“Kingdom of Zion” RIV-1383 Petroglyphs

Large stone circle, possible a "sleeping circle".

Large stone circle, possible a “sleeping circle”.

 

I’ve previously told you about the “Kingdom of Zion” Cult Compound, but I had yet to make mention of the petroglyphs, and Native American village site that sits between a quarter/half mile from the compound.  My reasons for not including them in the same article is because they don’t have anything to do with one another, other than in nickname. To be quite honest, the old Native American site got the short end of the stick, now being associated by name to the kooky cult people. Out of respect for the site, I will refer to it by its identification number, RIV-1383.

RIV-1383 is situated along the mouth of a north flowing canyon in the Chuckwalla Mountains, just miles from the settlement of Desert Center. The ancient village site is comprised of scattered petroglyph panels, many of which contain small designs on rhyolite stones and boulders over an area of roughly one square mile. Several cleared circle patterns, and stone circles make up areas where the village site itself was likely situated.

 

Very intriguing petroglyph designs.

Very intriguing petroglyph designs.

 

Bowling night at the village.

Bowling night at the village.

 

Petroglyphs at RIV-1383

Petroglyphs at RIV-1383

 

"Sleeping circle" or geoglyph?

“Sleeping circle” or geoglyph?

 

These cleared circles and stone circles are often referred to as “sleeping circles”, and are often thought to have been sleeping quarters. There is some controversy to this theory, and some archeologist now believe that some “sleeping circles” may very well be geoglyphs. Whether that be the case with RIV-1383, I don’t know. Nevertheless they are an interesting sight to see, and definitely give you more questions than answers.

In addition to the petroglyphs and “sleeping circles”, there is also an extensive quarry, used to procure stone tools. The quarry was off of my radar, and I wasn’t aware of it at the time of my visit. It wasn’t until I began to research the site, that I found out about it.  Archeologist have documented over 50 work stations in association with the quarry. These work stations are essentially where the rock was worked into points, and hand tools.

 

This panel is located several hundred feet away from the main district.

This panel is located several hundred feet away from the main district.

 

Side view of the above petroglyph boulder - two bighorn sheep are present, along with a snake, and human figure. These are the only designs representing bighorn at this site.

Side view of the above petroglyph boulder – two bighorn sheep are present, along with a snake, and human figure. These are the only designs representing bighorn at this site.

 

This particular design resembles a bird.

This particular design resembles a bird.

 

More than likely a snake.

More than likely a snake.

 

The Native people who once inhabited RIV-1383, are very likely the same as those at inhabited nearby, Corn Springs. Located along the eastern border of the Desert Cahuilla, and the western boundary of the Colorado River based Yuman people – it could have been either, or both. It is also probable that the Chemehuevi had utilized this village for a period.

Unfortunately the site has lost much of its scenic beauty due to the Southern California Edison, Devers-Palo Verde 500-kV transmission line, which runs directly through the cultural site, and placed a utility tower directly on top of the main quarry site. It is unclear why the BLM permitted such a blight to be placed on two sites which are listed on the National Historic Register.

 

Several barbell shaped designs, along with a host of other motifs.

Several barbell shaped designs, along with a host of other motifs.

 

A very curious elongated anthropomorphic figure.

A very curious elongated anthropomorphic figure.

 

A beautiful abstract design.

A beautiful abstract design.

 

About the author

Jim Mattern

Jim is a scapegoat for the NPS, an author, adventurer, photographer, radio personality, guide, and location scout. His interests lie in Native American and cultural sites, ghost towns, mines, and natural wonders in the American Deserts.

8 Comments

  • Jim, another great article. I am wondering if you have any photos of the petroglyphs at Squaw Springs near Red Mountain and if so would you consider sharing them with the Rand Desert Museum?

  • Fantastic post Jim! I have a document relating to this place. In the document, they use the term “crying circles.” I know that a “crying circle” is a place where women got together and told each other their stories, but I’ve never heard of one associated with this area. It’s a shame about towers, roads, etc, being allowed to damage these amazing places.

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