Rock Art: A Primer

Indigenous people in this region created rock art for many reasons – to tell a story, to convey religious or spiritual beliefs, to record a significant event, and to express themselves artistically. Rock art is not a true writing system, but uses symbols and figures to convey a message.

Parowan Gap Petroglyphs Photo: Alex Santiago Courtesy of Cedar City Brian Head Tourism Bureau

Parowan Gap Petroglyphs
Photo: Alex Santiago
Courtesy of Cedar City – Brian Head Tourism Bureau

Rock art is evident in caves, on cliff walls and on boulders. Rock art occurs all over the world, some as old as 30,000 years. Rock art in this region dates back as long ago as 1000 B.C (Great Basin Curvilinear style) and as recently as A.D. 1800’s (Southern Paiute).

 

 

VOCABULARY

  • Rock Art: A general term for the pecking, incising, or painting of designs onto rock surfaces.
  • Petroglyph: A design chiseled or chipped out a rock surface.
  • Pictograph: A design painted on a rock surface.

Here are some sites in our area to see some of the world’s most amazing rock art:

Parowan Gap

Fremont Indian State Park

Lion’s Mouth Cave

Anasazi Ridge

Remember whether visiting these sites or discovering any of Utah’s incredible rock art sites, please be respectful. Many sites are legally protected and criminal prosecution could result from any form of defacement.

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