Tony Hillerman Rose Garden and the Petroglyphs

We had our third Walking Enchantment project outing of twenty-three, and it was awesome! 

I use the library system regularly, but I've never been to the the Tony Hillerman branch, nor had I been to the Rose Garden that surrounds it.  In a word...GORGEOUS!  Definitely one of the hidden gems in Albuquerque. I did my thesis project on macro botanicals and roses never really interested me because they're so predictable. I couldn't have been more wrong.  

There were varieties of roses I'd never seen before and they were anything but predictable. Not only that, there were beautiful arches and park benches that only added to the ambiance of the garden. Plus, some of the insects that were clinging to the buds and crawling on the ground were fascinating.  I know, I can bugs be fascinating? Well, when was the last time you saw a completely white spider sitting on top of a rosebud? Or two ants acting as a team to carry another dead bug, easily four times their size, back to their lair?  I'm telling you...fascinating...

From the rose garden, we traversed the vast expanse from Albuquerque's east side to end up on the west side near millenia old, now extinct, volcanoes, to visit the Petroglyph National Monument. When you first see the petroglyphs, you think they're drawings someone just carved in a rock.  That would be a misconception. These volcanic rocks are porous and tough. Don't let the little holes in them fool you.  Even if you stood there for days trying to carve into these rocks, it would be near impossible to do without the right tools. Enter the stone chisel and hammerstone...  

This tool is similar to the one used by the local people of times past in order to carve these images into these stones. Some of them date back thousands of years, while others are a mere three hundred or so years old.  And just to make sure you have the right information, they are rock carvings (not drawings) made by chiseling directly on the rock surface using the chisel and hammerstone (mentioned above) leaving lighter rock underneath exposed, creating the petroglyph.  It's estimated that there are over 25,000 petroglyphs along the 17 miles within the monument boundary.  We only saw a few because we stuck mainly to the paths through the rocks.  It makes me want to go back to explore some more to see what I can find.

Each of these petroglyphs tells a story, even if it's just one image.  If you look at them - and some span over several boulders - you can see the story they're trying to tell. Interestingly, they seem to go from left to right - the same way we read and write now. Whether that was intentional, I don't know, but it's pretty amazing in my opinion.  

These petroglyphs represent powerful cultural symbols and religious entities that reflect how complex the societies and religions of the tribes were. Petroglyphs are central to the monument's sacred landscape where traditional ceremonies still take place. Some of the petroglyphs found here are as old as B.C. 2000. Other images date from historic periods starting in the 1700s, with carvings by early Spanish settlers. Which ones? No idea; however, I plan to find out.

Check out our Walking Enchantment website for more information and to follow our project.  As well, check out the charity we're supporting, UNM Center for Life. Your tax deductible donation will go a long way to helping toward the completion of this project. Then...come to Old Town Albuquerque during the holiday season and see the exhibit.  The images reflected on this blog are not the images you will see there, however, each will be from our project locations and they will be an incredible representation of New Mexico.