The rock art of the Rio Grande Gorge is extensive and varied. Eight general types have been defined. Click on each type for a simple description and accompanying examples.
Ute Rock Art of the Rio Grande Gorge
It is well established that the Ancestral Ute were traditional residents of the Rocky Mountains and Front Range in Colorado immediately north of the Rio Grande gorge. The depth of their antiquity in this region is a matter of ongoing archaeological debate, however. Some argue the Ancestral Ute more-or-less occupied the same landscape for many millennia (Aikens 1994); others argue they arrived some time around 1000 CE as part of a general Numic expansion east and north out of California (Bettinger 1994, Sutton 1994); still others question whether the Ute presence in southern Colorado precedes the colonial era by much time at all. The difficulty confronting archaeologists has much to do with the largely non-diagnostic nature of site types and artifact assemblages produced by hunter-gatherers along the northern edges of the American Southwest, frustrating attempts to draw clear connections between material culture, language and ethnicity. Be that as it may, Ute oral tradition is premised on a deep historical presence in the region, and we know that the Ute were already regular visitors to Taos during the early Spanish colonial period. We should therefore expect legibly Ute rock art and related sites in the archaeology of the Rio Grande gorge, particularly in the northern regions as one approaches the Colorado border.
Text to come…