Saturday, May 26, 2012

Trailing archaeology: about the Lagomarsino Petroglyph Site

The Lagomarsino Petroglyph Site is a cultural heritage site in the Lagomarsino Canyon of  the Virginia Range east of Reno/Tahoe in Nevada. The site can be accessed via dirt road from Virginia City (for example, see the detailed post by Daphne and Larry Worsham) or by hiking the Long Valley Creek Trail from Lockwood. This inspirational place of important North American Rock Art has already been studied in the early 1900s by local Reno residents, followed by UC researchers from Berkeley and, since June 2003, by archaeologists and volunteers of the Nevada Rock Art Foundation (NRAF).

An information panel behind the locked steel gate at the entrance to the petroglyph area summarizes the local rock art history:

The Lagomarsino Petroglyph Site is one of the largest rock art sites in Nevada, with over 2,200 petroglyph panels pecked into boulders nestled on the talus and cliff face in front of you. These representational and abstract images were created over a span of at least 10,000 years, and although we do not know what the images mean, they still hold great significance and deserve to be respected.

The basalt bouders of the Lagomarsino talus slope are dark gray. The engravings thereon show a light gray and sometimes light yellowish green color, such that they could be mistaken for lichen, were it not for their distinct and artistic shapes. While boulder hopping upward to the fine-grained basalt cliff, be careful not to step onto art. On a hot summer day, you may want to watch out for those rattle snakes that love to hang out in the shade between the rocks. What was the spiral inspired by?  A coiled-up snake, labyrinthian dreams, a celestial event or ...? Now it's your turn to decipher these fascinating documents of pre-columbian, American heritage!

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