Friday, August 30, 2013


On August 3, 2013, I began a series of postings questioning the conclusions of Barry Fell and his fellow epigraphers back in the 1970s and 1980s. My first example was located in Picture Canyon, in Baca County, Colorado. I showed then that the casting of the petroglyph that Fell had done his translation from had been altered from the original. This example is also located in Picture Canyon, Baca County, Colorado.

Picture Canyon, Baca County, Colorado. 
Photograph: Peter Faris.

Fell’s description of his version of this image is:
“A finely executed cliff petroglyph of a horse, discovered by Gloria Farley in the Cimarron region, is unusual in having a Libyan brandmark shown H-N, “Fleet-of-foot.” In ancient Libya states were erected to successful racehorses, and perhaps this commemorates one such, though not an American cup winner. Replica, after photo by Gloria Farley.” (Fell 1980:286)   

From Barry Fell's Saga America, p.286.

Once again, by comparing the Fell’s illustration with a photograph of the actual image you can see a number of differences. One major difference is the depth of the groove. On the original there is a fine scratch as if made with the edge of a flake of hard stone or the tip of a knife blade. Indeed, without the added pigment the horse image would be difficult to trace. This really is more pictograph than petroglyph, and while on that subject notice that Fell's version omits what appear to be the faded remains of an image of a rider with the horse. Then we have the changes to the image itself. The head of the horse is very different from the actual pictograph, and the line of the left  hip of the horse is also changed. Fell has omitted the tail of the horse as well. Even the inscription which is the whole point to Fell has been changed. On the original this so-called Libyan brandmark is roughly circular or oval in outline and in Fell’s altered version it is squared off, presumably to make the interpretation more convincing.

Falsified data does not convince me. 


Fell, Barry

1980    Saga America, Times Books, New York

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