Saturday, January 17, 2015


Head of Sinbad, Emery County, UT.
Photograph Peter Faris, Aug. 1993.

On May 6, 2009, I posted a column titled “WHEN THE STARS FELL” about the November 12-13, 1833, Leonid meteor storm. On January 18, 2013, in a posting entitled METEORITES I speculated on the possibility of portrayals of meteorite observances in rock art. Then, on February 16, 2013, in METEORITES IN ROCK ART – CONTINUED? I expanded that to associate later Navajo Star Ceilings to the November 12-13 meteor storm of 1833. Now I wish to continue that thread with a Barrier Canyon Style panel (BCS) from Utah which appears to show two figures and a group of four meteors streaking through the sky. The panel in question is one of two remarkably well preserved panels located at Sinbad, in Utah. This site is located in the San Rafael Swell, in east central Utah.

Kenneth Castleton, Petroglyphs and Pictographs of
Utah, Volume One: The East and Northeast, 1984,
p. 133, Fig. 3.36.

This BCS rock art is usually dated by experts at from 6,000 to 7,000 years old. The two figures display the traits of classic Barrier Canyon Style (BCS). The left figure is a standard Barrier Canyon Style (BCS) figure with the goggle eyes, indeed, the eyes of this figure are a little more detailed than usual with what appears to be the iris of the eye portrayed as well. It is accompanied by the floating serpent so common the Barrier Canyon Style (BCS) figures on the  side. The figure on the right of the panel is not a standard BCS figure. It wears an ornate headdress and has a large pectoral on its chest. It has a bird flying just over its right shoulder, a group of small birds or insects flying around its headdress, and it holds a BCS standard plumed serpent in its left hand. Additionally, there are a group of symbols between the two figures above their shoulders which may represent birds seen flying from the front or back instead of in profile, and a row of seven small white figures between the two larger figures at approximately waist height.

Finally, to the right of the right hand figure are a group of four circles which are attached a cluster of lines extending out to the right, and looking like nothing more than four round things flying through the air and leaving a trail behind them. These are the figures that I am proposing as meteors.

1833 Meteor storm in White Swan Winter Count, from
Candace S. Greene and Russell Thornton, 2007, The
Year the Stars Fell: Lakota Winter Counts at the
Smithsonian, Smithsonian National Museum.

These shapes show enough similarity to many of the Winter Count portrayals of the 1833 Meteor Storm that I believe we have to consider the possibility that they too represent a group of meteors flying through the sky. They could either represent a dense meteor shower or storm (similar to the 1833 example, although BCS rock art is many thousands of years older), or a large meteor that has broken up into four pieces in the atmosphere. In Fall of 2012 I was lucky enough to observe a large fireball in the sky. As it fell pieces broke off and became smaller points of light on their own. This is known as a bolide and the pictographs at Sinbad could represent an effective attempted portrayal of that phenomenon.

It is also possible that these were meant to represent birds. Between the two figures are a half dozen small circles with lines sticking out on both sides, very like the possible meteors. These resemble birds seen from the front or back so that a wing is seen sticking out on both sides of the round body. These shapes are not included in Castleton's drawing but can be clearly seen in the photograph. We must keep this in mind as a possibility. I suggest that it is more likely however, that these are meant to be other meteors so what we are seeing is a proper meteor storm.

And, of course, not being able to resist the irony in the situation, you have caught me stating that this rock art panel illustrates four Flying Objects that are Unidentified, but I would much rather conclude that they are a meteors or a bolide than UFOs. 


Castleton, Kenneth B.,
1984    Petroglyphs and Pictographs of Utah, Volume One: The East and Northeast, Utah Museum of Natural History, Salt Lake City, Fig. 3.36, p. 133.

Greene, Candace S. and Russell Thornton
2007    The Year the Stars Fell: Lakota Winter Counts at the Smithsonian,  Smithsonian National Museum.

No comments:

Post a Comment