Saturday, August 14, 2010


Horned Lizard Petroglyph, p. 53, Astronomy
Magazine, April 2010, Winter solstice sunset
in notch in Sierra Estrella mountains.

Among rock art sites with solar alignments in South Mountain Park in Phoenix is the site illustrated with a sunset alignment. These rock art sites are identified as having been created by the Hohokam people.
City of Phoenix archaeologist Todd Bostwick photographed a winter solstice sunset with the sun’s disk disappearing into a notch in the Sierra Estrella mountains to the West from one site. Remarkably, the viewing point at this site is a pointed boulder with a petroglyph of a thick-bodied horned lizard, facing downward pecked on the face of it. If there were mythological connections between the setting sun and a horned toad/lizard this would be a remarkable piece of evidence.

Regal Horned Lizard, p.49, Wade C Sherbrooke,
Introduction to Horned Lizards of North America,
2003, University of California Press,
Berkeley and Los Angeles.

In his 2003 volume Introduction to Horned Lizards of North America, Wade Sherbrooke stated (p.149) that Hohokam art clearly depicted two species of horned lizard, the Short-horned lizard, and the Regal Horned lizard. Both of these species are found throughout the area inhabited by Hohokam peoples. The Latin name for the Regal Horned lizard is Phrynosoma solare, from the Latin solaris for “belonging to the Sun”.
These heat-loving lizards retire from the evening cool and the cold of the night by retreating into underground burrows or burying themselves in the sand. This may well be reflected in the downward facing position of the horned lizard in the picture of the Gila Vista site, implying the retreat of the lizard at the sundown being observed through this alignment, and possibly identifying this image as the Regal Horned Lizard.


Bostwick, Todd W.
2002   Landscape of the Spirits, Hohokam Rock Art at South Mountain Park, photographs by Peter Krocek, University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

Sherbrooke, Wade C.
2003   Introduction to Horned Lizards of North America, University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles.

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