Hunters and artists: Glen Canyon rock art created by an ancient culture on the move

Southwest Life

Hunters and artists: Glen Canyon rock art created by an ancient culture on the move

A Glen Canyon Linear face stares out from a sandstone cliff along the San Juan River. Glen Canyon images may be 3,000 to 5,000 years old. They represent a hunter-gatherer culture that preceded Basketmaker and ancestral Puebloan farmers.
Classic Glen Canyon Linear images seen on a fallen boulder include a variety of insect-like stick figures in remarkable detail. Many Glen Canyon Linear rock-art panels are buried under the waters of Lake Powell. The images on the fallen boulder now sit perpendicular to the ground.
A Glen Canyon Linear face stares out from a sandstone cliff along the San Juan River. Glen Canyon images may be 3,000 to 5,000 years old. They represent a hunter-gatherer culture that preceded Basketmaker and ancestral Puebloan farmers.
A rock art panel above the San Juan River shows the Glen Canyon Linear style with cross-hatching marks inside animal or anthropomorph figures.
A large boulder cleaved off a cliff thousands of years ago in San Juan County, Utah, and rolled down slope to stand upright. Glen Canyon Linear images are now perpendicular to the ground but clearly visible.

Hunters and artists: Glen Canyon rock art created by an ancient culture on the move

A Glen Canyon Linear face stares out from a sandstone cliff along the San Juan River. Glen Canyon images may be 3,000 to 5,000 years old. They represent a hunter-gatherer culture that preceded Basketmaker and ancestral Puebloan farmers.
Classic Glen Canyon Linear images seen on a fallen boulder include a variety of insect-like stick figures in remarkable detail. Many Glen Canyon Linear rock-art panels are buried under the waters of Lake Powell. The images on the fallen boulder now sit perpendicular to the ground.
A Glen Canyon Linear face stares out from a sandstone cliff along the San Juan River. Glen Canyon images may be 3,000 to 5,000 years old. They represent a hunter-gatherer culture that preceded Basketmaker and ancestral Puebloan farmers.
A rock art panel above the San Juan River shows the Glen Canyon Linear style with cross-hatching marks inside animal or anthropomorph figures.
A large boulder cleaved off a cliff thousands of years ago in San Juan County, Utah, and rolled down slope to stand upright. Glen Canyon Linear images are now perpendicular to the ground but clearly visible.

Hunters and artists: Glen Canyon rock art created by an ancient culture on the move

Tall and thin, classic Glen Canyon Linear images can be found in river drainages across the Four Corners. The style was first identified and named during salvage archaeology in Glen Canyon in the early 1960s, as archaeologists rushed to complete their work before dozens of sites were flooded by Lake Powell.

Hunters and artists: Glen Canyon rock art created by an ancient culture on the move

Deeply carved into a rock art panel high above the San Juan River flood plain, an insect-like Glen Canyon head stares back at us across centuries of time.

Hunters and artists: Glen Canyon rock art created by an ancient culture on the move

Archaic-era hunter-gatherers who lived on the Colorado Plateau and carved in the Glen Canyon Linear rock art style also crafted split-twig figurines. Found in caves in the Grand Canyon and at a variety of locations, 5,000-year-old figurines representing bighorn sheep or other animals have been discovered with tiny spears attached to them, perhaps to magically help hunters find and kill game. These two replica figurines are from the author’s collection and were purchased at the Havasupai Lodge at Supai Village in Havasu Canyon.
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