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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/842

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822
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

United States of Colombia, on the banks of the Orinoco; and in Venezuela, where in consequence of their antiquated condition they will soon cease to be distinguishable. The rocks of Honduras are covered with sharply-cut designs; the conquistadores, in 1520, remarked similar works in the Isthmus of Darien; and in the State of Panama entire cliffs were charged with hieroglyphics that might afford matter for very interesting studies. In the Sierra Nevada, between Columbus, Nevada, and Benton, California, are hosts of figures of men and animals and uninterpretable signs. About twenty miles south of Benton, the road follows a narrow defile, bounded on both sides by nearly perpendicular rocks, and these are covered with figures in respect to which no clew exists as to the people that designed them.

Pictographs are little less numerous in Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado—in parts of the country which, though now desolate, were formerly inhabited by a considerable population. The glacier-polished bowlders of the valley of the Gila River have figures that may be compared with those of Thuringia. On the banks of the Mancos and the San Juan, and in the deep canons stretching up toward the east, the figures are visible at dizzy heights, some deeply engraved, others drawn in red or white. Among them is a procession of men, animals, and birds with long necks and legs, all going in the same direction. Two of the men are standing on a sledge drawn by a deer, while others direct the march of the drove. The artist evidently intended to represent a migration of his tribe. In another pictograph on the banks of the San Juan, among figures of strange forms and of drawing incorrect but full of movement and life, may be recognized a number of flint hatchets, exactly similar in pattern to the symbolical hatchets that are cut on the megaliths of Brittany. At another spot, a cliff is covered, for a space of more than sixty square feet, with figures of men, deer, and lizards; and M. Bandelier has seen, near the ruins of Pecos, pictographs, the high antiquity of which is attested by the degree of effacement they have undergone. They represent the tracks of men or children, a human figure, and a tolerably regular circle. On the banks of the Puerco and the Zuni, two of the affluents of the Colorado Chiquito, designs have been remarked having the appearance of hieroglyphics, but their significance is unknown, and we can not even affirm that they had any. The cliffs near Salt Lake in Utah are adorned with sculptures, among which are human figures of the natural size, cut in a hard rock more than thirty feet above the ground. All together show an amount of labor of which the Indians are incapable, and a sum of difficulties which they could not have overcome; and the height at which some of the sculptures appear allows the supposition that some geological phenomenon, perhaps a depression of the lake, may have occurred since they were executed. Many drawings on stone have also been observed in the eastern parts of the United States.