Saturday, October 12, 2013


Close-up, Galisteo Dike, Santa Fe County, NM, 
Photograph: Peter Faris, Sept. 1988.

I have been commenting on what I consider to be egregious misinterpretations and outright falsifications by Barry Fell in his interpretation of rock art and rock inscriptions. In Saga America, (1980) Fell included the illustration of a famous rock art panel from Galisteo, New Mexico, also known as Comanche Gap.
Barry Fell, 1980, Saga America, p. 350.

“Petroglyph depicting the carved figurehead of a Viking ship recorded by Professor E. B. Renaud in 1938 from his site N.M.224 on the upper Rio Grande, New Mexico.” (Fell 1980:350)

This represents another example of Fell’s sloppy data. Far from being on the upper Rio Grande River as he states, it is found on the other side of the Sandia Mountains from Albuquerque, some 35 to 40 miles northeast of Albuquerque. It is a beautiful representation of Avanyu/Kolowisi/Palulukon, the horned water serpent of Pueblo mythology. Given that there is a water association in both the Pueblo horned water serpent and a Viking ship, there is no trace of cultural contact between the two peoples – ancestral Pueblo and Viking, and to state otherwise is to overlook fact and deny the truth.

Galisteo Dike, Santa Fe County, NM, 
Photograph: Peter Faris, Sept. 1988.

Fell has again totally ignored the rest of the rock art in a complex panel that includes a number of eagles and at least two snakes. To the Puebloan peoples the eagle symbolizes the spirit of the deity of “above” while the serpent represents the spirit of the deity of “below”. This is, in fact, a complex illustration of the interplay of the powers of above and below leading to balance in the world.

San Cristobal, Galisteo Basin, New Mexico. Polly 
Schaafsma, Rock Art in New Mexico, 1992, p.117.

Polly Schaafsma illustrated another panel nearby at the ruins of San Cristobal that shows the horned serpent in just the same way, even to the design around his throat. The caption for that illustration reads: "Fig. 148. Paired horned serpents and mask, San Cristobal, Galisteo Basin, Southern Tewa District. The checkerboard collar on the left-hand figure is typical and may signify corn. Photo by Karl Kernberger.” (Schaafsma 1992:117)

I am surprised that Fell did not appropriate that panel for his claims too. That way he could point to a whole fleet of Viking ships, and the ruins of San Cristobal could be a Viking city in the New Mexico desert. 

Barry, how could a Viking ship have reached the Galisteo Basin in New Mexico if it won't hold water?

This posting is the final one in my series debunking the epigraphy of Barry Fell. Not that such nonsense won't come up again in the future, but for now we will go back to a more positive focus on rock art. Thank you for following.


Fell, Barry
1980    Saga America, Times Books, New York.

Schaafsma, Polly
1992    Rock Art in New Mexico, Museum of New Mexico Press, Santa Fe. 

No comments:

Post a Comment