Medicine Lodge State Park
This page contains a discussion of the rock art found at the Medicine Lodge State Archaeological Site in Wyoming. All photographs are from our our personal collection. If you'd like to see more rock art from this location, or if you'd like to see higher resolution or larger images, send us an e-mail message and we'll see what we can do.
The rock art at this site, both petroglyphs and pictographs, was probably created by many groups, from Paleo-Indians up through historic Crow peoples who inhabited this area. It seems that those who did work the stone preferred images of shields, either by themselves, or in association with anthropomorphic figures. There are also a number of V-necked anthropomorphs that were probably created by a specific group of visitors to this location. There are only a few zoomorphic figures, and many of those are associated with an array of arrows and spears, some quite large. One poor critter (very large in comparison to the other images on these panels) has been penetrated by over half a dozen projectiles, some quite large themselves.
The pictographs tend to be higher up on the cliff face, are mostly red, and may represent the work of earlier visitors to this site. However, there is a series of red glyphs that appear to be some sort of writing, and probably represent some more modern attempt to cause confusion with those who attempt to interpret the images here.
The panel runs for over 100 feet along the cliff face, and is quite faded and weathered in most areas. Either these images are quite old, or this particular stone weathers quickly. In addition to the rock art, there were also archaeological diggings here at the base of these cliffs. There appears to have been close to 10,000 years of almost continuous occupation.
The geology of this rock face is fascinating as well, with may "Swiss cheese" areas where the rock has eroded into intricate hollows and tiny caves. The rock face is also stained by the red rock in the upper layers, and there appears to be a small area where obsidian or some other chert-like stones have been pried loose, possibly to create projectile points.
All in all, this is a fascinating site on a lot of different levels. For more information on how to preserve and protect these priceless historic treasures:
- Archaeological Resources Protection Act Hotline: 800-227-7286.
- See Archaeological Site Etiquette.
- See American Antiquities Act of 1906.
- See Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979.
- See More Rock Art Sites.
There are several anthropomorphs in this style. The figures are soft in appearance, possibly due to the nature of the rock surface. They seem to have antennae on the head, most facial features, and arms in various poses. The bodies tend to be rectangular, and sometimes they have a V shaped neckline.
|Other figures at this site show anthropomorphs standing either in front of, or more often, behind what appear to be shields. Many of the shields have decorations of various types, including horizontal or vertical banding, squiggly lines or ripples, and the patterns seen on the two shields in this photo. Some of the anthropomorphs have obvious necks, while in many cases the head appears to be attached to, or behind, the shield. Some have arms and legs, while others do not. Many of the figures at this location are heavily weathered and may be difficult to see.|
|There are several images at this location that appear to be more recent, probably historical Crow or some other local native tribe. This image, a pictograph, was high on the cliff face and appears to be a rider on a horse. The main figure was drawn using a black paint, and then covered with a red paint. Over time the red has spread, and the entire image has faded.|
More Rock Art
All of these photos have been resized and manipulated in Photoshop to give the best representation of the image. Some color distortion is inevitable. If you would like to see higher quality versions of these shots, or if you would like to use these images for any purpose, please contact us and we would be glad to help if we can.