Gila Bend Mountains

Gila Bend, Arizona

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Pictures of stick people are everywhere at this site. One of the people sports a long, wavy headdress. Other stick people have solid circles in the middle of their bodies. Archaeologists have noted similar petroglyphs at Painted Rock State Park about 15 miles downriver but have not been able to determine if the solid circles represent garments or body elaborations. Still other stick people have “tails” between their legs, which are often interpreted as male phalli. One obvious guess as to the meaning of the solid circles would be that they depict pregnancy, but many of the glyphs have both circles and phalli, which mystifies this theory. Other drawings include an impressive lizard and a variety of simple four-legged animals that might be deer, bighorn sheep, coyotes, or all of these animals. You’ll also see a lot of abstract markings like grids, ladders, circles, spirals, bull’s eyes, zigzag lines, and an image resembling a swastika. Of course, what we see as abstract might have represented something very real to the Native Americans who made the glyphs. At other petroglyph sites, for example, zigzags have been interpreted as snakes and sometimes falling rain.

Gila Bend Mountains Professional Review and Guide

"Pictures of stick people are everywhere at this site. One of the people sports a long, wavy headdress. Other stick people have solid circles in the middle of their bodies. Archaeologists have noted similar petroglyphs at Painted Rock State Park about 15 miles downriver but have not been able to determine if the solid circles represent garments or body elaborations. Still other stick people have “tails” between their legs, which are often interpreted as male phalli. One obvious guess as to the meaning of the solid circles would be that they depict pregnancy, but many of the glyphs have both circles and phalli, which mystifies this theory.

Other drawings include an impressive lizard and a variety of simple four-legged animals that might be deer, bighorn sheep, coyotes, or all of these animals. You’ll also see a lot of abstract markings like grids, ladders, circles, spirals, bull’s eyes, zigzag lines, and an image resembling a swastika. Of course, what we see as abstract might have represented something very real to the Native Americans who made the glyphs. At other petroglyph sites, for example, zigzags have been interpreted as snakes and sometimes falling rain."

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Gila Bend
Distance: 3
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Moderate
Duration: Day Hike
Local Contacts: Tohono O'odham Nation, Bureau of Land Management
Local Maps: USGS Cotton Center, Gila Bend
Driving Directions: Directions to Gila Bend Mountains

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May 2018