Rock Art Gallery

Mojave Desert petroglyphs at Black Canyon

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

Black Canyon is situated in the Black Mountains of the western Mojave Desert, about 35 miles west and north of Barstow, California.  The Black Mountains are formed from Miocene sediments capped with basalt lava flows. The canyon extends  from the southern face of the mountains in an 's' shape to the better known petroglyph site at Inscription Canyon. This is an arid region with only a few springs and seeps.

Archaeological evidence from nearby sites indicates human occupation extending back at least 8000 years. Many of the geometric petroglyphs in this canyon are carved in the Great Basin curvilinear and Great Basin rectilinear 'styles' and are attributed to the Shoshonean Period of the Western Great Basin, AD 1000 to Historic times. Other petroglyphs that exhibit a higher degree of re-varnishing (redeposit of desert varnish on the exterior of the rock) are from earlier hunter/ gatherer times.  This area was utilized by the Shoshone, Southern Paiute and historically by the Kawaiisu. Next 8 photos.

Barstow petroglyphs Black Canyon petroglyph photographs
Man-sheep, notice how the front and hind legs are bent human-like rather than animal-like  
Desert Culture Mojave Desert
Great Basin curvilinear style The image on the right may be an atlatl (throwing stick that pre dated the bow and arrow) or an opening in the rock where the shaman entered the spirit world.
Great Basin curvilinear rock art
  Books about Mojave Desert rock art and petroglyphs
Great Basin rectilinearl Black Mountain
Great Basin rectilinear style click to see detailed replicas of petroglyphs 
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