Saturday, July 24, 2010


On July 18, 2010, I published a posting about a number of reported petroglyphs in the Oklahoma Panhandle recorded by the ubiquitous Gloria Farley. I had been directed to the pictures and an article in the Winter 1978-1979 issue of Oklahoma Today magazine (Vol. 29, No. 1) (link below). This material had been kindly sent to me by someone named Catherine (last name anonymous). The article showed a number of supposed ship petroglyphs that had been recorded by Gloria Farley and interpreted by Barry Fell. Now Barry Fell has been proven to accomplish his interpretations from pretty loosely transcribed inscriptions and has even been known to alter what is there to make his “readings” come out right. I totally disagree with all of his claims and conclusions but I have to accept that others have the right to take this seriously.

I included the first two illustrations of supposed ships as Figures 1 and 2 in that July 18 posting, and I want to continue on this occasion.

Fig. 3. Identified as a Greek Roundship, ca. 500 B.C.

Figure 3 is identified as a Greek roundship of ca. 500 BC. Why is it not a petroglyph of a bird in front of a bunch of lines? With no photo or dating we cannot even adequately judge if the lines are even all part of the same image and of the same age, or represent a case of superimposition of a bird petroglyph over an abstract grid of lines.

Fig. 4. Identified as a Portugese ship, 1st Cent. A.D.

Now image number 4 does look like a ship - yes, even I can see that. However, what I see could have been created at any time up to the present. With no way to date the image all arguments about proof of ancient visitation fall apart. It could have been created the week or month before Gloria recorded it.
Fig. 5. A Rowing Ship, no sails.

Figure 5 – no sign of a ship – no resemblance, this one is just wishful thinking.

Fig. 6. Identified by Barry Fell as a Celtic yawl, 3rd Cent. A.D.

Figure 6 was identified as a Celtic ship by Barry Fell – enough said. I would like to suggest an alternative identity. I see this as an incomplete equestrian figure with an abstracted rider upon the body of an incomplete horse with the tail on the left. It might even have a brand on it in the initials on the body.

As I have explained previously I do not believe that Gloria Farley had any intention to deceive. She was, I believe, an enthusiastic amateur who believed that she was part of a great untold historic epic and that she was contributing to the truth and to human knowledge. I assume the same for Catherine (Anonymous) who sent me this material. And, were these stories of ancient Celtic, African and Middle Eastern expeditions wandering prehistorically around the Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico region actually true it would be a marvelously exciting story to be sure. The major fault for these figments has to be apportioned to Barry Fell who purposely made leaps of “truth” not back up by fact, and falsified data to support it. We have no proof in any of this, only varying degrees of maybe. Ernest Hemingway has been quoted as having said that “an artist needs a built-in crap detector”. That wouldn’t be bad advice for students of rock art either. What do you think?

The link to the Winter 1978-1979 issue of Oklahoma Today magazine (Vol. 29, No. 1): ttp://

1 comment:

  1. And then there is Brazil: