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Northeast Rock Art

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  • Northeast Rock Art

    Eastern States Rock Art Research Association

    A useful resource for Northeast petroglyph studies.
    Rhode Island

  • #2
    The Mark Rock Petroglyph Site (Rhode Island)

    The Mark Rock petroglyph site is located on the Providence River in Kent Co., RI. It was first investigated and recorded by Edmund Delabarre of Brown University in the early 1900's. In 1928, he published "Dighton Rock" which was a study of the Dighton Rock petroglyph site as well as every other site he could locate in RI, and to a lesser degree, bordering states. In 1979 I revisited the site, uncovered some glyphs that had been buried under the sands since Delabarre's time, and recorded some glyphs for the first time that Delabarre had missed. In 2002, my friend, and former state archaeologist of NJ, Edward Lenik, published "Picture Rocks. American Indian Rock Art in the Northeast Woodlands", which included a section on Mark Rock, and included a few of my photos. I will post links to these works at the end of this thread entry.

    The dot within a circle is one of the most common petroglyph motifs in the Americas. Perhaps the world? Tyson posted a photo of such a design on a panel in Colorado in the "Off the Wall" category. There are several examples at the Mark Rock site. First, is a human figure, which Delabarre interpreted as a native depiction of a colonial soldier with breast straps and buttons. It must be stated, though, that Delabarre believed natives only began creating petroglyphs after seeing Europeans write on paper, and these petroglyphs are of unknown age. At any rate, this is the best preserved human figure above the sands, although last I checked, it had become covered.

    This next one is most interesting. You can see 3 circles in the NE, SE, and SW quadrant of the design. Now look in the NW quadrent. The circle is completely exfoliated, but the camera still sees it, as well as lines connecting it to the NE and SW circles, and a circle in the center. In the negative of this photo, the exfoliated circle and lines are dramatically visible. Delabarre noticed the same phenomenon. The invisible circle could not be seen, at all, by the naked eye! This entire panel, as seen in the 2nd photo below, was destroyed by storms years ago, except for the little sun symbol, which I believe can still be discerned.

    From Delabbare's study, the 4 anthropomorphic figures he found. From left to right, buried, buried, destroyed by storms, buried, but not deeply:

    Next, a dot within circle design that shows "modern improvement" in what looks like a shallow drilled hole at center, but the rest is pecked and both Lenik and myself think it's a native glyph. He told me he has seen similar designs elsewhere. Dots with circles again.
    Rhode Island


    • #3
      The Mark Rock Petroglyph Site (Rhode Island) - Part II

      A sketch of the ledge. I added the striped lines in 1979 to indicate which portions of the ledge were then buried under the sands. Now it's almost completely buried. Taken from Delabarre's "Dighton Rock":

      I used the drawing above to figure out Delabarre's scale, and then paced it off, dug in the mud, and photographed this design. Item h on the above drawing:

      Here is another anthropomorphic design I discovered myself. I gave "him" the nickname Snoopy:

      An 18th century example of colonial graffiti. Philip Greene's father was a farmer, plow shown to right of name, and his grandfather a mariner, hence the anchor:

      Rhode Island


      • #4
        The Mark Rock Petroglyph Site (Rhode Island) - Part III

        The Mark Rock petroglyph site as it appeared in the 1920's, in a photo taken by Delabarre.

        For further reading, here is Delabarre's chapter on Mark Rock, including all his photos and illustrations:

        Part of Lenik's chapter on Mark Rock, including my photos:
        Rhode Island


        • #5
          The Mark Rock Petroglyph Site (Rhode Island) - Part IV

          As of Sept., 2014, all but a small amount of the sandstone ledge is buried beneath the sands and mud. Compare these photos from Sept., 2014, to the ledge in 1920 at it's full extent. The stick is 3' long for scale.

          Looking North:

          Looking South:

          No native carving visible above ground:
          Rhode Island