Writing On the Wall: Sego Canyon, Utah

Barrier Canyon style pictographs at Sego Canyon

On my travels in the Southwest, I’ve seen quite a few petroglyphs: illustrations chipped or carved into the surface of the rock. In Sego Canyon, north of Moab, I saw some of my first pictographs: rock art painted onto the wall using natural pigments. These paintings, in the so-called Barrier Canyon Style, were created 8,000 years ago (!!) by little-known nomads called the Archaic People.

Sego Canyon, detail

Barrier Canyon Style is identified by larger than life anthropomorphic forms, usually with hollowed or missing eyes, an absence of arms and legs, and horns, antennae, earrings, and snakes. The ghostly red images are thought to represent shamanistic art associated with ritual activities of the Archaic people.

Ghosts of Sego Canyon. Note the bullet holes.

Ancient Art, Cowboy Target

Ancient Art, Modern Target

Spiral & Umbilical

Spiral & Umbilical, Modern G.H.

Wide View of Sego Panel

Wide View of Sego Panel. Note the purple flare at upper left.

Jedi Cove Graffiti near the Sego Panel

Graffiti near the Sego Panel

I was unprepared for how spooky these images are! I worry I might meet them again in my dreams. Sego Canyon is a beautiful place. You have to wonder what these ancient people saw there to inspire such beautifully hideous artwork. So monstrous, so alien! Hmmm…

Sego Canyon & Pictographs

About theblondecoyote

Mary Caperton Morton is a freelance science and travel writer with degrees in biology and geology and a master’s in science writing. A regular contributor to EARTH magazine, where her favorite beat is the Travels in Geology column, she has also written for the anthologies Best Women's Travel Writing 2010 and Best Travel Writing 2011. Mary is currently traveling the backroads from New Mexico to Alaska, writing and living out of a tiny Teardrop camper. When she’s not at the computer she can usually be found outside -- hiking, climbing mountains and taking photographs. Visit her website at www.marycapertonmorton.com.
This entry was posted in Hiking!, Photography, Road tripping!, Uncategorized, Vagabonding 101 and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Writing On the Wall: Sego Canyon, Utah

  1. heidikins says:

    Some of those pictographs look a little like the traditional Native American ceremonial costumes, the ones with the big masks and long robes and things. :)

    xox

  2. Bea Pludow says:

    Hello, these pics. are very Other Worldly to say the least! I was particularly taken with the figure near the middle with the bubble type images and other items floating around it. (this was in the picture with the “purple flare” in the left hand corner (as I looked at the picture.) I wondered if that was from your camera catching light or? ) I have always believed there was an Other World influence here on earth!
    I finished my 3+week trek, and I feel unfinished! I need to spend time in certain areas I skipped thru, Utah was most definitely unfinished! I was also in need of more time in the Rogue River area of Oregon. Thanks for these great photos.

  3. I’ve never seen the Sego pictographs before! So otherworldly! Thanks for sharing this – I love catching up with your adventures because I become exposed to places that I may have never heard of! I’m planning to go to the Burgess Shale this summer because of you!

  4. Andy says:

    The Archaic People. What a great name. Like The Ancient Ones.
    Love this kind of stuff-don’t know if you saw my post from 22nd of May-’London Day Three:Neolithic Glimpses’? From an exhibition I went to see at the British Museum. Artwork and carved figures up to 40,000 years ago. Fascinating stuff.

    And about your comment about if you was to see tthem again, there is nothing you can do. Witness the bullet holes . Sweet dreams.

  5. Kyle Kuns says:

    Nice post, makes me want to go see the pictographs in person.

  6. Would like to find this place next time we make it to Utah; just ran out of time on the trip this spring. Thanks for sharing your photos. Carol

  7. Those look like some that I have seen about Ancient Astronauts, and spooky also, I agree!

  8. Very interesting and inspiring post!!!
    One day I made a pearl-barley soup and after putting grate carrots in – few minutes later there was a natural pigment on the top of boiling water :) – automaticaly remember your post :) Two thumbs up!

  9. Pingback: Roadside America: UFO Watchtower | Travels with the Blonde Coyote

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