Petroglyphs By Children?

My father drove down from living off grid in the Saskatchewan bush country to visit my California wilderness with me. I took him to the place that ignited my love of the desert and where I first encountered petroglyphs. I knew there were more in the area than I’d previously found, so it was an opportunity for me to nose around more thoroughly and it certainly paid off. These new discoveries gave me more insight into the Coso people and their lives - if my theory bears out. 

The more I study the rock art the more familiar it becomes. Nuance and variation begin to stand out. This new discovery, however, isn’t particularly nuanced in the stylistic sense but given the difference between these new iterations and the classic Coso styles I feel fairly confident that I discovered the work of children which makes my connection to these ancient people feel that much more intimate. 

I’ll begin by posting some examples of typical Coso rock art and then discuss my new finds and why I believe they are the product of children. 

All images can be clicked on for higher resolution views. 

One of the more noteworthy details is the location of the children’s rock. It is approximately a mile from the main petroglyph site on a small pass that leads to the top of the plateau above the canyon. Given the symbolic import of petroglyphs in general, I’m guessing the elders of the group would frown on children defacing their sites or taking up prime real estate with doodles. Can’t help but wonder if the glyphs below were practice or furtive rebellion. 

Below are detail images of the children’s rock glyphs - they strike me as the type of stick figure drawing all little ones create early on. I fear the photos aren’t the best but we were hunting mustangs with long lenses and traveling light so I had to shoot these with my 150-600mm lens at some distance. Their significance also did not occur to me until after we’d returned home. A return trip to more extensively explore the area and get better images is warranted. 

Children’s rock. Note the two sheep images and the random pecking away of the surface material in places.

Here you can see the pecking and one of the sheep as well as zigzag lines and random other patterns.

The second sheep.


Also worth noting in the final photograph above is the cross-hatching on the lower right of the rock. This has been noted at other sites as well. No one knows the meaning of it, however. The voices of the Coso people went silent well before the incursion of Europeans and written history. Still, the clues they did leave are tantalizing. 

Do you have thoughts about this? What do you see? Reach out through the Contact link below and tell me what you think of this new discovery. 

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