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Peering at Petroglyphs

November 04, 2019

Arizona has fascinating evidence of human history prior to the arrival of Europeans on the continent. One of the best ways to seek it out is through the Tucson area’s state and national parks—in particular, by perusing petroglyphs.

A petroglyph is a form of rock art, etched, pecked, or scraped into the surface of sandstone and other naturally occurring rocks. Most Southwestern rock art predates modern written history and may have been etched as far back as thousands of years ago by the people of the region.

Just 23 miles from Westward Look, Saguaro National Park is a hotspot for rock art. At Saguaro, most of the petroglyphs are credited to the prehistoric Hohokam people. You may stumble across representational etches of animals, humans, and astrological objects, or abstract designs such as spirals and squiggly lines.

If you want to dig a bit deeper into this ancient art form, you can schedule a visit at the Redemptorist Renewal Center (aka Picture Rocks Retreat), a private property that is home to an archaeological site containing at least 146 known panels of rock art, with an estimated 1,000 individual glyphs! Also credited to the Hohokam culture, these are estimated to have originated between A.D. 750 and 1350.

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