Learn about Hohokam Cosmology, Petroglyphs and its influence on the landscape

CAVE CREEK – Janine Hernbrode presents, “Patterns in Petroglyphs: Hints of the Hohokam Cosmology on the Landscape,” on the evening of May 8, in downtown Cave Creek.

One is nice; two is interesting; three is a pattern.  

Fifteen years of rock art recording on four major petroglyph sites in Southern Arizona has enabled assembly of motif details, drawings and photographs of more than 16,000 glyphs located in landscapes with similar characteristics.  

Janine Hernbrode studying Hohokam Petroglyphs in the field. She is also the leader of Rock Band, a group of volunteer rock art recorders. Photo by Gordon P. Hanson
Janine Hernbrode studying Hohokam Petroglyphs in the field. She is also the leader of Rock Band, a group of volunteer rock art recorders. Photo by Gordon P. Hanson

This is a vast collection of data in searchable spreadsheets representing images known to anthropologists for some time recording the belief systems of the inhabitants. 

By carefully recording these images, we can say we have found no scenes of everyday life, of grinding corn or plans for constructing pit houses.  The basis for belief is interwoven into lines and circles and more complex images placed carefully on the landscape.  

By applying the methods of science to the patterns observed, by working with ethnographic accounts and linguistic analysis by others, and by consulting with indigenous people we gained some understanding and identified threads of continuity between Native American belief systems and the rock art motifs.  

This month’s Desert Foothills Chapter Arizona Archaeological Society (DFC-AAS) free lecture and presentation is about a tiered universe: How and in what form people emerged from a lower world; flowers and their connections; bell rocks; and the importance of the boulder upon which the petroglyph was made.  

These basic understandings can enhance your own visits and enjoyment of petroglyph sites.

Pictured: Janine Hernbrode, an independent rock recorder and researcher working near Tucson who will be presenting, “Patterns in Petroglyphs: Hints of the Hohokam Cosmology on the Landscape.” Photo by Bob Hernbrode
Pictured: Janine Hernbrode, an independent rock recorder and researcher working near Tucson who will be presenting, “Patterns in Petroglyphs: Hints of the Hohokam Cosmology on the Landscape.” Photo by Bob Hernbrode

Hernbrode is an independent rock art recorder and researcher based in and working near Tucson.  

Wary of becoming relentless quantifiers through rock art recording, she and her research partner, Dr. Peter Boyle, worked together to collect and analyze data obtained from their recordings of: Tumamoc Hill (a three-year project of the archaeological and historical society and the University of Arizona); the Sutherland Wash Rock Art District (a six-year project for the Coronado National Forest); Cocoraque Butte and Cocoraque Ranch (a five-year project for the Bureau of Land Management, the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society, and the private owner of Cocoraque Ranch).  

Hernbrode and Boyle demonstrate that ethnographic and linguistic information can suggest links to both sacred landscapes and some motifs found in rock art. 

Hernbrode is the Leader of the Rock Band, a group of volunteer rock art recorders whose work was honored by the State Historic Preservation Office.  

She and the Rock Band currently are working to inventory and record the rock art in the Tucson Mountain District of Saguaro National Park, as part of an effort to understand the variety of sites in a portion of the Avra Valley.

The meeting will be held in the Community Room (Maitland Hall) at The Good Shepard of the Hills Episcopal Church, 6502 East Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek, AZ  85331 (near the Dairy Queen).  The presentation starts at 7:30 p.m. on May 8, and it is free to attend.

The public may attend an DFC-AAS meeting at no charge and the meetings are held on the second Wednesday of each month, September through May.  There are refreshments available at 7 p.m. and the meeting begins at 7:30 p.m.   For more information visit azarchsoc.wildapricot.org/desertfoothills.