V-Bar-V Heritage Site

by Oct 14, 20180 comments


… animals, mazes, circles, human forms, and suns …

To come across petroglyphs that were pecked into rock over 1,000 years ago is so exciting. It is fun to recognize and relate to some of the shapes — a human form with a bundle on his back, the shape of the sun —others, like a square maze, we wonder, and try to guess, what was the message being conveyed.

With 1,032 petroglyphs V-Bar-V Heritage Site is the largest known petroglyph site in the Verde Valley of central Arizona. These images were pecked out of rock between 900 AD and 1350 AD by the Sinagua people. The name Sinagua is a combination of Spanish words meaning without water (sin, agua).

It is interesting that there is almost no overlap on these figures. In the middle almost every square inch is covered with a figure or design. A crack in the rock has figures along the edge like they are emerging from the rock (maybe a creation story?). On another panel a tall figure has one foot with toes and one without (a holy man doing an exorcism with one shoe off?). There are animals, mazes, circles, human forms, and suns.

This rock panel is perfectly aligned in a north-south direction. There’s were two rocks at the top of the wall that used to throw two shadows with a sunny gap down the wall (the week before we arrived there had been a storm and one of the rocks is now sitting at the base of the wall). This turns out to be a solar calendar. On the solstices the sun beam shines on the concentric circle symbols (suns). The Indians used this to track the seasons, and then knew when to plant and harvest their crops.

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It was partly cloudy on the day of our visit which made most of the symbols very visible. But when the sun poked out the harsh lighting just about hid all the symbols, making the rock face look like one pocked and scratched mess. Then the light would soften and all these images would “appear.” It was really magical.

If you are spending the day in this area you have time to visit  Montezuma Castle, Montezuma Well and Tuzigoot. All great sites with their own visitor centers full of interesting displays and history.

You can find more information on the V-Bar-V Heritage site in a couple places. The Coconino National Forest website has a page with some history and location details on the site. The Verde Valley Archaeology Center and Museum has a page with a detailed map to find the V-Bar-V site.

Enjoy the journey!

Karin H Wilson

Karin H Wilson

Artist | Designer | Photographer | Traveler | Storyteller

I am Karin and I just love to share a good story — preferably with snacks! I’m particularly interested in capturing the world’s beauty and wonder in photographs.

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