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The MuralThe 360 Degree View

Early Inhabitants: Depicts Indians drawing hieroglyphics

The ancient people who lived in Texas left behind artwork that shows us what their lives were like. These pictures are called pictographs (drawings or paintings) and petroglyphs (carvings). The artwork, which you can see in many different places in the area, including Hueco Tanks, ranges in size from one inch to eighteen feet in height and is found anywhere from the ground level to many feet above ground.

Pigments for pictographs were made from powdered minerals, sometimes mixed with animal fats, and consisted largely of earth tones. Black and red were the most commonly used colors, but white, yellow, orange, and brown were also used. Subjects ranged from the whole human figure or just hands or feet, to animals of all kinds. The pictographs also depict other things that were important parts of the Indian people’s lives. Some of them include sun symbols, different types of weather, trees, weapons, and different shapes. In later times Spanish and other non-Indian figures were pictured.

You can see pictographs at the Hueco Tanks State Historical Park about 30 miles northeast of El Paso. Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, New Mexico has some wonderfully preserved petroglyphs.

Back to the Index of Characters and Scenes

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extended activity
Draw your own pictograph. Be sure to include the important people and things in your life.

Related Links:

The website for Hueco Tanks State Historical Park

An article from the Texas Handbook Online

ART ON THE ROCKS: Here's one gallery where you have to search for the pictures

Website for Petroglyph National Monument

Visit the Links to the Past: Archeology and Ethnology Program of the National Park Service

Read More, Learn More:

Adams, Marjorie Valentine. March 1955. "Pictographs on the Pecos: Our Disappearing Indian Art," Texas Parade. Newcomb, W.W. Jr. c1967.

The Rock Art of Texas Indians: Paintings by Forrest Kirkland. Austin: University of Texas Press Schaafsma, Polly. 1989.

Indian Rock Art of the Southwest. University of New Mexico Press.