Wednesday, July 22, 2015

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.

Our initial decipherment of the Mortendad Cave Petroglyphs showed that they are a sky map of the heavens and covered the area from Ophiuchus to Perseus.

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 illustration above is our own and we make no warranties of accuracy. As always we do the best we can with very ancient petroglyphs, but the figures are in part so indistinct that errors are pre-programmed. We have added the colors to make the various figures that we see easier for the reader to see. Some of the figures we have drawn surely will not withstand ultimate scrutiny, but the most important ones surely will withstand such scrutiny.

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 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 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.
For background, we also found the following source:

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.

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Sky Earth Native America

Sky Earth Native America 1:
American Indian Rock Art Petroglyphs Pictographs
Cave Paintings Earthworks & Mounds as Land Survey & Astronomy
Volume 1, Edition 2, 266 pages, by Andis Kaulins.

  • Sky Earth Native America 2:
    American Indian Rock Art Petroglyphs Pictographs
    Cave Paintings Earthworks & Mounds as Land Survey & Astronomy
    Volume 2, Edition 2, 262 pages, by Andis Kaulins.

  • Both volumes have the same cover except for the labels "Volume 1" viz. "Volume 2".
    The image on the cover was created using public domain space photos of Earth from NASA.


    Both book volumes contain the following basic book description:
    "Alice Cunningham Fletcher observed in her 1902 publication in the American Anthropologist
    that there is ample evidence that some ancient cultures in Native America, e.g. the Pawnee in Nebraska,
    geographically located their villages according to patterns seen in stars of the heavens.
    See Alice C. Fletcher, Star Cult Among the Pawnee--A Preliminary Report,
    American Anthropologist, 4, 730-736, 1902.
    Ralph N. Buckstaff wrote:
    "These Indians recognized the constellations as we do, also the important stars,
    drawing them according to their magnitude.
    The groups were placed with a great deal of thought and care and show long study.
    ... They were keen observers....
    The Pawnee Indians must have had a knowledge of astronomy comparable to that of the early white men."
    See Ralph N. Buckstaff, Stars and Constellations of a Pawnee Sky Map,
    American Anthropologist, Vol. 29, Nr. 2, April-June 1927, pp. 279-285, 1927.
    In our book, we take these observations one level further
    and show that megalithic sites and petroglyphic rock carving and pictographic rock art in Native America,
    together with mounds and earthworks, were made to represent territorial geographic landmarks
    placed according to the stars of the sky using the ready map of the starry sky
    in the hermetic tradition, "as above, so below".
    That mirror image of the heavens on terrestrial land is the "Sky Earth" of Native America,
    whose "rock stars" are the real stars of the heavens, "immortalized" by rock art petroglyphs, pictographs,
    cave paintings, earthworks and mounds of various kinds (stone, earth, shells) on our Earth.
    These landmarks were placed systematically in North America, Central America (Meso-America) and South America
    and can to a large degree be reconstructed as the Sky Earth of Native America."