Graef Petroglyph Site

2006

The Graef Petroglyph Site is a horizontal bedrock petroglyph site located in Reeves County, at the edge of mesa country bordering the Stockton Plateau. The site includes petroglyphs that bear similarities to the Chihuahuan Desert Abstract Style of the Western Archaic Tradition, a widespread hunter-gatherer rock art complex that ranges throughout the Southwest. This style is tentatively dated from the Late Archaic and into the Late Prehistoric.

Petroglyphs are scattered in a crescent shape below the crest of a small mesa across eight separate areas, totaling over 355 m2 of art. Each square meter was drawn to scale and photographed. Elements found at the site include long meandering lines, serpentine lines, zigzags, concentric circles, geometric designs, varied irregular form complexes, rakes, anthropomorphic figures, large deep mortar holes and cupules (small ground cup-like indentions).

While the overall aspect of the art at Graef relates to the Chihuahuan Desert Abstract Style, 13 unique petroglyphs resemble owls, owl faces, and pairs of abstract eyes. There is also a therianthrope (a human figure with animal attributes) with large eyes, an apparent beak and a ceremonial headdress. This bird-like figure appears to be associated with the owls and emphasis on eyes within the rock art of the site.

Six additional rock art sites with element inventories similar to those at Graef have been identified in the eastern Trans Pecos. Research on these similarly-themed sites will continue in the hopes of establishing a new rock art style for the region that will allow for interpretation of the cultural affiliation of the artists, site function, chronology and possible migration patterns in the area.


View of some of the petroglyphs
Rock art specialist, Reeda Peel, documenting site
CBBS staff and volunteers documenting site