Idaho Students Wrap Up Five-Year Petroglyph Project

Dec 11, 2017

Students at the College of Western Idaho have wrapped up a five-year project of mapping and recording hundreds of petroglyphs in Celebration Park near Melba.

Students of the Anthropology Club at CWI spent two years in the field documenting hundreds of petroglyphs – symbols carved into solid rock hundreds or thousands of years ago. Then they had to organize all that data. Nikki Gorrell teaches at CWI and is the Club’s advisor.

"I mean there’s literally hundreds and hundreds of petroglyphs that we recorded,” Gorrell says.

The pictures include everything from human figures to snakes to suns. Debate continues over who made them and what they mean. Gorrell says the club’s goal was not to interpret the symbols but to preserve their cultural heritage by documenting them. They made sketches, took pictures, wrote descriptions and marked each petroglyph’s GPS coordinates. They wanted a written record of the symbols before they fade away over time.

She says that information will be kept on file by CWI and Canyon County for researchers and students. But they won’t release some of the information to the public for fear of vandalism.

“It is still a concern because some of these petroglyphs are in areas that are off the beaten path. We want to be careful about protecting them,” Gorrell says.

One of the students created a storymap of the five-year project, complete with pictures and video of entire documenting project.

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