Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sears Point Archaeological District

For thousands of years, Native Americans and historic peoples were drawn to this isolated area of black mesas along what was the Gila River. On the mesas, among rocks blazed black by the desert sun, these peoples left their marks here at Sears Point, depicting life as it once was. Sears Point is a very special area that lies at a crossroad of historical events and cultures. It embraces a wide array of archaeological sites, including rock alignments, cleared areas, intaglios, petroglyphs, and aboriginal foot trails. This fragile evidence of human history spans thousands of years with some dating to the Archaic Period. The prehistoric cultures which are believed to have utilized this archaeological district between 10,000 BCE and 1450 CE include the Desert Archaic, Patayan, and Hohokam cultures.

Petroglyphs are designs or figures which have been pecked or scratched into rock surfaces. The Sears Point area has at least two miles of basalt cliff edges that exhibit petroglyph panels. It is estimated that several thousand petroglyphs exist within the area; however, the most impressive panels can be seen from the parking area. Many different design elements have been observed on these panels, including curvilinear, rectilinear, anthropomorphic, zoomorphic, abstract, and stylistic figures. In several places, flat basalt rocks were used for petroglyphs to mark trails. Several major petrophyph panels may be associated with Native American myths and legends. The Sears Point area also has historic petroglyphs. Many of these historic names and dates have been affiliated with early trappers and "49er" gold rush groups who passed through the area between 1840 and 1860.

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