When I first moved to Baltimore and got a bit settled in my job I started signing up for various training opportunities so I could enhance my knowledge. One training led me out to Albuquerque New Mexico, where I was able to visit Petroglyphs National Monument. I’ve been to a few different desert parks in my past but I was never able to get to this particular beauty!
Petroglphy National Monument is a protected area of over 17 miles, including hundreds of archaeological sites and carvings by the ancestral Pueblo people and early Spanish settlers. The area is appreciated for the preserved history, interesting images that may or may not have a deeper meaning, and the cultural and natural resources – including five volcanic cones.
One of the most significant things I learned while visiting the monuments is that the interpretation of the petroglyph images does not necessarily have one meaning. Each image can mean something different depending on the person and/or situation and giving it only one meaning may actually be a disservice to the history of these carvings. While the majority of the petroglphys have been determined to being created during the period between AD 1300 until the end of the 1600s, archaeologists can date the carvings as far back as 3000 years ago!
Petroglyphs are NOT graffiti – but damaging or adding to them is. Anytime someone desecrates a historic object we lose a bit of our shared human ancestry and cultural history. Don’t be this person, and if you see this happening either stop the person or report them to law enforcement at the park. Let’s make sure that we do keep our public lands preserved not only for this generation, but the next.
America’s cultural history dates back many generations, and to be able to view history in 2018 from possibly over 3000 years ago is astounding. It truly is like going back in time. Learning more and more about early history, Native American history, and the culture that surrounds different landscapes across the U.S. Is also very fulfilling as a historian. Get out and explore the rest of the area as well. Petroglphy National Monument is in Albuquerque New Mexico, and the area is gorgeous.
While Clinton was not able to make the journey with me to this unique treasure, we will be sure to visit in the future! I highly encourage everyone to research the over 400 parks that are part of the National Park Service. There are more than just National Parks out there, and I bet you will fall in love with them all!