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.
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.
Select an image or figure number to see a full sized version.
- Geometric Shapes and Designs
- Historic Figures
- Panels and Mixed Groups
|ML002: A pair of anthropomorphs with round heads, each with eyes and a mouth. Petroglyph.|
|ML006: An anthropomorph, probably standing behind a shield. The face has been painted with red, and there may be some white on the figure as well. Pictograph and petroglyph. Petroglyph.|
|ML007: At least one, and maybe two anthropomorphs with round heads and facial features. Petroglyph.|
|ML013: One or more anthropomorphs with several pecked holes. Petroglyph.|
|ML014: Probably an anthropomorph with a rounded, triangular shaped face with facial features. The figure has a box-like torso. Petroglyph.|
|ML015: Apparently anthropomorphs standing either in front of or 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 other graphic patterns. 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 are difficult to see. Petroglyph.|
|ML016: An anthropomorph standing behind a decorated shield. Petroglyph.|
|ML017: An anthropomorph standing behind a decorated shield. Petroglyph.|
|ML018: An anthropomorph standing behind a slightly decorated shield. Petroglyph.|
|ML019: An anthropomorph with a skull like head standing in front of a shield. It may be that the figure was there first and that the shield was added at a later time, giving the appearance of the figure standing in front. Petroglyph.|
|ML020: An anthropomorph standing behind a slightly decorated shield. The head has horns and there appears to be a spear protruding from behind the shield. There may be some painted elements on this figure, but the figure has been outlined with lead or some dark substance, no doubt to make it more visible. Petroglyph.|
|ML022: These appear to be red painted pictographs that have faded. There may be an anthropomorph with a bow and arrow and a bull headed zoomorph, but that is difficult to say. There has been chalking to "enhance" the image that may force an interpretation that is not correct. Pictograph.|
|ML023: Probably two or three anthropomorphs in red paint. Pictograph.|
|ML025: Two anthropomorphs. One is standing behind a shield and appears to have "bear" ears. The other has a long rectangular torso and a round head with facial features. Petroglyph.|
|ML031: This appears to be a warrior standing behind a shield. The figure appears to be wearing bison horns and is holding a spear. Petroglyph.|
|ML033: An anthropomorph standing behind a decorated shield. Petroglyph.|
|ML037: Probably an anthropomorph standing behind a shield. The head appears to be wearing bison horns. Petroglyph.|
|ML039: An anthropomorph standing behind a shield with some interior decoration. Petroglyph.|
|ML040: Probably an anthropomorph standing behind a shield. There also appears to be some white paint applied in some areas. Petroglyph.|
|ML041: An anthropomorph standing behind a shield. This figure appears to have a long tail, down low, with a spiked ball at the end. Petroglyph.|
|ML042: An anthropomorph standing behind a shield. Petroglyph.|
|ML043: An anthropomorph standing behind a shield. Petroglyph.|
|ML045: Two or more anthropomorphs. Petroglyph.|
|ML046: A small stick-figure anthropomorph waving its arms. It is possible that this is a female in a birthing position. Petroglyph.|
|ML047: A stick-figure anthropomorph with wide spread arms. Petroglyph.|
|ML048: An anthropomorph with a shield. There may be some white paint applied to this figure. Petroglyph.|
|ML050: A close look at an anthropomorph head and face. Petroglyph.|
|ML052: Several anthropomorphic figures and at least one shield. There may be white paint washing across this part of the panel. Or, it may be natural leeching of elements from the sandstone above. Petroglyph.|
|ML053: An anthropomorph standing behind a shield. Petroglyph.|
|ML055: An anthropomorph from ML054. It has long droopy "horns" coming from its head and waving arms. Petroglyph.|
|ML057: This may be an elaborately rendered anthropomorph. Petroglyph.|
|ML058: This may be an anthropomorph. Petroglyph.|
|ML059: There are several anthropomorphs on these panels 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. Petroglyph.|
|ML060: An anthropomorph with full facial features. There may be hair on the head, of perhaps the figure is wearing a cap of some sort. Petroglyph.|
|ML061: An anthropomorph, possibly a male, wearing head gear with horns. The arms are waving. Petroglyph.|
|ML062: An anthropomorph wearing bison horns. Petroglyph.|
|ML063: Three or four fading anthropomorphs standing shoulder to shoulder. Petroglyph.|
|ML068: The upper torso and head of an anthropomorph. Petroglyph.|
|ML069: Probably a painted anthropomorph. Petroglyph.|
|ML071: This might be the face of an anthropomorph, with two sets of "feathers" or "horns" extending from either side of the head. Or, this may be a shield, or perhaps even the Sun. There has been some chalking, and that makes it appear that there are eyes and a mouth. We'd have to take a look at the actual figure on the rock to know for sure. Petroglyph.|
|ML072: Probably an anthropomorph. The figure has been chalked. Petroglyph.|
|ML074: The outline of an anthropomorph with a well defined rectangular shaped torso. Petroglyph.|
|ML076: An anthropomorph that might be standing behind a shield. Petroglyph.|
|Geometric Shapes and Designs|
|ML003: A circle; possibly a shield. There may be a bit of white paint over a portion of this element. Petroglyph.|
|ML004: A portion of this element is missing due to spalling. It looks to be a circle with fringe on the lower part of the loop. This may be a shield. Petroglyph.|
|ML005: A circle with interior lines; possibly a shield. There is also a long spear with a prominent point, with dangling feathers or cords. Petroglyph.|
|ML008: Two figures shaped like hour glasses, connected horizontally at their mid points by two lines forming an oval. Petroglyph.|
|ML009: A circle that may have lines within. Possibly a shield. Petroglyph.|
|ML010: A circle with interior lines; possibly a shield. Petroglyph.|
|ML011: A circle with interior lines; possibly a shield. Petroglyph.|
|ML012: Curved lines. Petroglyph.|
|ML021: Possibly a shield or a face, it is difficult to tell. There are also indications that there was once red paint applied to this surface. Petroglyph.|
|ML027: The main figure in this group appears to be a shield with fringe all around. There are also interior designs. Petroglyph.|
|ML029: Red paint over what might be a petroglyph of a face or a shield.|
|ML032: A series of red painted symbols that give the impression of being some type of writing. Pictograph.|
|ML035: A shield with interior decoration. Petroglyph.|
|ML036: Graphic designs that may represent bear paws. Petroglyph.|
|ML056: A graphic image that is difficult to interpret. There may be anthropomorphs and zoomorphs mixed together among random looking lines. Petroglyph.|
|ML064: Several graphic elements and an anthropomorph standing behind a shield. Petroglyph.|
|ML065: A shield with elaborate interior design. Petroglyph.|
|ML066: A shield with an interior design. Petroglyph.|
|ML067: It's difficult to say what this might be. It looks a bit like two overlapping shields. Perhaps it's just a graphic element. Petroglyph.|
|ML073: Three unusual symbols. There is a "cross" on the right that may have been added later, since it cuts across the faded white paint. The small circle with the interior dot may represent a vulvaform, as may the oval figure. Petroglyph.|
|ML075: Probably a shield. Petroglyph.|
|ML078: A series of red painted vertical bars crossed horizontally by a line. This is from the group of images under the overhang toward the right side of the cliff face. Pictograph.|
|ML079: A red painted pictograph that may represent water, or, it might be a snake. This is from the group of images under the overhang toward the right side of the cliff face. Pictograph.|
|ML080: A series of red painted dots on the ceiling of an overhang. Is this a counting device or some celestial map? Or something else entirely? This is from the group of images under the overhang toward the right side of the cliff face. Pictograph.|
|ML081: A series of six red painted dots. This is from the group of images under the overhang toward the right side of the cliff face. Pictograph.|
|ML070: 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.|
|Panels and Mixed Groups|
ML001: An anthropomorph with raised arms. There is also a small graphic element, as well as a portion of the head of a big horn sheep. There is a smear of red paint, and the graphic element appears to have black paint on it. Petroglyph.
|ML044: A portion of the larger panel, with a prominent deer and spear. See ML049 for a closer view of the deer and spear. Petroglyph.|
|ML054: A portion of the larger panel showing many anthropomorphs, a few zoomorphs, and at least one shield. See ML055 for a closer view of one of the anthropomorphs. Petroglyph.|
|ML028: Two red painted elements that might be atlatls or perhaps represent some sort of plant. Pictograph.|
|ML026: A zoomorph; probably an elk or deer. The figure is both a petroglyph and a red painted pictograph.|
|ML034: This is probably a zoomorph; perhaps a tall, thin lizard with a tail as long as the spread legs. The front legs are also spread. Petroglyph.|
|ML038: Probably a zoomorph; possibly a big horn sheep. The figure has been colored in with some dark substance, possibly for better photography. Petroglyph.|
|ML049: A close look at the deer and spear seen in ML044. There may be some white painting fading away on this part of the panel. Petroglyph.|
|ML051: This is probably a zoomorph; probably a beaver. It looks like the figure is trying to crawl into the natural crack in the rock. Petroglyph.|
|ML077: A stick figure that might be a representation of an anthropomorph, but is more like a zoomorph, perhaps a swallow or some other bird with sharply angled wings. We've seen similar figures at other sites throughout the west. Petroglyph.|