Saturday

Falling Man Site (Summary Page)

 {Click on an image to enlarge, then use the back button to return to this page}
This page last updated on 10/11/2017

Introduction: As I began to discover more and more rock art sites during my hikes over these past several years, I have become witness to far too many examples of where persons had seemed fit to deface them with graffiti and other examples of damage. Eventually I realized that the sharing of my hiking adventures could have the potential to increase public exposure, and thereby increasing the possibility for even more damage. As a result, I decided to preface each of my rock art pages with the following information to help educate visitors about the importance of these fragile cultural resources. Before scrolling down, I implore you to READ the following ... as well as the linked page providing guidelines for preserving rock art.



Here are a few simple guidelines you can follow that will help to preserve these unique and fragile cultural resources that are part of our heritage. Guidelines for Preserving Rock Art. If you would like to learn more about the Nevada Site Stewardship Program, go to my page ... Nevada Site Stewardship Program (NSSP).
 

EFP-P1060477 - P1060478
(Fig. 01)
MAP- Falling Man-2
(Fig. 02) 
Site DescriptionGenerally called the “Falling Man” site, this area is sometimes referred to as the “Whitney-Hartman” area, though this term is not used by locals. Located just a few miles down Black Butte Road, off the Gold Butte Back Country Byway, the outcrop of white and orange and red Aztec sandstone crags rising up out of the surrounding desert floor contains dozens of expertly pecked petroglyph panels, some containing more than 100 individual glyphs. Of all the areas I have visited in the Gold Butte Region, I believe this site is the most prolific, containing more panels and glyphs than any other. As you approach the site from the northeast, it is silhouetted against Black Butte Peak and the Bitter Ridge in the background (Fig. 03). At an elevation of 2,420 feet (at the parking area), it is surrounded by what is referred to as Mojave Desert Scrub, a vast and diverse expanse of shrubs, joshua trees, and cactus.
                     
Who Made Gold Butte’s Rock Art?It is nearly impossible to find any real specific archeological data relating to who and when various cultures may have lived in or passed through the Gold Butte Region. It appears to be generally believed that Archaic hunter-gathers were the first prehistoric rock art makers to live here. Because this period is generally divided into three time frames: The Early Archaic Period between 7000-4000 BC, when the environment began changing to more arid conditions; The Middle Archaic Period from 4000-1500 BC, when it appears that a wider variety of plants and animals were harvested as natural resources and more intensively exploited as populations increased and seasonal rounds became more territorially established; and lastly, the Late Archaic Period from 1500 BC to the period of contact with Euro-Americans in the nineteenth century, many of the petroglyphs here can be anywhere from 7000 to 700 years old. It appears that at some point the early hunter-gathers were followed by the Virgin Branch of the Keyenta Anasazi which appear to have occupied the area until sometime between 1000-1300 AD. Coming from the east, the western Anasazi include the Kayenta Anasazi of northeastern Arizona and the Virgin Anasazi of southwestern Utah and northwestern Arizona, both areas of which boarder the Gold Butte Region. NOTE: Though the term "Anasazi" is often used to describe various cultures, it is a Navajo term meaning "ancient ones", "ancient ancestors" or "ancient enemy", depending upon interpretation; its neutrality should thus not be blindly assumed.
               
Eventually the Anasazi were replaced by the Southern Paiute. Archaeologists generally agree that, for several centuries, indigenous people - now known as the Southern Paiute Indians - lived in the area that ultimately became Southern Nevada. When one gazes over this arid desert area today, one has to wonder how the Southern Paiutes and their generations of ancestors endured. It is believed that their success was based upon their knowledge of where their water came from. Their water rose up out of the ground as natural springs that were sometimes evident, and sometimes hidden. This knowledge of water locations was transferred between Paiute groups. It has been documented that the location of hidden water was even indicated by petroglyphs carved in stone so that Paiutes, who often on the move to follow their food, could only survive by knowing how to access the underground water. Because the weather differed somewhat every year, the Paiutes often traveled dozens of miles to the most promising food sources, becoming experts at finding the best sources of food and water in an ever-changing arid desert. Still today there are no less than two dozen natural springs located throughout the Gold Butte Region. As westerners began to infiltrate their lands, the Paiutes began to retreat deeper into the more desolate desert areas to avoid them.
                               
In spite of this information, so far, none of my research has come up with anything that definitively estimates when some of the various petroglyphs within Gold Butte were created. This is further complicated by the fact that over the years different peoples utilized the resources of Gold Butte making it even more difficult to determine who made what rock art. There is strong evidence that indicates several panels found here include some superimposition of petroglyphs pecked over older images.
                                     
EFP-P1100323
(Fig. 03)
10/22/2015 Trip Notes: On this trip to the Falling Man Rock site with the rock-hounds from the Henderson Senior Center, the majority of the hikers visited this site while Blake Smith and I hiked to the dam at Whitney Pocket. Scroll down for pictures from my previous visits. Click here to view the Whitney Pocket and the dam ... Whitney Pocket at Gold Butte.

03/05/2015 Trip Notes: Today I made another visit to the Falling Man Rock art site (Fig. 03) in Gold Butte with the rock-hounds from the Henderson Senior Center. Unfortunately our van was unable to reach the site due to a wash out on Black Butte Road and ended up getting bogged down in soft sand trying to turn around. After spending nearly two hours trying to get it turned around we finally ended up calling a wrecker from Las Vegas to come and retrieve us. While waiting for the wrecker to come three of us (Robert Croke and Blake Smith and myself  - Fig. 04) decided to hike the remaining couple of miles down the road to the site (Fig. 01). The many rocky, sandstone crags that make up this site contain dozens of many fine petroglyphs. The goal of today’s visit, with the aid of the map provided by fellow hiker Kathy Pool (Fig. 05), was to locate “Newspaper Rock” and the “Falling Man” glyph for which the site is named. After Heading south from the parking coral, we followed the trail down the wash until we located the hole in the rocks near the top of the cliffs off to the right (Fig. 06). Notice the ‘tree-like’ glyph just to the left of the opening. To the right of the opening there is a quite large panel (Fig. 07) with several large zoomorphs that appear to be bighorn sheep (Fig. 08), with possibly a ‘snake-like’ glyph in (Fig. 10).  Once we crawled through the small opening in the rocks we were presented with the view in (Fig. 11). The arrow in the middle left of this figure shows the location of the “Falling Man” glyph (Fig. 12). Unfortunately, once again, we ran short on time and had to head back before reaching “Newspaper Rock” (Fig. 20). Refer to these figures below for more information about these glyphs.

We did however discover another large outcrop with more than forty images (Figs. 13 & 14) that, in addition to some abstract images, contained several zoomorphs and more than a dozen anthropomorphs (human-like figures) (Fig. 15 & 16). The different tones in the color of the desert varnish of the glyphs here suggest that they may have been made by more than one group of inhabitants over a period of many years. Blake discovered several more rather abstract images nearer the ground on the backside of this outcrop (Figs. 17 & 18). (Remember to click on any of these images to enlarge for better viewing)
                                  
EFP-P1100353
(Fig. 04)
MAP-02 Falling Man & Newspaper Rock
(Fig. 05)
EFP-P1100336
(Fig. 06)
EFP-P1100332
(Fig. 07)
EFP-P1100333
(Fig. 08)
EFP-P1100335
(Fig. 09)
EFP-P1100334
(Fig. 10)
EFP-Falling Man Location-2
(Fig. 11)
EFP-P1100328
(Fig. 12) 
The Falling Man glyph: Could this petroglyph represent an actual event, such as a fellow tribesman who fell and lost his life while creating some of the area's spectacular petroglyphs, or could it be a shaman descending to or from the spirit world, or something entirely different. We may never know. I have read that this image can be found in two other different locations; one in Whitney Pockets near Valley of Fire State Park and one in the Grand Canyon National Park. The fact that the images at these three sites are nearly identical seems to suggest the same pre-historic artist created all three images. As their locations are in a reasonable proximity to each other, that possibility is not too far-fetched. It is easy to assume that a shaman could have traveled to the three sites over the course of time, thereby creating each of these images.
EFP-P1100346
(Fig. 13)
EFP-P1100339
(Fig. 14)
EP-P1100339-2
(Fig. 15)
EFP-P1100342
(Fig. 16)
EFP-P1100352
(Fig. 17)
EFP-P1100350
(Fig. 18)

EFP-P1060493
(Fig. 19)
02/05/2014 Trip Notes: This area is full of what seem like large piles of red and white sandstone outcrops (Figs. 01 & 19). The desert varnish on many of these rocks have made for a fascinating rock art gallery that is filled with dozens of ancient petroglyphs (Figs. 20 thru 23). Though we did not spot any, it is said that there are some agave roasting pits and a prehistoric campsite. The actual trail is only about 0.3 miles, but the last bit of the route requires an easy scramble among the rocky sandstone crags. Unfortunately for us, we just missed two of the more famous panels, the “Falling Man'” panel (Fig. 12) and another large panel called “Newspaper Rock” (Fig. 20) that my friend Kathy Pool found on her last visit. The good news is that we did locate several new petroglyph panels. We found several panels that were located high up on some of the sandstone outcrops (Figs. 22 & 23). It seems that the farther you go and the more you look, the more rock art you can find. No matter where we hiked here, there were beautiful views (Fig. 24) in almost every direction. Hopefully, future visits will yield even more petroglyph findings.
                           
Newspaper Rock: Newspaper rock or "picture rock”, as it is sometimes called because people like to have heir picture taken in front of it (Fig. 20). Some archaeologists believe that this panel has glyphs from three time periods, archaic, anasazi and patayan. The archaic glyphs are the oldest and are typically curvilinear or rectilinear in form; the Anasazi glyphs are identified as people or animals having “full formed” bodies, and the patayan people typically are more “stick” figures with large hands and/or feet. Likewise the animals are more like stick figures. It is also one of the few panels in the area having “burden baskets” which can be found on the left side of the panel. Burden baskets are cone shaped, with flat or rounded bottoms. The baskets were once made for every day use in collecting or gathering wild foods, or to cultivate crops like corn. Large burden baskets were sometimes made for food storage. You will see how the Bat Clan (many, many bat clan symbols in the area) documented the good years (full burden baskets) and the bad years (empty burden baskets) with wonderful petroglyphs. You can visually see their plea to rain god Tulilic, as the Kokopelli lays on his back to play his flute to the sky world.
                                     
EFP-Kathy Pic
(Fig. 20) 

Newspaper Rock: Newspaper rock or "picture rock”, as it is sometimes called because people like to have heir picture taken in front of it, is one of the best panels at the falling man site. Some archaeologists believe that this panel has glyphs from three time periods, archaic, anasazi and patayan. The archaic glyphs are the oldest and are typically curvilinear or rectilinear in form; the anasazi glyphs are identified as people or animals having “full formed” bodies, and the patayan people typically are more “stick” figures with large hands and/or feet. Likewise the animals are more like stick figures. It is also one of the few panels in the area having “burden baskets” which can be found on the left side of the panel. Burden baskets are cone shaped, with flat or rounded bottoms. The baskets were once made for every day use in collecting or gathering wild foods, or seeds to cultivate crops. Large burden baskets were sometimes made for food storage. It is generally accepted that baskets drawn upright represent the good years (full) and that when drawn upside down they represent the bad years (empty).

EFP-P1060483
(Fig. 21)

EFP-P1060505
(Fig. 22)
EFP-P1060506
(Fig. 23)
EFP-P1060487 - P1060488
(Fig. 24)