Tortoise Mountain Petroglyphs

Tortoise Mountain - Petroglyphs carved into a large basalt boulder, along the slope of the mountain.

Tortoise Mountain – Petroglyphs carved into a large basalt boulder, along the slope of the mountain.

 

The mountains behind Barstow, CA are a treasure trove of ancient Native American petroglyphs. Black Canyon and Inscription Canyon in the Black Mountains is a place that both the curious and the well versed have come to learn more about the earliest people to have lived in this land of basalt, desert scrub, and sand.

Archaeological evidence reveals that this region was occupied by humans for over 8,000 years. Extensive studies of the petroglyphs have revealed both Great Basin curvilinear and Great Basin rectilinear styles. These styles have been traced to the Shoshonean Period of the Western Great Basin, dating from AD 1000 to historic times.

 

Tortoise Mountain - This bar bell motif petroglyph is a good example of re-varnishing. This is likely one of the older, hunter/gatherer designs in the area.

Tortoise Mountain – This bar bell motif petroglyph is a good example of re-varnishing. This is likely one of the older, hunter/gatherer designs in the area.

 

Tortoise Mountain - This is one of the more interesting, and abstract designs in the vicinity.

Tortoise Mountain – This is one of the more interesting, and abstract designs in the vicinity.

 

The Black Mountains are vast, and because of the high concentration of “rock art” in the aforementioned canyons most people don’t venture outside of those areas. Smaller sites like the one at Tortoise Mountain are seldom visited because the public is not aware of them. Tortoise Mountain is located west of the southeast entrance to Black Canyon. There are a few sporadic petroglyph sites on the east side of the mountain, but a majority are found on the high basalt walls on the northwest corner of the mountain.

 

Tortoise Mountain - Possibly an animal depiction of some sort. Notice the horned head, legs, and long body.

Tortoise Mountain – Possibly an animal depiction of some sort. Notice the horned head, legs, and long body.

 

Tortoise Mountain - Traditional big-horned sheep depiction.

Tortoise Mountain – Traditional big-horned sheep depiction.

 

Tortoise Mountain - Petroglyphs

Tortoise Mountain – Petroglyphs

 

Tortoise Mountain -  Pay particular attention to the middle right, as there may be a representation of a hunter with spear.

Tortoise Mountain – Pay particular attention to the middle right, as there may be a representation of a hunter with spear.

 

Tortoise Mountain - These designs have had so much re-varnishing, that they are only visible from a particular angle.

Tortoise Mountain – These designs have had so much re-varnishing, that they are only visible from a particular angle.

 

Tortoise Mountain - An atlatl depiction high on a cliff face.

Tortoise Mountain – An atlatl depiction high on a cliff face.

 

Secret Places in the Mojave Desert Vol. 7

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.

  • Desertbat

    The lichen alongside the glyphs inspire a watercolor.

  • lonerangerfan

    The pictures were great! Thanks for bringing this alive!

  • pat

    Nice post Jim!
    I love it when there are old designs and REALLY old designs in the same area. Lot’s of history there.