Borrego Springs, CA

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Archeology 101, part 2

After the three of us visited the authentic sod house, yesterday, we headed up Steens Mountain.  That’s where I took the picture of Jan and Karl.  I’m not going to post any pics from that part of the trip, because I hope to pack up Emma and do it again myself on Sunday.

When we got back down off the mountain, we headed for the Krumbo Reservoir for a pit stop.  There is a great picnic area there right along the edge of the water. 
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On the way back from the reservoir, we stopped at a huge boulder that contained several petroglyphs.  They’re not as impressive as those that can be found at Dinosaur Nat’l Monument and other sites around the West, but they were interesting none the less.  Petroglyphs were chipped into the rocks by the ancient people.
IMG_5360Next, we hiked a trail that Jan and Karl helped establish a few years back.  This trail could not be established until they had surveyed the area for archeological artifacts.  They walk a grid pattern of an area such as this to determine if any artifacts are present.  If there are very few or no artifacts present, than a trail can be established.  As we walked along, Jan pointed out to me several obsidian chips lying on the ground.  These chips were the result of the ancient people’s making stone tools such as spear points and arrowheads. 
IMG_5362Suddenly, Jan stopped dead in her tracks and said she saw an artifact!  Sure enough, it was an arrowhead.  The actual point had been broken off (on the left end), but you can see how this arrowhead would fit in the notch of the arrow.  It is made of obsidian, and you can see where the flakes were chipped off.  I was pumped to actually see a stone tool this old!  This type of arrowhead is 1500-4000 years old.  After this picture, Jan stepped off of the trail to carefully place this artifact in an obscure location where it is unlikely to be disturbed.  There is a mighty big fine for taking these artifacts off of the refuge.  It was a great thrill for me to be able to hold this arrowhead and appreciate the craftsmanship from so long ago.
IMG_5364This particular trail culminates on a ridge top overlooking a valley.
IMG_5367The view was outstanding, and earlier in the year there would have been much more water.
IMG_5369The rocks at the ridge top are covered with multicolored lichens.  However, those white chalk like splashes in the bottom center of the picture are not lichens at all.  I’m thinking that you would never guess that the white chalky looking stuff is pack rat urine!  How’s that for an interesting little tidbit??  :)

Later, we drove to a location just off of the refuge to look at pictographs.
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Along Double O Ranch Road, we approached some of the 5 or 7 sided volcanic columns of ridge rock. 
51 Malheur NWR, Oregon3We were able to walk up to these columns to see the pictographs that were painted, rather than etched, on the column faces.  This wetland area of the high desert was an important place for people that came here so many thousands of years ago.  What a great archeological learning experience it was for me yesterday, and I truly thank Jan and Karl for taking the time to give me such an experience.  Cool beans!  :)

Thanks for stopping by….talk to you later,  Judy


  1. I didn't realize a wildlife refuge would also have so many archaeological sites and artifacts. You are in a wonderful place, and I hope you really enjoy your stay there.

  2. I learned something with this post. I am sure I would have walked right by that arrow head.

  3. It is nice to see you get a special tour by such knowledgeable volunteers. Perhaps someday you can give them a birding walk in exchange.

  4. Isn't it amazing how some of these ancient signs of history have survived so long. It's great that you could go on this private to tour to see them.

  5. Wow - pack rat urine! I can guarantee I would never have known that fact. This place must definitely go on my list of "have to sees." Thanks for showing us th arrowhead. I've only seen them in museums.

  6. Now THAT is totally channeling history!!!! I would have given anything to be there with you...I love petroglyphs and am planning to post some from Seminole Canyon S.P. on today's blog...Thanks soooo much for sharing!

  7. Your blog today brought back a lot of chilhood memories for me. We lived on 40 acres, and all 7 of us kids use to find scads of arrowheads. We also had what my Dad thought were burial grounds and wouldn't let us disturb them. To me, they just looked like big humps or little hills, but to him they were something you just didn't disturb.

  8. Very interesting post and, as usual, the pics were terrific. Amazing to find that piece of arrowhead.

  9. With my aging eyes, I thought it was you standing next to Karl in yesterday's photo, and I thought you looked a bit cozy with him. Now I see it was his wife--whew! What type of paint could the aboriginal people have used to stand the test of time? This post was most intriguing.

  10. These last 2 posts have really been some of your best. Quite an interesting tour you got and wonderful that you had Jan and Karl there to guide you along.

    Pack rat urine huh? Whoda thunk?

    Great header pic...WOW.

  11. I loved every little bit of this post. Lots of learning going on in these brain meats of mine!

    I liked the story about the arrowhead's recovery and subsequent burying.

    Pack rat urine, eh? I'll never look at a colorful boulder the same way again, that's for sure.

    Thanks for sharing!