|Equinox Shadow representation|
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
The man who did so much for these enigmatic sites was William McGlone who lived in the La Junta area. He was a retired engineer who served in the Navy. McGlone was a very scientific man who always wanted his discoveries and theories verified by outside sources. He enlisted the aid of many fellow engineers and scientists in deciphering the Ogham. To McGlone, some of these rock carvings appeared to be much more than mere doodles in stone, or the graffiti of Native Americans. He saw writing, with letters and repeated symbols. Over the years, McGlone had attempted to identify these letters and, shortly before his death in 1999, he had made a reasonable argument that some of the petroglyphs were from an Arabic alphabet which would have been used by Turkish sailors around 500 BC.
Crack Cave is located just north of the Colorado/Oklahoma state line. The area where it is found is called Picture Canyon. The abundance of petroglyphs here gave rise to the name Picture Canyon. Inside one of the many crevasses that might be called a cave is an archaeo-astronomical site that is only observable on the Spring & Autumn Equinoxes. 3 sets of Ogham inscriptions are found inside - the first which is located at the back of the cave, translates to the Celtic Sun God. On the South wall the inscription reads, People of the Sun.
On the north wall is the third inscription - The Sun Strikes Here on the Day of Bel (Bel is short for Belenus, the Celtic Sun God's name). This last glyph is the one illuminated at sunrise on the Equinoxes. Above this last glyph are count marks which tell how many days to the Equinox. The morning of the Equinox, all the marks are illuminated. Today, the cave opening is protected with a metal grate to prevent vandalism but the gate is opened on the equinoxes by the park rangers to allow the public to view the alignment.
Sun Temple is located to the NW of Crack Cave (about halfway to La Junta from Springfield). It consists of a small cave with the majority of its glyphs on the roof of the cave. Here is the inscription of a rare triple planetary alignment of Venus, Jupiter and Saturn that occurred within the constellation of Gemini. The words NOBLE TWINS has been translated from Ogham script. This alignment occurred on a cross-quarter day - August 471 AD. A cross-quarter day is one which occurs halfway between an equinox and solstice. Another archaeo-astronomical alignment is here. One which only occurs at the Spring & Autumn cross quarter days. Near it are the words Season for Reaping. Because the Sun Temple wasn't discovered until 1982, the patina on the petroglyphs had been preserved. In 1987, a man who is now a Prof. of Geology at Arizona State University sampled the patina or rock varnish that was embedded in the grooves of various petroglyphs. His results showed that some dated back to 2700BC
Rock varnish accumulates on the outside of rocks. Rock varnish is made up of a coating of approximately 70% clay particles combined with mineral deposits of iron and manganese oxides - - all probably wind-blown material that settled on the surface of rock. Other minerals mixed into the varnish composition include hydroxides plus silica and calcium carbonate. These ingredients are cemented to the rock surface by living bacteria. The bacteria reside within and beneath the microscopic layers of varnish, and are usually absent from the exposed surfaces. Exactly how rock varnish is formed is not completely known, but one theory is that varnish formation is a means by which these microbes protect themselves in their exposed, extreme environments. Manganese oxides in rock varnish block the transmission of ultraviolet radiation. Rock varnish forms very slowly and becomes thicker and darker as it ages. Many older deposits become almost black. By closely examining and measuring the varnish coat, geologists are able to measure how long the rock's surface has been undisturbed. Radio carbon dating can be used to date the petroglyphs to give a ballpark age. The science of dating petroglyphs by using the rock varnish is still in the formative stages.
The Pathfinder site is located high above the Purgatoire River valley South of La Junta, Colorado. It was originally discovered in 1996. McGlone and a colleague recognized that Pathfinder had the potential for being a calendar site because it receives direct sunlight at the moment of first light. On Pathfinder's rock face, a distinct shadow is cast from an adjacent rock onto a prominent and unique target-like petroglyph indicating the potential for marking time.
Pathfinder is a 40 X 12 foot slab of sandstone rock with a flat, East facing surface covered with petroglyphs. A large boulder to the East leans onto the southern half of the Pathfinder, creating a cave. The extended northern part of the Pathfinder panel is exposed to the direct sunlight at sunrise with a distinct shadow cast by the adjoining boulder.
The Pathfinder site has a vast array of images. The most noticeable is the howling dog petroglyph which has an interesting stream of symbolic figures emanating from its mouth.
To the South of Dog, more petroglyphs are distinguishable. Most notable is a large wing-like or sail-like image with horizontal lines. This is the equinox Target for the shadow created by the adjacent boulder to the East. The Target and the Dog glyphs are the largest and most prominent petroglyphs on Pathfinder. Below the Target are a series of petroglyphs including a human figure, abstract and representational animal glyphs.
At sunrise on the day of the equinox, the Dog glyph is illuminated by the first light. The shadow created by the adjacent boulder emerges at dawn and begins to engulf the Target. As the sun rises, the shadow edge fits the northern outline of the Target. Because of the cave-like conditions for much of the rock face, it wasn’t possible to observe or photograph Pathfinder in its entirety. Only by drawing details of the photos taken was the panel able to be re-created. At least two different styles of petroglyphs can be seen: earlier abstract characters and figures and later representational petroglyphs. There are also unique sequences of parallel lines, but they were too worn to be distinguishable.
A Native American archaeo-astronomical petroglyph was also found at Pathfinder. It is believed to be of Changing Woman, a person found in many Native Tribal Stories. Changing Woman is crossed with a dagger of light on the Equinoxes.
Many scientists feel that there should be physical evidence or artifacts to support the claim that the grooves are Ogham writing. There probably were artifacts at one time but repeated flash flooding through the centuries has washed away or covered up any artifacts that may have been there. The fact that most of the petroglyph panels are 10ft or more above the bottom level of the canyons and arroyos supports this theory of flash flooding stripping away the soils found in the bottom of the canyons.