petroglyphs who's elements fall
chiefly into the Gila Style.

This representation of a horse and rider was made after the
Spanish introduced horses into the southwest, post 1600's.

Historic graffiti on rock art

Hohokam petroglyph lizards

Historic graffiti at Painted Rock extends back to the 1800's.
Anthropomorphs are usually  simple stick figures with or
without digits.

Round body lizards, anthropomorphs and lizard men are found in large numbers. Lizards usually have tails longer than their legs.
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Hohokam concentric circles petroglyph Petroglyphs in Gila Style
Concentric circles and spirals are frequently found at
Hohokam sites. These six circles are fairly symmetrical.
Note the upside down 'D' body quadruped at the center
left, which usually implys the meaning "killed" or "dead".
Hohokam petroglyph turtle & bird quadruped petroglyph
The image to the left is probably a turtle and the one
on the right a quail.
Quadrupeds are difficult to distinguish between bighorn
sheep, deer and long eared canines.
See...    Petroglyph Replicas Carved in Stone
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Learn More...    Petroglyph CDs
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2006  All rights reserved. Reproduction, distribution or other use of images without permission from the artist is prohibited.