Thursday, October 31, 2013

Archeological discoveries around the Thomas Creek Trailhead southwest of Reno, Nevada

Archeological sites and artifacts, including petroglyphs, are an important legacy of the cultural heritage of the Washoe People and other Native Americans in what is now northern Nevada. An example is a petroglyph boulder that was discovered and removed by archeologists during the construction of the Thomas Creek Trailhead, also a trailhead of the Rim to Reno Trail (Rim2Reno), which—considered as Reno to Rim Trail (Reno2Rim) from this point—leads through the Thomas Creek Canyon uphill toward the Mt. Rose and Bronco Creek wilderness.

A picture of that unique, partially lichen-covered petroglyph boulder can be seen on the interpretive panel displayed within the picnic area of the trailhead. It shows a series of shallow parallel grooves on the left side and geometric images on the right side. The artistic carvings and creations at petroglyph localities are generally thought to have served or guided humans within a ceremonial context. But nothing is known for sure and the great diversity of shapes and symbols—like those at the Lagomarsino Petroglyph Site east of Reno/Sparks (north of Lockwood)—inspire all kinds of speculations.

The Thomas Creek panel has this to contribute to the Mysteries In Stone discussion:

What were the Washoe communicating on these ancient petroglyphs? Archeologists may never know. The carvings may be stylized representations of plants and animals, or perhaphs the images commemorate an important event or religious ceremony. Whatever the message, these petroglyphs show the Washoe's intimate understanding, close relationship, and respect for their natural environment.

Further, the panel summarizes the Washoe-Tahoe history under the title Signs Along The Way

For thousand of years, the Thomas Creek Canyon provided abundant plants and animals for the Washoe people as they traveled along a seasonal travel route to Da ow a ga, or Lake Tahoe, the center of their homeland. Traditionally, they spent summers fishing at the lake, then moved to lower elevation valleys during the colder months. The area surrounding Thomas Creek Trailhead was a well used food gathering and processing place.

Have a pleasant trip, respect the signs along the Thomas Creek way and enjoy your passages through quaking aspen groves.

Keywords: history, culture, anthropology, archeology, archaeology, interpretations.

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