For thousands of years, indigenous people have used rock faces as means of communication. Petroglyphs are images, symbols, or designs scratched, pecked, carved, or incised on the surface of rock. These features are like whispers from the past and there are thousands of them at hundreds of sites in Petrified Forest National Park.
How do we know what petroglyphs mean? Interpreting images that are hundreds to thousands of years old is not easy. One method involves asking contemporary indigenous communities about the meaning of these images. On the rocks below are several examples of petroglyphs, including one that tribes have identified as a migration symbol, which is an important theme in Puebloan oral history.
The images on the right depicts circular faces on a dark rock surface. Modern groups identify these as Kachinas, or spirit beings in Pueblo religion and cosmology. Research suggests that the "Kachina Culture" arrived in this region circa A. D. 1300. Similar symbols, found on modern Puebloan pottery and weaving remind us of the continuity between prehistoric sites, like Puerco Pueblo, and the present.