Saturday, December 26, 2020


Cosmic egg with DNA carved on it.

I am pleased to announce the coveted 2020 C.R.A.P. (Certifiable Rock Art Prevarication) AWARD. This award is given out once a year by RockArtBlog to the most egregious example of Certifiable Rock Art Prevarication (CRAP). The winner this year goes to a well-known fringie and Atlantis researcher Peter Daughtry for discovering a cosmic egg with a picture of DNA carved on it. Daughtry is touted by Graham Hancock, author of “Magicians of the Gods,” previously commemorated on RockArtBlog for his discovery of an extinct toxodon carved on a monolith at Tiahuanaco, Bolivia, (Faris 2019) which must surely lend to his credibility.

“Found by British researcher and author of ‘Atlantis and the Silver City’ Peter Daughtrey, the intriguing object composed entirely out of stone was found in Algarve, Portugal and is believed to date back over 7,000 years. Its peculiar characteristics - like the design of what seems to be the double helix of DNA - makes this ‘cosmic’ egg one of the most intriguing objects found to date. Interestingly, the double helix model wasn’t found until 1953. The obvious questions we need to ask - if it is in fact the Double helix of DNA - is how sugh a symbol could exist on a stone egg that some say was carved approximately 7,000 years ago.” (Ancient Code) This remarkable discovery was made near the town of Silves in the Algarve region of Portugal.

Now housed at the Lagos Museum in Algarve, Spain.

“Archaeological finds have shown that the double spiral is an artistic motif routinely found on a variety of ancient artifacts. Sometimes it is represented as two snakes wrapping around each other or a common stalk, like in the case of Herme’s staff, known as a caduceus, meaning herald’s staff. What boggles the mind is the fact that modern science refuses to make the connection between this archaic symbol and the stuff that makes us who we are - DNA.” (ufoholic)

“Daughtry is convinced this is no coincidence or the result of artistic expression falling down on convergent designs. Furthermore, he believes the proximity of Silves to the Straight of Gibraltar and the Pillars of Hercules might warrant a possible connection to Atlantis. In all truthfullness, if there ever was an ancient civilization that possessed the power to peek inside a cell’s nucleus, the Atlanteans would be a safe bet.” (ufoholic)

So what is a cosmic egg anyway? Many religious creation stories from cultures around the world include a creation by hatching from a cosmic egg. “The concept was figuratively re-adapted by modern science in the 1930s and explored by theoreticians during the following two decades. Current cosmological models maintain that 13.8 billion years ago, the entire mass of the universe was compressed into a gravitational singularity, a so-called ‘cosmic egg’ from which it ‘hatched’ - expanded to its current state following the Big Bang.” (Wikipedia)

So now, in order to give full and proper credit to Peter Daughtry’s discovery we need only believe in mystical cosmic eggs, the lost continent of Atlantis, and that 7,000 years ago these Atlanteans knew about the structure of DNA.

Who better to discover a cosmic egg with a picture of human DNA on it than a man who writes books about the lost continent of Atlantis? Aren’t we lucky that it turned out to have human DNA on it when it created the universe. Who knows what we would have turned out to be if it had something else pictured on it?

And for this momentous discovery, RockArtBlog awards Peter Daughtry and his ‘cosmic egg with DNA pictured on it’ the 2020 C.R.A.P. Award - congratulations.

NOTE: Some images in this posting were retrieved from the internet with a search for public domain photographs. If any of these images are not intended to be public domain, I apologize, and will happily provide the picture credits if the owner will contact me with them. For further information on these reports you should read the original reports at the sites listed below.


Ancient Code, Does this 7,000-year-old ‘Cosmic Egg ‘depict the earliest illustration of DNA?,

Faris, Peter, 2019, Extinct Animals in Rock Art - the Tiahuanaco Toxodon, February 16, 2019,

Saturday, December 19, 2020






CHRISTMAS 2020    

FROM RockArtBlog   



 Have a very Merry


A Happy New Year's


and all the best in



5,000 year old pictographs of a family, Egyptian Sahara desert. Photo: Marco Morelli, after

Saturday, December 12, 2020


Petroglyph Park, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Photo Peter Faris, September 1988.

For quite some time the question of whether the production of rock art was sometimes influenced by the use of hallucinogenic plants has been debated. In recent years discoveries in the American Southwest have cast light on this question and provided an answer of “Yes, the production of rock art was sometimes influenced by the use of hallucinogenic plants.”

Distinctive triangle pattern, from Pastino, 2015.

“Over a swath of the Chihuahuan Desert stretching from Carlsbad to Las Cruces, at least 24 rock art panels have been found bearing the same distinctive pictographs: repeated series of triangles. Hallucinogenic plants were found growing beneath the triangle designs, including a particularly potent species of wild tobacco and the potentially deadly psychedelic known as datura.” (Pastino 2015)

Coyote tobacco (Nicotiana attenuata), Internet photo from Wikipedia.

For years Dr. Lawrence Loendorf has noted the presence of coyote tobacco, Nicotiana attenuata, growing at rock art sites. “Nicotiana attenuata is a species of wild tobacco known by the common name coyote tobacco. It is native to western North America from British Columbia to Texas and northern Mexico, where it grows in many types of habitat.” (Wikipedia) This species of tobacco is considerably stronger in some of the alkaloids that can affect the human brain, and Loendorf realized that the ancient artists my have been purposely growing it for use in trancing at the same ceremonial sites that sport the rock art.

Datura growing in Canyon de Chelley, Arizona, Photo Peter Faris, 2001

Closeup of Datura blossom, Wikipedia.

Another plant commonly noticed at rock art sites is Datura. “Although opinions have varied greatly, the home of the entire genus is likely Mexico or Central America.” (Sorenson and Carl Johannessen 2009:189)

Malotki (1999) agrees, stating that: “In addition to Datura, among the hallucinoganic plants available to Pastyle people (Palavayu anthropomorphic style) within the confines of northeastern Arizona, were Indian tobacco (Nicotiana trogonophylla), Four o’clock (Mirabilis multiflora), and the mushroom species psilocybe (Psilocybe coprophilia) and fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) (Hevly, personal communication 1998). Of these, Datura appears to be the most qualified to have served the ancient hunters and gatherers in their exploitation of hallucinogens and conscious-altering agents.” (Malotki 1999:115-6 )

“Researchers believe that the plants may be a kind of living artifact, left there nearly a thousand years ago by shamans who smoked the leaves of the plants in preparation for their painting.” (Pastino 2015)

“I think almost certainly that they’re trancing on this stuff,’ said Dr. Lawrence Loendorf, president of the archaeological firm Sacred Sites Research, of the ancient artisans. ‘I think there’s a real good chance they’re using tobacco in large enough amounts that they’re going into altered states of consciousness, and I think that’s how [the hallucinogenic plants] are getting there. They’re getting to those sites because they were used for special ceremonial purposes.’” (Pastino 2015)

Pinwheel cave, California. internet photo,

So up until now we have had convincing, but only circumstantial evidence of the use of hallucinogens in the creation of some rock art in the American southwest. The question has now been answered with apparent certainty by the discovery of a number of chewed fibrous quids in southern California’s Pinwheel Cave, that, when analyzed, proved to be the remains of datura (chewed, presumably for trancing) in conjunction with a pictograph of what appears to be an unfolding datura blossom.

Red pinwheel pictograph, Pinwheel cave, California. Photo Devlin Gandy.

“The cave gets its name for a large, red, pinwheel-shaped drawing on its ceiling; some archaeologists have hypothesized it represents a genus of the psychoactive flower Datura. The flower contains the alkaloids scopolamine and atropine, which are considered an entheogen - a psychoactive compound used in a spiritual context. The Chumash people of Southern California called the experiences triggered by ingesting Datura “sacred dreams,” according to Jim Adams, a pharmacologist at the University of Southern California who spent 14 years studying sacred Chumash Datura ceremonies.

When David Robinson, an archaeologist at the University of Central Lancashire, and his colleagues began to excavate the site in 2007, they found chewed remnants of plant materials - also known as quids - pushed into cracks in the ceiling of the cave. Initial attempts to extract DNA from the quids came up short. But now, a combination of new chemical analyses and electron miscroscopy has positively identified the plant as Datura, the teams reports today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. ‘I was like, ‘Wow, we found the smoking gun of hallucinogens at a rock art site,’’ Robinson says.” (Schultz 2020)

Datura blossom opening, Wikipedia.

So now we have not only a pictograph that seems to represent the spiral arrangement of a partially opened datura blossom, we also have physical remains of datura chewed by humans and then carefully pushed into cracks in the ceiling of the cave - in other words, treated specially, and found in close conjunction with the image. This would seem to be an open-and-shut case.

Signal Hill, Tucson, Arizona, Photo Jack and Esther Faris, 1990.

Squash blossom or Datura, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Photo Peter Faris,  1988.

On November 1, 2014, I posted a column titled Hopi Clan Registers As A Rock Art Lexicon For The Southwest - Squash Blossoms. In this column I suggested that petroglyphs of flowers found in Petroglyph Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and at Signal Hill, Tucson, Arizona, were perhaps meant to represent squash blossoms. It appears that now I have to add the possibility that these images may represent Datura blossoms. Squash blossoms have ceremonial uses for Puebloan peoples and must have as well for Ancestral Puebloan peoples. Now we have confirmation that Datura has been related to rock art (at least in that one instance) I feel that I must also accept the possibility that these petroglyphs of flowers could represent Datura as well.

NOTE: Some images in this column were retrieved from the internet with a search for public domain photographs. If any of these images are not intended to be public domain, I apologize, and will happily provide the picture credits if the owner will contact me with them. For further information on these reports you should read the original reports at the sites listed below.

REFERENCES:, Nicotiana attenuata,

Faris, Peter, 2014, Hopi Clan Registers As A Rock Art Lexicon For The Southwest - Squash Blossoms, November 1, 2014,

Malotki, Ekkehart, 1999, The Use of Hallucinogenic Plants by the Archaic-Basketmaker Creators of the Rock Art of the Palavayu, Northeast Arizona: The Case for Datura, in American Indian Rock Art, Volume 25, Steven M. Freers, editor, American Rock Art Research Association, 1999, pp. 101-120.

Pastino, Blake, 2015, Hallucinogenic Plants May Be Key to Decoding Ancient Southwestern Paintings, Expert Says, December 31, 2015,

Schultz, David, 2020, Californian Cave Artists May Have Used Hallucinogens, Find Reveals, 23 November 2020,

Sorenson, John L., and Carl L. Johannessen, 2009, World Trade and Biological Exchanges Before 1492, iUniverse Inc., New York.

Saturday, December 5, 2020


Wellsville site petroglyphs at Dam No. 8, Ohio River. Internet photo, Public Domain.

An early attempt to record Native American petroglyphs located at what is now called the Wellsville Site on the Ohio River was made by one Benjamin Henfrey. In 1798 he made a number of drawings of these petroglyphs and sent them to then Vice-president Thomas Jefferson. It should be noted that the Wellsville Site is in the same general region as the Smith’s Ferry Site that may have been observed by George Washington in 1770 leading us to wonder if George had seen these as well.


Drawing by Benjamin Henfrey, 1798, Founders Online, National Archives.

Benjamin Henfrey was an English born Geologist and entrepreneur who had emigrated to the United States before 1791. He apparently tried to make a living as a private assayer in Philadelphia. He was also involved in promoting a series of unsuccessful mining ventures. He also apparently traveled in the new US territories prospecting for potential mineral development.

Drawn by Harold Barth, 1908. From Swauger, 1974.

“ Although few details of Henfrey’s travels are known, he was at Fort Wayne in June 1798. He had obtained the release of a captive held by the Potawatomi Indians, which probably means that he had been in the westernmost parts of the Northwest Territory.”  (Founders Online 2016)

                Benjamin Henfrey, 1798.

  Harold Barth, 1908. From Swauger, 1974.

The drawings and text are from a letter to Thomas Jefferson dated 31 December 1798, by Benjamin Henfrey.

I have attempted to preserve the original spelling and punctuation. “These Curious Hieroglyphs, are Picked in lines on a very hard Black Granite rock the surface even and horizontal, the marks of a Tool was very visible in the lines. There was upwards of a hundred more but I had not time to take them Consisting of different Beasts & Fishes. I also observed many that was evidently meant to represent the feet of Animals, and was Very natural -

I thought that some was meant to describe Certain roads having that resemblance -

The rock on which these Hieroglyphics are picked out exhibits a plain surface equal to a square of about 20 Feet - the river here was deep, I put down a pole about 12 Feet and could feel the rock continue to the bottom

The man (John Hooton) who informed me of this rock says that it is the best place for Fish near his settlement and my Opinion lies that the Indians may have amused themselves in making those figures when fishing there and that they were Cut or Picked out at many different times, I have inquired respecting this Idea of many Savages but I never met with one who could give me any information on the subject - B. Henfrey” (Founders Online 2016)

“John Hooten (Hooton) died in March 1798 when his canoe capsized in the Ohio River about 50 miles below Pittsburgh..”  (Founders Online 2016)

“Rock on which these figures are cut: the petroglyphs drawn by Henfrey were along the Ohio River in what became Columbiana County, Ohio. Archaeologists identify the location as the Dam No. 8 site. It has also been called the Wellsville site. Most of what is known of the pictures of animals, people, mythological creatures, and geometric designs incised in the sandstone there comes from information collected in 1908 and 1909, before the construction of a dam destroyed some of the images and put the others beneath water and mud. Some published illustrations of the pictures, taken from rubbings made before the site was flooded, are mirror images of the petroglyphs as Henfrey saw them and drew them.”  (Founders Online 2016)

Benjamin Henfrey, 1798.

Harold Barth, 1908. From Swauger, 1974.

In 1802 Henfrey received a patent on a method of providing gas light to cities and buildings from coal. In the end nothing came from Henfrey’s many schemes and he reportedly died in poverty in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.

                      Benjamin Henfrey, 1798.

Harold Barth, 1908. From Swauger, 1974.

As in so many early records of rock art the actual images often have little in common with the supposed record, many of the drawings seemingly have been “improved” in the copying and bear little resemblance to the originals, but then some are surprisingly accurate.

The site and its rock art were later drawn in 1908 by a local, Harold Barth, and many of Barth's drawings were used by James Swauger in his 1974 book Rock Art of the Upper Ohio Valley (see references).

NOTE: In transcribing Benjamin Henfrey's letter a number of his spellings were changed to modern usages.

Some images in this posting were retrieved from the internet with a search for public domain photographs. If any of these images are not intended to be public domain, I apologize, and will happily provide the picture credits if the owner will contact me with them. For further information on these reports you should read the original reports at the sites listed below.


“Benjamin Henfrey’s Drawings of Petroglyphs, 31 December 1798, [document added in digital edition],” Founders Online, National Archives, [This document from The Papers of Thomas Jefferson is original to the digital edition. It was added on 30 June 2016.]


Swauger, James, Rock Art Of The Upper Ohio Valley, January 1, 1974, Akadem. Druck-u, Verlagsanst Publisher.

Saturday, November 28, 2020


Neolithic hunt, 7th millenium BC. hunter, hounds, 2 buffalo, leopard on right, Jabal Raat Shuwaymis, p. 18.

A fascinating article by  Christopher Baumer in the August/September 2020 issue of World Archaeology Magazine gives a relatively complete introduction to rock art of the Saudi Arabian desert interior and new discoveries by recent expeditions.

Neolithic anthropomorph with a boomerang Talaat al-Salaby, Great Nefud desert. p. 21

“The interior of Saudi Arabia is a land of sweeping deserts and unforgiving climate. In the south lies the Rub’ al-Khali - the Empty Quarter, which is the largest pure-sand desert in the world - while the north holds the Great Nefud Desert. Its sea of reddish to light-beige sand is rimmed by a belt of sandstone mountains and outcrops. Rain is minimal, with less than 100 ml falling per year, against an evaporation potential of about 4,500 ml a year. But, as with the Sahara or the Taklamakan deserts, earlier climatic conditions in Arabia were not as hostile to life as those prevailing today. Examining former lake sediments indicates that the Arabian peninsula experienced several climate fluctuations. Back in the Chibanian and Upper Pleistocene periods, for example, lakes existed in the Nefud around 410kya (‘thousand years ago’), 320 kya, 125 kya, and 100kya.” (Baumer 2020:16)

Talaat al-Salaby, in the Great Nefud desert. Bronze age  male and female pastoralists over earlier long-horned bull and ibexes, p. 16.

These climatic shifts and changes in weather patterns can be dated through sediments in relic lake beds. These dates can then be compared with the types of animals pictured on rock faces to give rough chronologies for the rock art - some types of animals would only have been there in wetter conditions, others favored dryer conditions, etc.

“Dating rock art is notoriously difficult, but in Saudi Arabia many motifs are only known to appear in specific time periods, so they can offer a rough indication of their age. As Maria Guagnin has shown the use and reuse of some rockfaces as a canvas for this artistry has created superimposed banks of imagery dating to many different periods. Such palimpsests make it possible to sketch a relative chronology, which can then be connected with the direct dating achievable through archaeology.” (Baumer 2020:17)

“Rising temperatures at the beginning of the Holocene, around 10,000 BC, vanquished the colder and very dry climate of the Late Pleistocene. Arabia also experienced a moist period, mainly driven by the Indian Ocean Monsoon Current extending north-west. This first makes its mark on the south-eastern portion of the Arabian peninsula, but after a lag of c.1,700 years the Nefud Desert began receiving summer monsoons too, although in reduced quantity. Lakes formed, which were replenished in the winter months by rainfall delivered by Mediterranean westerly cyclones, and the landscape duly resembled a savanna more than a desert.” (Baumer 2020:17)

A crucifix image found near the Wadi al-Naqha, Rub’ al-Khali, p. 23. 

Changing climactic conditions as well as cultural evolution led to a series of changing cultures, and this is illustrated in the rock art.

“As this rapid overview reveals, the relation between climate, economy, and rock art can be divided into six phases:

•  First, in the wet, early Holocene, a hunter-gatherer economy is reflected in petroglyphs featuring hunting and wild carnivores and herbivores.

•  Second, in the era of Neolithic pastoralism, when the region still enjoyed a relatively humid climate, images of pastoralists and domesticated cattle and goats predominate.

Late Bronze Age rock art found during our expedition. In the Misma South region of the Great Nefud Desert

Late bronze age boat, northern half of the great ridge at Hafirat Laqat, Nefud Desert, p. 20

•  Third, in the late Neolithic and Bronze Age, the resurgence of arid conditions led to a decline of semi-settled pastoralism and a resumption of hunting, mirrored in the use of bows and arrows, as well as spears, to kill goats, gazelles, and wild dromedaries.

Wadi al-Naqha, apparent female moon deity (on the left), a musician playing a lyre, and a standing warrior holding three spears; in his belt is a lunate pommel dagger, probably later Iron Age in date.

•  Fourth, in the Iron Age, the domestication of the dromedary brought a new mobility to the region. Rock Art now featured dromedaries and donkeys, as well as numerous brief inscriptions, the latter probably carved by travelling merchants.

“Bedouin horsemen attacking with long lances at Fardat Sheyban, Rub’ al-Khali. Each lance has discs behind the iron tip to prevent it from penetrating so far into an enemy’s body that it can no longer be pulled free.”, p. 19

•  Fifth, in the pre-Islamic period, continued aridisation led to increasingly bellicose societies. This development is mirrored in battle scenes and duels involving mounted lancers and archers, as well as infantry.

•  The sixth, contemporary phase of rock art shows hunters armed with guns, as well as cars and trucks.” (Baumer 2020:19)

A visual pun, a rounded swastika or double cross made of four ibex, p. 20.

Presumably in Baumer’s fifth period, the increase in combat and warfare seen in rock art would have been largely influenced by the drying up of water resources over time and the struggle to dominate the shrinking resource.

Saudi Arabia’s rock art not only documents the changing lifestyles of inhabitants over the millenia, it also records the fauna and flora. Inscriptions in a number of languages document the various cultures and religious symbols and inscriptions attest to the people’s beliefs at various times and places. All in all, it provides a very rich record of the people and cultures of this region over at least ten thousand years.

NOTE: These photos are all from the article "Saudi Arabian Rock Art", pp 16 - 23, World Archaeology magazing.


Baumer, Christopher, 2020 Saudi Arabian Rock Art, pp. 16-23, World Archaeology Magazine, Issue 102, August/September 2020, Vol. 9, No. 6

Saturday, November 21, 2020


Qubbet El-Hawa, Egypt. Photo David Sebel.

A recently discovered petroglyphs at Qubbet El-Hawa (Cave of the Winds) along the Nile river in Egypt is estimated to be 6,000 years old. "The image, discovered recently by archaeologists, provides a tantalizing glimpse of Egypt's Neolithic period, or Stone Age. It likely dates back to the latter half of the fourth millenium B.C., said Ludwig Morenz, and Egyptologist at the University of Bonn in Germany." (Pappas) This date would mean that the images at Qubbet El-Hawa predate the pharaohs and provide a glimpse into very early life along the Nile river.

     Qubbet El-Hawa, Egypt. Photo David             Sebel - photo enhanced.

"Qubbet el-Hawa is a site on the western bank of the Nile, opposite Aswan. The name is derived from the dome of the tomb of an Islamic sheikh, but archaeologically, it is usually understood as referring to the site of the tombs of officials lined up on artificial terraces below the summit of the Nile bank upon which the Islamic tomb stands." (Wikipedia)

Panel with conceptual drawing of what they think they see. David Sabel.

"The scene is interpreted by Morenz as a hunter with a bow standing next to an ostrich. On the other side of the ostrich is a person who seems to be wearing an ostrich mask. Morenz believes that the person might be a shaman and the mask-wearing might indicate ritual purposes." (Pappas)

Actual tracing of the panel. David Sabel.

"The images were pecked into the rock with a hard point and are now barely perceivable due to their considerable age. Only the archaeologically precise recording of the traces and the drawing of outlines revealed the images with noteworthy iconography. The initially confusing-looking arrangement of dots allows three figures to be seen upon closer inspection: a hunter with bow, and dancing man with raised arms, and between them, an African ostrich. 'The archer clearly shows hunting for the large flightless bird, while the man with raised arms can be identified as a hunt dancer,' reports Prof. Morenz. The dancer apparently wears a bird mask. The scene is reminiscent of the conceptual world of hunting, masks, and shamanism, as known from many parts of the Earth - including ostrich hunting by what are known as San (bushmen)." (University of Bonn 2017)

While I agree that they have found petroglyphs, to identify these figures in such detail does not seem to me to be warranted. Looking at the photographs and the field drawings the best I can say is that there seem to be three figures. Yes, one of them appears to have a bow, and the one in the center might be an ostrich, but that is pushing the limit of reasonable interpretation. I see nothing to suggest dancing and there is no indication of mask wearing. I fear that we have another case of Pareidolia, perhaps perhaps combined with an example of the Availability Heuristic.

“The availability heuristic involves making decisions based upon how easy it is to bring something to mind. When you are trying to make a decision, you might quickly remember a number of relevant examples. Since these are more readily available in your memory, you will likely judge these outcomes as being more common or frequently-occurring.” (Cherry 2020)  While I cannot know this for certain I suspect that Professor Morenz has, at some point, studied examples of San rock art which not only include ostriches, but are sometimes interpreted as showing ecstatic dancing, so this is what he saw. Pareidolia is the tendency of the human mind to interpret something as a familiar object - the old pony in the clouds, for example - and Morenz was looking for the meaning of the pecking on this panel. Not that I can say that his interpretation could not be possible, just that I don’t think he has enough data to make such definitive statements.

So, while I congratulate the team on a discovery that is significant, and important to Egyptian prehistory, I must say that I cannot agree with their interpretation based upon the evidence available.

NOTE: Some images in this posting were retrieved from the internet with a search for public domain photographs. If any of these images are not intended to be public domain, I apologize, and will happily provide the picture credits if the owner will contact me with them. For further information on these reports you should read the original reports at the sites listed below.


Cherry, Kendra, 2020 Heuristics and Cognitive Biases,

Pappas, Stephanie, 2017 Ancient Rock Carvings Depicting Masked People Discovered in Egypt, March 24, 2017, Live Science,

University of Bonn, 2017 Egyptian Ritual Images from the Neolithic Period, March 22, 2017,

Saturday, November 14, 2020


Ida 1, Photo Abderrahmane Ibhi.

An article in online magazine Meteor News, on January 19, 2019, reported petroglyphs carved into stone recording a meteor fall in Morocco. The find in the rural village of Ida Oukazzou, in the Tiwrare area, about 100 km north of Agadir, Morocco, consisted of three rounded rocks named by the investigators Ida 1, Ida 3, and Ida 3.

Ida 2, Photo Abderrahmane Ibhi.

“The characteristics for Ida1 and Ida2: length 20 cm, width 17 cm, thickness 5 cm and length 18 cm, width 15 cm, thickness 5 cm respectively. These are two pebbles of melanocratic cryptocrystalline quartz sandstone of subcircular form and very flat. They show traces of corrosion and a surface calcification layer consisting of thin platelets of carbonates. After careful cleaning Ida 1 (brushing and vinegar), the only engraved side of this piece offers a spectacular scene of a man and a woman seemingly distraught by the fall of a meteor (Figure 1). Identically on Ida 2, not yet cleared of its gangue of clay and sand and under the secondary precipitation of carbonate layers, we can identify a scene that includes a fleeing anthropomorphic and a huge fireball (Figure 2).” (Abderrahmane et al. 2019:1)

Ida 3, Photo Abderrahmane Ibhi.

              Ida 3 drawing, Photo                                 Abderrahmane Ibhi.

“Ida 3 (length 35 cm, width 27 cm, thickness 12 cm) is a thin, leucocratic sandstone pebble, rather flat and more or less square in shape. After cleaning, Ida 3 symbolizes a scene that includes an anthropomorphic, two cattle of different sized, a meteor and a figurative of the Sun with concentric circles in the center. To complete this ideogram, the artist has arranged two lines of inscriptions with Tifinagh characters with dull incised lines (Figure 3), this showing an image-inscription association which is arranged in the empty interval where it integrates harmoniously. These Tifinagh inscriptions, difficult to translate, are quite old, it is impossible to date them accurately.” (Abderrahmane et al. 2019:2)

Here is where I begin to doubt the whole story. “The astronomical observations reveal that these sculptures are those of a meteor, the three petroglyphs seem to represent the impact of a great meteorite that has frightened the inhabitants and that the artist has certainly experienced this astronomical event spectacular enough to be recorded on the rock.” (Abderrahmane et al. 2019:2)

These just do not strike me as fully believable. They admit to a cleaning with brush and vinegar. This treatment removed the calcite (which might have been datable) and seems to have also removed any patination which have allowed other analyses to be made. There is no mention of the circumstances of the discovery, were they buried, face up or face down, where and when? We are not even given many details of their claimed examination “performed with a binocular magnifier equipped with an integrated digital camera.”  (Abderrahmane et al. 2019:1) Such an examination should have offered clear evidence of tool marks which would have provided a great deal of information. Were I examining a supposed petroglyph with a binocular magnifier with an integrated digital camera I would have photographs of tool marks to help determine questions of possible age and authenticity. From what I can see in the photographs provided I feel the lines are suspiciously even, suggesting that they were created with a metal chisel, but without close-up photographs I can never personally know.

These just do not look believable to me, short of being able to examine the carving and surfaces with magnification I will remain skeptical. Whether the authors perpetrated the fraud, or have been taken in by someone else’s fraud, I also do not know, but I will give them the benefit of the doubt on this one for now and assume that they are naive but innocent, but I just cannot buy it.

NOTE: Some images in this posting were retrieved from the internet with a search for public domain photographs. If any of these images are not intended to be public domain, I apologize, and will happily provide the picture credits if the owner will contact me with them. For further information on this report you should read the original report listed below.


Abderrahmane, Ibhi, Fouad Khiri, Lahcen Ouknine, Abdelkhalek Lemjidi, and El Mahfoud Asmahri, 2019 This Discovery of Mysterious Petroglyphs Suggests That a Meteor Has Been Observed in Ancient Times in Morocco, eMeteorNews, Vol. 4, Issue 1, January 2019

Saturday, November 7, 2020


Smith's Ferry petroglyphs, Ohio River, Langdon, 1912.

In a country where “George Washington Slept Here” is almost a cliche
I was tickled to learn about a petroglyph panel along the Ohio River that he probably witnessed on a trip into the Ohio Territory in 1770.

     Smith's Ferry petroglyphs, Ohio River,                              Langdon, 1912.

“More than a decade after he left the army to become a gentleman farmer, George Washington traveled back to the frontier that figured so prominently in his early life. In the fall of 1770, Washington traveled westwards with his friend Dr. James Craik and three servants, traversing for nine weeks and one day. The trip was organized so Washington could view the lands that he earned in return for his service during the French and Indian war.” (Thompson) In other words his reward for serving the British Crown during the French and Indian War was a land grant that he was interested in visiting.

Lewis Evans' 1755 Map, Ohio River. Internet photo, public domain.

Lewis Evans' 1755 Map detail (the petroglyph site is labeled Antique Sculptures) Ohio River. Internet photo, public domain.

Washington’s actual journal entry on the day that he would have been by the petroglyphs was:

“21st. - Left our encampment about six o’clock, and breakfasted at Logstown, where we parted with Colonel Croghan and company about nine o’clock. At eleven we came to the mouth of the Big Beaver Creek, opposite to which is a good situation for a house, and above it, on the same side, that is the west, there appears to be a body of fine land. About five miles lower down, on the east side, comes in Raccoon Creek, at the mouth of which and up it appears to be a body of good land also. All the land between this creek and the Monongahela, and for fifteen miles back, is claimed by Colonel Croghan under a purchase from the Indians, which sale he says is confirmed by his Majesty. On this creek, where the branches thereof interlock with the waters of Shurtees Creek, there is, according to Colonel Croghan’s account, a body of fine, rich, level land. This tract he wants to sell, and offers it at five pounds sterling per hundred acres, with an exemption of quitrents for twenty years; after which, to be subject to the payment of four shillings and two pence sterling per hundred acres; provided he can sell it in ten-thousand-acre lots. At present the unsettled state of this country renders any purchase dangerous. From Raccoon Creek to Little Beaver Creek appears to me to be little short of ten miles and about three miles below this we encamped; after hiding a barrel of biscuit in an island to lighten our canoe.” (Sparks 1846)

Although Washington did not mention the petroglyphs he apparently explored the area as he designated one section as good for a house and others as fine cropland. Given Washington’s attention to the detail of the land it seems safe to assume that my would have had every opportunity to notice the petroglyph panel on horizontal sandstone in that area.

Smith's Ferry petroglyphs, Ohio River,                               Langdon, 1912.

The petroglyphs had been reported in 1755 by French travelers. “East Liverpool, Ohio - Chaussegros de Lery awoke on the morning of April 3, 1755, to find his encampment crusted with snow on what was to be a very cold day. About 10 a.m. the French Officer and his party moved across the Ohio Valley, navigating the terrain and streams as they made their way toward Fort Duquesne, then a French garrison at modern-day Pittsburgh. Around 3 p.m., de Lery recorded in his journal that the party crossed a river with which he was already familiar - he had encountered it 16 years earlier during a 1739 expedition under the command of Charles Le Moyne to Louisiana against the Chickasaw. ‘The river we left is called Riviere au Portrait, because at the mouth where it flows into the Belle Riviere, there are many signs and figures of men and animals chiseled on the rocks,’ he wrote. De Lery’s account presents one of the earliest written references to Native American carvings on a large, flat sandstone expanse at the confluence of the Ohio (Belle) River and Little Beaver Creek, which de Lery in 1739 named Riviere au Portrait, or ‘pictures in the river.’ ” (O’Brien 2020)

“For centuries, hundreds of these Native American carvings - or petroglyphs - stretched for about 10 miles along the Ohio River from Midland, Pa., through Wellsville, Ohio, to the Yellow Creek. - During the 1920s, a series of dams and locks was constructed along the Ohio, causing water levels along this part of the river to rise. By the 1950s, ‘super’ dams were added on the Ohio and the river rose even higher. Today, the petroglyphs are inundated under about 15 feet of water.” (O’Brien 2020)

      Smith's Ferry petroglyphs, Ohio River,                         Langdon, 1912.

“The local site is actually located about a mile north of Beaver Creek on the same shoreline of the Ohio. The town that was once there was known as Smith’s Ferry. A local historian in 1908 from East Liverpool pioneered research on this site and four others around the East Liverpool and Wellsville areas. His name was Harold Barth. Seventy years later the director of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History James Swauger wrote two major books documenting petroglyph’s up and down the Ohio river. It wasn’t until these books were published that things really came to light. Swauger used most of Harold Barth’s research, drawings, and photographs because they were the only available information known of any of the five sites. Most of the sites have been partially destroyed or covered over by 20 feet of river when dams were installed on the Ohio.” (Langdon 1912)

        Smith's Ferry petroglyphs, Ohio River,                       Langdon, 1912.

“On three occasions in 1940, 1948 and 1958, water levels along this part of the Ohio receded to a point where these images were exposed for the first time since the 1920s. For weeks, thousands of onlookers visited the stone outcrop near Smith’s Ferry, where the Little Beaver spills into the Ohio. The petroglyphs haven’t been viewed since. Yet many imprints of these markings survive. While some early photographs of the petroglyphs exist, the vast majority of the carvings are preserved thanks to the work of Harold Barth, and East Liverpool resident who in 1908 spent a year transferring the carvings onto large tracts of paper.” (O’Brien 2020)

    Smith's Ferry petroglyphs, Ohio River,                            Langdon, 1912.

Barth’s method of recording petroglyphs was quite unorthodox by today’s standards. He had a crew of helpers clearing the rock surfaces of mud, silt, and other debris. They then poured printers ink and a liquid dryer into the outline of each petroglyph, after which the large sheets of paper were pressed onto the surface. This process was followed at sites at Midland, Brown’s Island, Babb’s Island, Smith’s Ferry and Wellsville. The resulting collection of images is today in the possession of the Museum of Ceramics in East Liverpool, Ohio. (O’Brien 2020)

So, did George Washington see these petroglyphs? He certainly could have, he was there, but he apparently wrote nothing about them. As absorbed as he was in inventorying his land and dreaming about future wealth he probably was not very interested in something as mundane as the carvings of so-called “primitives.”


Langdon, Jeff, 1912 The Indian Rocks, The Petroglyphs of Smith’s Ferry, Keramos Vol. III, May 1912, East Liverpool, Ohio, reproduced in

O’Brien, Dan, 2020 Learn the Mystery of the Ohio River Petroglyphs,The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio,

Sparks, Jared, 1846 Journal of George Washington written during an expedition along the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers, extracted from The writings of George Washington, Volume II, Charles Tappan publ., Boston, pages 516-534