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27 November 2005
Rock art sites in Colorado

When people think of petroglyphs in the USA, they often think of Utah and New Mexico. In fact, a surprising amount of rock art exists in neighboring Garfield County (Colorado). And there may be a lot more yet to be found.
     Andrea Brogan, an archaeologist with the White River National Forest, said few people seem to be aware of the amount of rock art that is close to home. She was surprised herself to learn how much has been discovered in western Garfield County. In fact, prehistoric people have left a pictorial history of themselves in the area. "I think we're just sort of scraping the tip of the iceberg by what we see out there. I know there's more out there and there's clues about the people," Brogan said.
     Brogan has taken an interest in Oni Butterfly's efforts to protect rock art on her property in the Dry Hollow area south of Silt, about 80 miles west of Vail, after meeting Butterfly while cross-country skiing on the Flat Tops. Now that Butterfly's canyon is protected from development, the rock art there is the first Brogan is aware of south of Silt and Rifle to have some sort of protection. But she knows of other property owners in that area who also are considering seeking protection for rock art on their land. Brogan thinks some of the artwork is as much as 4,000 years old.
     Some other local rock art sites are in the Mamm Creek area, and on a spot along the Grand Hogback north of Silt. A higher-elevation site is in Sweetwater east of Glenwood Canyon. There is a pithouse in the Battlement Mesa area, and rock art has been found in Glade Park on the Uncompahgre Plateau, and in abundance in the Dinosaur National Park region.
     Some local rock art is in pristine condition, which might be attributed to its being on private property. By contrast, vandals have damaged the Sweetwater site.
     The prehistoric people who lived in the area are called the Uncompahgre, a branch of the Utes. Some of the artwork shows deer, elk and bighorn sheep. Other petroglyphs are a complete mystery to Brogan, and among these are some concentric circles that look like targets.

Source: Vail Daily (24 November 2005)

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