|Valley of Fire: Valley of Fire State Park is home to one the largest concentrations of petroglyphs in the state of Nevada. It is very likely that some ofthe Valley of Fire petroglyphs had been created over a period of roughly 3,000 years, by members of several different cultural groups. The situation becomes more complex when the representational figures at the site are examined. You will see bighorn sheep, but also deer and, especially, human motifs on the panels at Mouse Tank. Although these kinds of motifs are similarly present in the hunter-gatherer art of the Far West, the Puebloan examples tend to be more systematically stylized and formulaic than seen in California and the Great Basin. This is particularly true of the human figures: the idiosyncratic "patterned-body anthropomorphous" that typify Numic rock art, for example each of which displays a unique internal body design composed of entoptic patterns are replaced by smaller, solid-body humans, many of which are identical or near-identical in form in the Puebloan art. The near carbon copy duplication of particular motifs, then, is a trend in Puebloan rock art, contrasting with the more idiosyncratic renderings of a set of motifs in the hunter-gatherer art.|
There is no better illustration of this than the panel of human and animal petroglyphs and entoptic designs at the site. Particularly notable is an ensemble of four human figures, holding hands and standing in a line (Fig. 02). The two figures on the right are shown with thin, straight torsos and waists; those on the left are blocky, rounded, and almost obese. What is most interesting in this case is that precisely the same motif ensemble is present elsewhere on the site: four humans holding hands, with two thin figures on the right and two blocky figures on the left. The implications of this repetition of complex images are straightforward, the first being the existence of formalized and organized religious beliefs and practices, removed from the more idiosyncratic nature of the individualized shamanistic practices of hunter-gatherer groups. At the Mouse Tank petroglyphs, as well as those at Atlatl Rock, we see an expression of what are presumably formal religious cults and rites such as those still practiced by Pueblo groups today, rather than simply the practices of a lone shaman or a few ritual initiates.
Mouse’s Tank: Mouse's Tank, which is also called Petroglyph Canyon Trail, is a 1/2 mile round-trip hiking trail off White Domes Scenic Drive. From the trailhead, just of the parking area, the trail heads in a due southeast direction (Fig. 01). A trail that is filled with very fine red sand, is surrounded by red rock cliffs and bee hive shaped mountains. Many of the rock faces along the trail are covered with desert varnish, a naturally occurring dark patina that forms on the surface of rocks in the desert, making the perfect palate for the native peoples who lived in the area more than a thousand years ago.
|Petroglyph History at Mouse’s Tank(1): The Mouse Tank Petroglyph Trail consists of an impressive series of panels located along a short trail to a deep depression in the rocks that collects and stores water seasonally. Like Atlatl Rock, Mouse’s Tank falls within a region that was occupied by Puebloan farmers during the period from approximately AD 1 to 1200 and, like this first site, Mouse’s Tank contains many Puebloan style petroglyphs. Indeed, Mouse’s Tank appears to be more purely Puebloan in age than the Atlatl Rock, which includes motifs of pre-Puebloan, Puebloan, and post-Puebloan or Numic ages. The Mouse Tank Trail affords a rare opportunity to view a kind of site in southern Nevada that typically would require traveling to Arizona or southern Utah to see.|
|(1) This information was taken from “A Guide to Rock Art Sites of Southern California and Southern Nevada” by David S. Whitely.|
Click here to [Return to Previous Page]