These petroglyphs, pecked into these rocks allow a glimpse of the life and world of the people who farmed the Puerco River Valley 650 to 2,000 years ago. More than 650 rock art designs--the largest concentration of petroglyphs in Petrified Forest National Park--adorn the boulders that tumbled to rest below the cliffs above.
The dark coating on the rock, called desert varnish presented an inviting opportunity for creativity. Ancient artists produced many types of figures and patterns by carefully pecking the coated rock surfaces with sharpened tools to remove the desert varnish and expose the lighter rock beneath.
What do the petroglyphs mean? No one knows for sure. We know that petroglyph styles change over time, but their meaning remains a mystery. Even so, petroglyphs provide a valuable resource for studying past cultures.