Saturday, May 30, 2015


Three views of the Granby, Colorado
stone idol. From the 1925 report
by Samuel Hubbard.

In October and November of 1924, the Doheny Expedition to Havasupai canyon was fielded by the Oakland Museum, Oakland, California. Its purpose was to record an example of rock art that supposedly proved that dinosaurs and humans had coexisted. This expedition was led by Samuel Hubbard, director of the expedition and an honorary curator of archaeology at the museum, and accompanied by Charles W. Gilmore, Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the United States National Museum. The report on this expedition was written by Hubbard and published January 26, 1925. I have written about the question of the authenticity of their “dinosaur petroglyph”, the supposed “wooly rhinoceros of Moab, Utah”, and also a petroglyph supposedly showing a fight between a human and an elephant, separately.

The Granby, Colorado stone idol.
From the 1925 report
by Samuel Hubbard.
In this instance I want to present Hubbard’s account of a ‘stone idol’ supposedly found at Granby, Colorado, and included by Hubbard on pages 36 and 37 of his 1925 report on The Doheny Scientific Expedition to the Hava Supai Canyon, Northern Arizona, October and November, 1924, published by the Oakland Museum, of Oakland, CA.  

The Granby, Colorado stone idol.
From the 1925 report
by Samuel Hubbard.
These three views of what is probably a Stone Idol, were sent to me by Mr. F. V. Hammar of Saint Louis. In his letter of June 23rd, 1926, Mr. Hammar says: - “This queer relic was found by a man named Jordan near Granby, Colorado. Mr. Jordan was excavating for a garage or a cellar and uncovered this stone at a depth of 12 feet. He found many utensils, etc., in the same place, thus giving the presumption of a settlement. The stone is exceedingly hard green material, and like nothing ever known of in the neighborhood. It may have been brought from a distance.”

The Granby, Colorado stone idol.
From the 1925 report
by Samuel Hubbard.

This sculptured stone is of unusual interest to me because it shows carved in high relief, the figures of two dinosaurs and an elephant. The inscriptions are also of great interest, and some of them are similar to those I saw in the Supai Canyon.

It is significant that the dinosaur and elephant are close together in the Supai drawings, and here they are sculptured together on the back of the same figure.

      The dinosaurs suggest either the “brontosaurus” or the “diplodocus,” while the elephant has a long curved tusk.” (p.36)

One of the basic questions for art historians, curators, and even appraisers, is attribution. The question of who made this, or by which culture was it produced. Individual artists have their own personal (and recognizable) stylistic and technological characteristics. That is why you can tell a Matisse painting and a Manet painting apart. Their creators had differing physical and mental abilities and biases. The same goes for art and artifacts produced by one culture as opposed to another. Their (the cultures) members have differing visual and contextual preferences and assumptions and the artists work to fulfill their audiences’ expectations. You can see the differences between the art and artifacts produced by different cultures, especially if you are experienced in such evaluations and are sensitive to the norms of those cultures’ aesthetics.

In attempting such an evaluation with the Granby, Colorado, stone idol I deeply lament the poor quality of the images, but, from what I can see, it is very easy to recognize a modern fraud. The carvings that are visible fit into no known culture of New World history, or prehistory. I have made limited inquiries to try to ascertain if this “stone idol” still exists, either in Granby, Colorado, or in Saint Louis, but I have been unsuccessful. Perhaps a detailed personal examination would allow a different interpretation, but from what can be seen in the photographs, it is definitely a hoax.

Now, I certainly do not want to imply that I think that Hubbard was part of this hoax. My problem with Samuel Hubbard, Honorary Curator of Archaeology at the Oakland Museum, Oakland, California, and the Doheny Expedition that he led into Havasupai Canyon is only its (and his) lack of scientific rigor. His goal was not to gather data and see what the interpretation of that data revealed. His self-stated goal was to use the dinosaur “pictograph” and other discoveries to prove his theories about the antiquity of men and cultures in the New World.

“This canyon was first visited by the writer in November, 1894, and in February and March, 1895. Most of the matters of prehistoric interest described in this pamphlet, were observed at that time but their true significance was not fully recognized. Endeavors were made at various times to interest scientists in this discovery, but without avail.

            It is only within the past two or three years that discoveries made in Yucatan, Mexico, and the western states prove to the most conservative that a race or races of men of very great antiquity inhabited North America.

            The fact that some prehistoric man made a pictograph of a dinosaur on the walls of this canyon upsets completely all of our theories regarding the antiquity of man. Facts are stubborn and immutable things. If theories do not square with the facts then the theories must change, the facts remain.” (Hubbard 1925:5)

In this effort Hubbard has picked and chosen from a number of unrelated and questionable items to attempt to build a logical construct that will support his theory. To my mind, at least, he failed totally, and this fraudulent “stone idol” is the weakest link in the flimsy chain. I have stated before in other examples, there is a reason for the scientific method, and wandering away from it certainly led Samuel Hubbard astray.


Hubbard, Samuel
1925    The Doheny Scientific Expedition to the Hava Supai Canyon, Northern Arizona, October and November, 1924, Oakland Museum, Oakland, CA.

Saturday, May 23, 2015


While I will be the first to argue the validity of some aspects of the field known as archeoastronomy, I am also a critic of the empty assumptions made by some people who claim to be archeoastronomy researchers. The most egregious examples are in the multiple alignments some people find between rock art or archaeological features and the heavens. I actually once heard a presentation by a so-called serious researcher who was looking for alignments in a group of pits he found on a horizontal rock surface. He explained that in order to properly analyze this he had to purchase a new computer and software package, and in the end he came up with literally hundreds of alignments to different stars, constellations, planets, and phenomena throughout the year. The worst of all was that he did not see the irony in this proposal, even when he was asked what computer and software the ancient Native Americans had used to originally plot all of these alignments.
Fremont Indian petroglyph panel, Sego Canyon,
 Utah. Photograph: Peter Faris, June 1981.
One stellar sight that is apparently easy to misinterpret is the Pleiades. We know that they do have a place in the mythology of most of the ancient peoples of North America, and in some cultures they have ritual meaning as well. For some peoples their appearance marks the time to perform certain rites and ceremonies. To the Navajo the Pleiades or Seven Sisters are known as the Planter (Miller 1997:187). During nine months of visibility the Planter is seen after sunset in the Fall on the Eastern horizon, by mid-winter it is overhead after sunset, and in the Spring it slowly disappears over the Western horizon. The time of planting is reportedly indicated by Planter in the late Spring, early Summer (Cajete 2000:224). 
In this photo from Blanco Canyon (Chamberlain:207)
Dilyehe is the pattern in the center. Chamberlain has
identified a number of other Navajo panels which contain
dot patterns that he believes represent Dilyehe.

The same photo from Chamberlain
(2004:207) with an arrow marking
the Pleiades.

Dilyehe, the Planter, is thought of as feminine and as the mate to Atseetsozi, First Slim One (Orion’s belt and sword), because they accompany each other across the sky (Chamberlain 2004:211-213). I suspect that Von Del Chamberlain is correct in this interpretation. He is a serious scientific researcher, not given to wild statements based upon his imaginings instead of upon data.

Diagram of Sego Canyon panel
from Eaton (1999:128).
An example of the opposite can be seen in the illustrations from William M. Eaton. First off, he announced that examples of Native American portrayals of the Pleiades only show four dots. I cannot imagine where he got this as most legends refer to them as the "seven sisters". As an example of this he produced the Fremont panel from Sego Canyon, Utah where he found proof of this claiming an astonishing eight portrayals of the Pleiades in this one panel (a through h), although he actually seems to have missed the four dot pattern on the top of the symbol he has designated as "v". The problem is, as anyone who has actually visited Sego Canyon knows, that the dots on this panel are from gunshots, and have absolutely nothing to do with any Native Americans, prehistoric or otherwise. They were produced by cowboy vandalism.

Now I am not saying that Mr. Eaton is wrong in everything he claimed in his 1999 book, The Odyssey of the Pueblo Indians (although I had serious trouble with most of it). I even want him to be right on some of it because it would be so interesting. The trouble is like with all people who speak up without knowing what they are actually talking about. He just doesn't have a clue about rock art.

Don't quit looking, and don't quit trying to figure it out, just please use your common sense before you go way out on that limb like Eaton. Someone might shoot it off.


Cajete, Gregory
2000    Native Science, Natural Laws of Interdependence, Clear Light Publishers, Santa Fe.

Chamberlain, Von Del
2004    Father Sky on Mother Earth: Navaho Celestial Symbolism in Rock Art, pages 195-226, in New Dimensions in Rock Art Studies, edited by Ray T. Matheny, Museum of Peoples and Cultures Occasional Papers No. 9, Brigham Young University, Provo.

Eaton, William M.
1999    Odyssey of the Pueblo Indians, Turner Publishing Co., Paducah, KY.

Miller, Dorcas S.
1997    Stars of the First People, Pruett Publishing Co., Boulder, CO.






Saturday, May 16, 2015


Nogales Cliff House, New Mexico.
Photograph Peter Faris, 1993.

Back in 1993, our friends Bill and Jeannie took a group of people from the Denver Chapter of the Colorado Archaeological Society on a Rock Art and Ruins field trip in northern New Mexico. One of the great sites we visited was Nogales Cliff House, in Rio Arriba County. The basic ruin took a little scrambling to reach, and we did not even try to climb to the upper portion for fear of damaging walls by climbing on them, but the lower portion was quite wonderful in its own right.

Nogales Cliff House, New Mexico.
Photograph Peter Faris, 1993.

The Nogales Cliff house was built into and against an alcove in a sandstone cliff. The well-preserved section is actually within the alcove, and remains of some additional 30 – 50 rooms have been reported at the base in front of it. This site is attributed to the Gallina Phase that dated between A.D. 1000 and 1300 in this area. The Gallina Phase exhibited enough unique traits that they are usually considered a separate culture and not part of the general Ancestral Puebloan culture of the area. ( ) It is now assumed that access to the upper portions of the ruin was originally from the roofs of upper levels of the missing room block below.
Flying birds and human.
Nogales Cliff House, New Mexico.
Photograph Peter Faris, 1993.

My favorite feature was the painted panel of three birds flying over a watching human. Perhaps a record of fall or spring migration of geese or sandhill cranes, or a hunter's illustrated record, or just naturalistic decoration for the parlor wall?
Black and white painted wall.
Nogales Cliff House, New Mexico.
Photograph Peter Faris, 1993.
An additional painted feature is the wall with white and black patterning showing traces of geometric patterning, but it is in such bad condition that we could not tell what had been painted on it originally.
Good friends, a nice hike, a great ruin, and fascinating art; what more could one ask for?


Saturday, May 2, 2015



 Kit Carson, 1840, inscription. Photo by Dell Crandall.
In southeastern Colorado there are a couple of inscriptions on rock displaying the name of Kit Carson. Both of these are on private property and are jealously protected by the land owners. My photos in this posting were both taken by Dell Crandall and provided by him.

Kit Carson inscription. Photo by Dell Crandall.
“Christopher Houston “Kit” Carson (December 24, 1809 – May 23, 1868) was an American frontiersman and Indian fighter. Carson left home in rural present-day Missouri at age 16 and became a mountain man and trapper in the West. Carson explored the west to California, and north through the Rocky Mountains. He lived among and married into the Arapahoe and Cheyenne tribes. He was hired by John C. Fremont as a guide, and led ‘the Pathfinder’ through much of California, Oregon, and the Great Basin area. He achieved national fame through Fremont’s accounts of his expeditions.” (Wikipedia)
Portrait of Kit Carson.
 “Carson was a courier and scout during the Mexican-American war from 1846 to 1848, celebrated for his rescue mission after the Battle of San Pasqual and his coast-to-coast journey from California to deliver news of the war to the U.S. government in Washington D. C.. In the 1850s, he was Agent to the Ute and Jicarilla Apaches. In the Civil War he led a regiment of mostly Hispanic volunteers on the side of the Union at the Vattle of Valverde in 1862. He led armies to pacify the Navajo, Mescalaro, Apache, and the Kiowa an Comanche Indians. He is vilified for his conquest of the Navajo and their forced transfer to Bosque Redondo where many of them died. Breveted a general, he is probably the only American to reach such a high military rank without being able to read or write, although he could sign his name.” (Wikipedia)
 Carson home in Boggsville, CO.
"When the Civil War ended, and the Indian Wars campaigns were in a lull, Carson was breveted a General and appointed commandant of Ft. Garland, Colorado, in the heart of Ute country. Carson had many Ute friends in the area and assisted in government relations. After being mustered out of the Army, Carson took up ranching, settling at Boggsville in Bent County. In 1868, at the urging of Washington and the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Carson journeyed to Washington D.C. where he escorted several Ute Chiefs to meet with the President of the United States to plead for assistance to their tribe. Soon after his return, his wife Josefa died from complications after giving birth to their eighth child. Her death was a crushing blow to Carson. He died a month later at age 58 on May 23, 1868, in the presence of Dr. Tilton and his friend Thomas Boggs. His last words were "Goodbye, friends. Adios, compadres". Carson died from an abdominal aortic aneurysm in the surgeon's quarters of Fort Lyon, Colorado." (Wikipedia) Kit and Josefa were originally buried at Boggsville, just a little south of Fort Lyons in Bent County, Colorado, but were later moved to their current resting place at Taos, New Mexico.
 The original grave of Kit and Josefa
at Boggsville, CO. Photo Peter Faris.
 There is a fascinating story about another Kit Carson inscription. Supposedly there was a Kit Carson inscription on Morro Rock in New Mexico that had been carved there during Carson’s Canyon de Chelley expedition. In the 1950s the park supervisor there sent out Navajo work crews with powered hand grinders to remove a lot of the inscriptions and markings that he felt were irrelevant to the history and artistic value of the monument. This represents government sponsored vandalism on a truly staggering scale, and the strange, smoothed patches remaining still mar the rock face in many locations and testify to this destruction. According to this story one of the Navajo crew members took the opportunity to also get even with Kit Carson by grinding his name off of the rock at that time.
Now we come to the question – are the Carson inscriptions genuine? Although he was functionally illiterate he did learn to write his name because he had to sign reports when he was in the military. The truth is, however, he is not known to have ever personally used the nickname “Kit” when signing his name. If these inscriptions date back to the time of his life they were made by someone else, perhaps one of the men under his command. The ranch which one of the signatures is found on has been in the same family for a number of generations and they are convinced that it has been there all that time. I think that the answer has to be yes, they are genuine as to that time and place, but were probably not carved by Carson himself. They do, however, provide a portal to a fascinating period in the history of the Western United States and Colorado.