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Ancient Petroglyphs of the Baja Peninsula


Twenty miles up a rough dirt road we passed through our last gate. Checho, our guide, opened the fence and waited for us to drive through before closing it behind us. Continuing a few meters further he indicated that we were to park. From here we would continue on foot.

We were walking along an arroyo, which would be running full bank to bank when the seasonal rains were falling in the mountains whose toes we were exploring.

The sand was deep, and difficult to walk through, but as we progressed (stopping every few minutes to empty the sand from our shoes) we began seeing shapes on the canyon wall on our left. More and more the further we walked. Fish, deer, humans, sea lions and what could only be a crescent moon were etched into the rocks. Checho told us that there are more such carvings buried in the sand below us, and undoubtedly more that had separated from the cliff and fallen, twisting, so that their carvings are hidden from view.

No one knows how old these images might be. The Cochimi people who had lived here from prehistoric times until the first advances of Europeans denied that they had made these images, saying that these carvings, as well as the cave paintings that also can be found in the Sierra Mountains of the Baja Peninsula, were here when they arrived. Archeologists tell us that both the Cochimi’s and Pericu (who lived along the shores) were here beginning around 7,000 years ago. Recent investigations indicate that this arrival date might be pushed back as far as 15,000 years BCE, which would cause the entire timeline for the spread of humanity into the new world to be re-examined.

In any case, these images are old, very old. And would have survived many species-ending climate events.

Standing there, touching the stones that our ancestors also touched thousands of years before the invention of writing and the pyramids, is a humbling experience.