Saturday, May 20, 2017


Anubis Cave, NW Oklahoma,
On spring equinox,
March 20, 2015.

From the beginning, the study of North American rock art has attracted interest from unorthodox places. Indeed, when I started studying rock art in the late '70s the idea of studying rock art was itself unorthodox. Most archaeologists approached it as if it were somehow dangerous or unclean. One was not supposed to draw any conclusions from imagery because it could not be scientifically tested. As my background was Art History I had a different attitude - thank goodness. This interest (passion really) has afforded me some of the most wonderful opportunities and experiences in my life.

Phil Leonard in Crack Cave,
southeast Colorado,
March 20,2004.

Early on the fields of archaeology and astronomy were conflated into the study of archeoastronomy. These studies were magically granted legitimacy because there were things that could be measured, predicted, and tested. Also, early in the process of legitimizing rock art studies the field of epigraphy appropriated a certain bandwidth in the spectrum of rock art studies. Insinuating itself between pictorial rock art and historic inscriptions, epigraphy dealt with inscriptions that some people believed were written in historic scripts and languages, usually from Europe, Asia, or the Middle East. 

The Denver Post, Sunday, 
September 18, 2005.

As I live in Colorado, the epigraphic controversy mostly revolved around inscriptions supposedly written in ancient Celtic ogam (oggam, ogham - do not write me to correct my spelling, all have been used) although Phoenician and others have been identified as well. Many of these inscriptions were found to involve archaeoastronomy sites, and the site and the inscription were often presented as proof of each other's authenticity. I happen to know that some of the archaeoastronomy sites actually work as advertised, I have seen them do it. On the other hand I do not personally buy into the epigraphy theories of visitors from the Old World leaving inscriptions in the American West. I have, however, known many of the people on both sides of these arguments and consider them to be friends. I also have friends that I do not agree with on religious or political matters so that has not been a major problem for me. Indeed, I sometimes feel that these arguments bring a new perspective and passion to discussions that can get a little dry.

What I am leading up to with this is the work of Scott Monahan. Monahan is a videographer and documentarian who has been recording archaeoastronomic sites for over 30 years, and attempting to confirm some of the claims of epigraphers. To many of my friends that latter automatically disqualifies him from any serious consideration. But, think about this -  thirty some years ago a rock with runes on it from North America woulds have been laughed out of the building, now that we know of three possible Pre-Columbian viking settlements in North America what should the reaction be?  
In Scott's own words, " is my project's home page for promotion to the general public.  It features a widescreen slideshow of static shots from my documentary, captioned in lieu of narration, at the top of the page. Beneath the slideshow are links to 3 featured videos: a trailer, a teaser and a prequel. The prequel rebuts a widely-held misconception in the academic community that Ogham written horizontally on flat surfaces is illegitimate.  I filmed plenty of examples in Ireland matching the style found in our area in a 1980s video survey of the Emerald Isle.  Also, a video of University of Calgary's David H. Kelley's introduction to the Ogham alphabet and its genesis is linked, prominently, from my home page." (Scott Monahan)

Further, he continued with, " frames the controversy we, as members of the Western Epigraphic Society in the late 80s and early 90s, encountered in trying to interest archaeological and anthropological authorities.  This webpage provides specific context and supporting detail my documentary cannot due to the limitations of the medium and the need to keep a general audience's attention.  Therefore, your rockartblog audience is encouraged to examine, as well, a collection of 9 published and unpublished works I've assembled to provide "drill-down" context to the videos I've created." (Monahan)

Take a look, give him a fair evaluation, Scott is a serious researcher, with a different approach and belief set than mine, but that does not mean he doesn't have some good ideas. You might enjoy it. I always do.

Monahan, Scott


  1. I was doing some research after viewing an old VHS video documentary called "History on the Rocks" that was filmed around 1985 and I came upon your blog. There is also an example of ogam in a cave (now covered with dirt to protect it) in the SW Denver area of the Colorado front range that I am wondering if you are aware of? It's a fascinating subject and I enjoyed looking at your resources.

  2. It now says that the site isn't safe or deleted which seems to come up alot when trying to research these sort of things.