Since then, our research of the Mortendad Cave Petroglyphs has led us to find additional sources, which have now enabled us to make an additional but here provisional decipherment covering that portion of the starry heavens that runs from ca. Perseus to Aquila, just prior to Ophiuchus, thus completing one round of the starry sky, which started with the previous decipherment.
This decipherment must be regarded as provisional for two reasons:
- first, we do not know exactly where these petroglyphs are located in the cave in terms of the location of the petroglyphs of the previous decipherment, but the stars they represent do seem to follow logically in terms of the seasons they portray,
- second, this panel portion of the cave is somewhat more difficult to assess in terms of the intended stars, so that much on the panel remains uncertain, even though the basic plan we see is surely correct, covering the stars from Winter Solstice to Spring Equinox ca. 1750 B.C.
The key figures are Cygnus and Aquila, which are quite clear, as are Andromeda and Cassiopeia. The stars of Cepheus may be portrayed, but this is unclear. Pegasus as a bull with horns pointing down and to the right -- as in the most ancient Pharaonic Egyptian portrayal on the Narmer Palette -- is also clear, as is also the horned mountain goat head of Capricorn. We note here as an aside that our identification at that link of the bull as Aquarius below Pegasus must now be viewed as incorrect, since clearly Pegasus itself is intended, with horns pointing at the lower stars of Capricorn. The Old World and New World portrayals of the bull are thus clearly related.
Decipherment of the Mortendad Cave Petroglyphs
Panel of the Sky Showing Perseus (left) to Aquila (right)
Covering the portion of the Sky
from Vernal Equinox to Winter Solstice ca. 1750 B.C.
(click the graphic to obtain a larger image)
Our decipherment above is based on various online materials, including two photographs of this section of the Mortendad Cave Petroglyphs, as found at:
- The blog My Backyard at srleebackyard.blogspot.com has extensive material on this part of New Mexico, including an April 17, 2008 posting on Mortandad Canyon, including a photograph of this section of the Mortendad Cave Petroglyphs. See that blog for the photo and for much information.
- A photo by a different photographer, Efraín M. Padró, made in May, 2007, is found at Padró Images at http://www.padroimages.com/?search=Los%20Alamos. That image is a commercial one and subject to license, so we can not reproduce it here at all, nor do we link to it directly. Go to that site to view the photograph of this section of the Mortendad Cave Petroglyphs. Perhaps our posting will make that photo better known so that it is used in books and articles by the archaeological community.
Zora O'Neill, Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque, Ancient Travel, 2012, writes:
"The canyons below Los Alamos are filled with some excellent hiking trails, in addition to those at Bandelier National Monument, farther west. Although the view along Highway 4 looks bleak following the 2011 wildfire, most trails at lower elevations are intact. One short route is Mortendad Cave Trail, an out-and-back (1.6 miles round-trip) that takes you to an ancestral Puebloan site consisting of an old kiva set among a cluster of cave dwellings; the ceiling of the kiva cave is carved with very well-preserved petroglyphs. You can do the route year-round."THIS POSTING IS Posting Number 113 of
The Great Mound, Petroglyph and Painted Rock Art Journey of Native America
An Addition to the Decipherment of the Mortendad Cave Petroglyphs as Astronomy: New Petroglyphs Covering the Winter Solstice to Spring Equinox ca. 1750 B.C.