Rock carvings of Idaho

Rock carvings of Idaho

Rock carvings all over the world have usually something in common if they are of the same age. The rock carvings along Snake River are not the usual kind of local animals, hunters and a little about customs. They used some kind of script we hardly understand

Rock carvings, Snake River, earth oven, Polynesian umu ti, Indus Script, fireplace, Indus culture, Siva, Parvati, season for salmon, Ramadan, Sarasvati, Sindhu, Rigveda, transpacific trade

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View to the east at Snake River in Rocky Mountains

I got this emeil concerning the rock carvings made on free stones in the valley at the west side of the river:

Dear Sir
I had just reviewed your web site on the topic of
petroglyph, your topic on the Dal rock carvings bare a
resemblance to some I have seen here in my area in the
state of Idaho, USA. I would hope to send you a picture
or two for confirmation and perhaps get your
professional opinion upon them as to weather they are
perhaps in the category of which you have knowledge.
Thank you and hope to hear from you.


Similarity in solving the problem of symbolic writing in Idaho and at Dal.

The Idaho cut are seemingly about three seasons with Bearwatcher as leader in use in early second millennium BC like the laws of Dal. The upper line at Dal is about "marriage in Underworld" and the lower "marriage code"... see Law Rock. It is easy to see that Randall saw some similarity in using symbols and merge them to what looks like text

Cut from Max Bertola's southern Utah Rock State Park files at

These rock carvings are more normal and in a way like most places in Scandinavia and other places with figurative rock carvings. It is a mix from different ages when they wrote novelties to the rocks. We see the horse as the latecomer here, while footprint, animal print, deer, goats, circle and wheel are symbols that surely are much older. We see the Snake with head and tail and that is surely from the Animal Round in the sky

The rock carvings are totally a different "language" among the rock carvings of Western America. I take a cut from another letter telling about the location and such things:

"On the physical level the locations of these
petroglyphs are along the Snake River here in Idaho.
I have traversed the length of two hundred mile
stretches of this River's canyon and have noted that
only in six locations do these petroglyphs occur
and then only where there are islands, two islands in
the river where these rock carvings are.
These rock locations are not accessible by horse so
one is mandated to enter on foot and of coarse as I
feel by boat.

Several of these larger rocks show sign of being
heated by large fires so as to heat these massive
stones, purpose being to render fish fat from deep
indentations in these particular large stones. This is
obviously the case as you can see where an oil has
blackened and stained these rocks where it has flowed
out and down one side of each of these certain stones
with these indentations.

I feel the local population of indigenous people
where meeting with traders at these sites at certain
times of the year indicated by the notations on these
stones. Together they would use these traders boats to
stretch nets across the river at these island
locations, then slowly close these nets inward and
condense and harvest these fish.

Ocean salmon and sturgeon still inhabit these waters
yet now are locked in by the water dam projects.
I have debated this finding of mine with local archaeologists
who are in charge of the preservation of these sites,
yet to no avail. They cling to the desperate notions
that a simple Indian population whom had large horse
herds here wintering in these canyons.

This is totally absurd, NO ONE, can take even a sole
horse into these locations let alone a herd of many.
The local SHO-BAN, Ute and Piaute Indians know
there never was any food to be found in these locations
except fish. These Indians never possessed horses
in their past, they where among the poorest of all the
tribes in all America and never acquired the horse in
tell they where placed on reservations.

I am no expert on any of these subjects but I can
see these petroglyphs where pecked with iron, this
information on them is above the Indian at the times
mind ability and these locations are only of benefit
to a boat people".

I could not imagine that already at the first picture there are symbols for the "Earth oven", luau or Polynesian "umu ti" at the stone

The circle with three stokes is old Indus Script also used elsewhere in the Pacific

Let us at once leave all interjections and preconceived ideas. Still it is unique text and let us begin with this stone and later see what we find on other stones. One swallow does not make a summer and we need more examples of the script to be sure. Fortunately there are many more symbols of the kind on the rocks. I call this the Thunderbird Rock and it contends the best sample of Indus Script made with metal tools.

Most important argument for "visitors" making this is that the groves are made with metal chisel in the very hard lava. Randall is in the construction business and he knows the tools well. He has made some experiments and he is sure that only metal can make the rock carvings. We know that the Indus culture was specialised in metal trade. Maybe they were searching for metal and there is plenty of meteorite iron in the mountains upstream. In America they learnt metallurgy much later as far as we know by now.

Randall is right the script and the rock carvings have much in common with rock carvings on Dal my province. In fact there is a few similar symbols that must be common to many parts of the world. We have many rocks with spread symbols in disorder on Dal. We cannot solve all symbols but as long as we can understand a few of them and get a glimpse of their world it is a beginning. Yet on Dal we are fortunate to have a few big rock carvings made at one occasion so we can tell that they are ritual calendars.

Scandinavian rock-carvings are usually a mix of figures, ideograms and symbols. Some of it is local and others are import mainly from the south, but also as far as from India. We see the same kind of mix at Snake River. But let us start with the holy concept "Earth Oven"

Earth Oven

The general concept is the circle with three strokes for the stones in a normal fireplace

Asko Parpola has worked much on the Indus Script and I use some of his experiences and pictures here. He has gathered around 450 symbols with variants, but there are no real texts to be translated. Most of the samples are name labels, owner labels, packing labels and such things from the commerce. The use of simpler marked stones or seals is known from the Old World for nearly 10000 years. There is no document with two languages like the Egyptian Rosetta stone, so only fractions of the script and vocabulary is solved at this moment.

It is difficult to draw a circle by hand

Surely they chose this shape deliberately since it is difficult to draw a perfect circle without a tool. Nearly all the circle shaped symbols in Indus Script are made this way and with slight differences from text to text. We cannot expect to find perfect symbols in handmade texts anywhere in the world from that or other scripts.

As first category we can speak about clear copies like the oven symbol and even the "fireplace" symbol below at the cut. Both are so perfectly made so the doer knew his work. On the rocks is also the compass symbol that maybe explains the perfect circle. Second category is symbols that are much alike and lastly the third category where we have to use imagination and tolerate alterations. All are mixed with local trials in script and worst of all there are merged symbols.

All scripts in the world have many symbols in common depending on the fact that rural society was much alike everywhere. Another thing is as we see also in this case that symbols travelled all over the world with the sailors. Oceans were no hindrance and all kind of waters was the highways. At best they could make 100 kilometres a day by rowing and maybe much more sailing on the stream with the right wind.

At the continents they followed the rivers inland as here from Portland along Snake River toward Yellowstone. There they meet Missouri and it would be possible to cross the continent in fact. For those with light canoes falls would be no hindrance. They have found grizzly teeth from Yellowstone in Illinois and Ohio. Maybe people in West bartered to get mica and good flint from Flat Ridge in Ohio.

So there is no real objection to the assumption that some of the signs in the Snake River Valley are influence from somewhere in the Pacific. Once the Indus Script can reach the Easter Islands the coast of British Columbia is not much farther. Surely the first sailors have just been riding the stream and either reached Hawaii or the American coast. There is a little rock carving of a high seas ship on a rock in Hawaii that looks precisely as another from the Mohenjo Daro culture at Indus. At this stage I would not try to date and I let the texts speak for themselves.


Fertility symbolism

The Indus culture known from ca 2600 BC onward helps us in solving some of the symbolism in different cultures. On an Indus seal we see a naked figure standing between lotus stalks named "asvins" = friends = helpers. She is known as the naked rain and her headgear looks like that of figure A. The same motif we know from the Levant and she is perhaps goddess Astarte or Lait that maybe means "flow" understood as rain.

Figure A then associates to be Siva's consort Parvati since the young man is kneeling in front of her. On the seal are also the Aries or a ram and under that Seven Girls that should be the Pleiades. So the scene shows spring equinox in the second millennium BC.

Figure B is later Hindu symbolism for Siva and Parvati that were idols for the "first lowers" or start of season.

Figure C is from California and the upper figure symbolising the rain that in many cultures was symbolised by New Moon. The circle is the sun and warmth and the MA-symbol or boat shaped symbol is then earth or soil. Or in clear text the three components for life and growth.

Figure D is from Dal and sometimes it is up and down in the text. Maybe the bow symbolises rain and the fat stroke is the sun warmth. The symbol occurs on the Peasants' calendar in the section about growth.

The upper symbol in C is hard to be sure of since it could also be a fireplace and is then near Egyptian and later symbols for that. But they have always symbolised life and growth with fire as well as water and the soil is just the womb. The logic is that there is some increasing action in the hollow.

Fire and water are also tools for making food and making a bed for growing crops and vegetables. Their language was still poor so they used known symbols for the unknown. That is why we can see the Polynesian "umu ti or imi ti" with the meaning "luau", that is a special method of cooking for a feast. Maybe the same method came to Scandinavia in Iron Age from which we have mound of burnt stones. They suppose they have been used in a cooking pit.

A fireplace maybe. Note the cracked part that shows what is under the patina on this boulder. The picture should also more of the vast environment

We see the stone is cracked and maybe Randall is right about the fires. We know from much later times that the Apache traded dried flesh to New Mexico. Surely even dried fish could have been a good bartering product and traders from the coasts could visit the places. The custom among traders in the world those days was to settle on an island. Perhaps they easily could defend their goods. Some rock carvings of the same kind are found at Klamath Falls another river accessible from the Pacific.

Naturally we cannot sort out if the stones have been used in seasonal rituals or for instance when it has been season for salmon in the river. It seems that the coho salmon spawned in the North West Rivers both in spring and autumn. We know especially from the Norwegian northern coast that ancient fishermen from entire Scandinavia were gathered there when it was season. Another place was at South Skaane when the Baltic herring "went to" as they said.

Oil stain

The stones should be technically analysed before we know anything about the oily patina. Further analysis will maybe tell about other topic in their life. But some feast in the end of summer has been almost everywhere depending on their labour and industry. The astronomy ritual has Ramadan or the end of season and harvest year at that time. Naturally the Earth Oven have been heated for that or maybe for some other purpose.

Here I make a long quote from the beginning of the discussions between Randall and me:

"I have matched another random picture as in 6 B. This one shows a lot of staining more so than patina would account for in the lowest indentation of this great rock. I feel that this idea is manifest in this natural stone bowl as with the others which also have been heated and stained from liquid running out and down the side. The Governments assessment of the patina on the rocks indicates that the carvings at Snake River began as far back as 12000 years ago and ended with the Paiute 150 years ago".
I get the impression from your web site that thus far you feel that the rock carvings in the Snake River valley are only primitive renditions of knowledge past from outside influences. I detect the work of star priest or medicine men whom have commemorated their visits with patterns of the stars at the time of their visits.
One point I don't feel I have mentioned is the fact that these symbols are not the work of simply pecking on these large stones with flints, silicates of other hard materials.
I have taken great time in comparing the pecking styles with each and every of these other rock materials and have found that only an iron tool can leave these pecks at such depths and details.
I am absolutely sure that the majority of the larger symbols where done with an iron implement. Some certainly were done with simple stones but once you see the depths and actual details of these better symbols you can see that no rock material can do this certain pecking.
Not only have foreign peoples been to this sight, every indication of the looks and feel of this sight speaks of timed rendezvous. This was a place of boat peoples, no other reason would natives be in this harsh river bottom corner bench.
They didn't have horses here ever. They could not find food down here ever. They would not spend the winter here in such an undependable location. There are absolutely no knappings to be found for miles and miles around.
These are primary indicators of what a culture has to do and basic needs they must have on hand for simple survival, let alone the leisure to symbolically leave indications for such a vast amount of time in this one location.
Prediction of opposing peoples has always been a factor in Idaho. This protection from potential enemy would always be their primary consideratiYou simply can not stay in this area very long without food; hence the fish is the main aspect of this location. I cannot escape the fact that every location where their are petroglyphs there are islands.
Thousands of similar stones exist all up and down this river canyon. Hundreds of possible sites would prove far more suitable for prolonged stays but here at Wees Bar is the best location to see out of the canyon in both opposite seasons for seeing the sun sets and northern stars. This indicates fish running seasons and no other mammals could be in the area in any number, which could provide food at any time of year
I have found boat mooring docks and rock ballast at the river edge. You cannot forget these prime indicators and no one can argue away what this massive labour could be for. These stones are imported in a great profusion and that requires boats ... My friend these were sailors in boats whom occupied this and every other three locations where petroglyphs can be found.
These symbols are absolutely older than Iron Age, no question. Idaho is full of iron ores. Most of our tuffest lavas are iron and nickel, meteoric iron can be found now and then. Iron left on the surface does not last long. Stoves cars tools from no longer than a hundred years ago lie all over our mountains from the early mining days, not much over a hundred years and all this iron is almost rusted away.
There is no debating your conclusions about what you see as far as I am concerned, I just feel at no time in our past were any peoples ignorant. They just had to live in harsh environments and the act of transposing ideas to a medium such as rock is not easy in any age. But also I can assure you that not all symbols could be pecked with glass or stone and most of these better symbols where absolutely not done with either of these materials.
Iron I have found is the only material left as choice, no broken pieces exist around this site and erosion has not cleared any away that might have been there.
At this location there is Rock, Dirt, and these symbols. No shards, no smaller stones, nothing. I stand firm on this.
I am not trying to cause debate with you, no not at all. But this is not a primitive mind at work on this location. And even in our era I cannot make these peckings with any less than iron, and I began with soft rebar, beryllium copper and soft bronze.
I stand confirmed myself that at the least a chisel was implied most often, flint and obsidian is far to brittle and requires a very acute point meaning constant retooling of such points for the fine detail which implies shards of broken pieces strewn about the rocks perimeters.
None exist at all, anywhere, no flakes to be found neither in the valley of the canyon nor on any of the hillsides or below any of the cliffs for miles and miles"

Randall is my eyes and experience at the place. From the pictures we can see the quality of the boulders from a volcanic age on earth. They are not all the same mixes of stony stuff as we can see from the pictures. He tells about meteoric iron and other minerals.

From Scandinavia we know of search for metals in our mountains in the beginning general Metal Age 2300 - 1700 BC. They were "searching for the Lady", "working in the fork" or "searching for the Bear" everywhere on earth I suppose. Maybe the traders prospected and tried minerals and searched for gemstones in Yellowstone with their base below the falls.

Nowadays we think of bronze as an alloy of ten and copper. But in the early days they simply melted what they got from the ores. The quality and hardness of alloys are always depending on the minerals, the process and the finishing hammering.

Here I quote this from Department of Geology Chapter 4
Almost all copper ores contain some small proportion of arsenic, tin, zinc, antimony, or nickel, which mixes at the molecular level with the copper during smelting‹in other words. A tremendous number of subtly different alloys can emerge out of a smelter after a mixture of ore has been smelted, even though the geologist has been skilled enough to select ores that are rich in copper.
The alloys are still dominated by copper, but the alloy has a lower melting point than pure copper, which allows easier melting and casting. The castings are better quality, and the alloy is much harder than pure copper after it has been worked by hammering.
Paradoxically, the less pure copper ore that was available, the greater the variety of alloys the smith would produce from his smelter. By trial and error, early metallurgists (smiths) would soon come to associate a particular mixture of ores in the furnace with a particular result. In time, a skilled smith would be able to have some control over the end product, producing not copper, not a random unknown alloy, but a specific alloy to suit the job at hand.
The Bronze Age marks the time at which smiths became metallurgists, makers of magic, heroes, and gods. Bronze Age smiths were often buried with the tools of their trade: hammers, an anvil, knives and molds".

We should note that Metal Age began in maybe 6th millennium BC at Balkan. Today we know still too little for conclusions and especially the Far East is unknown to us. But we know for sure that China and India were skilled metallurgists in 3rd millennium BC. We have Sumerian documents telling that they bought weapons and metals from India. So if we find Indus Script made with metal tools it is no problem for that time.


Naturally I have already met objections, "I do not believe that other continents visited America before Columbus". I see such answers as coming from the "spinal cord" as prefabricated reflexes taught by the existing authorities. How can people answer before they have analysed the situation and the arguments?

Maybe I look like a little boy that never stops asking questions, since I believe that the child in is the true scientist. Always I am a curious and asking clever as well as foolish questions. Problemizing is what science is about in the beginning. In the finish it is about simplifying so that other people understand the conclusions.

Naturally I asked bunches of questions good and bad before I publicised these documents. It would not be good for my known high reputation if I am "running with a wind" as they said in my childhood. So here some good questions and more will come with further analyses.

Use and need for an advanced script

In very few places on earth we find advanced script outside the big city cultures before last millennium BC. There must be a need and there must be carriers of the skill. There are many places in America with rock carvings and also on all other continents. But generally they are all figurative and showing the rural life in pictures and not in script.

One exception is my own province where the figurative carvings came late in Bronze Age. But we have clear script from around 2000 BC and they are telling about ritual calendars and practical astronomy. The same topics were the main agenda in the big cultures. I know this kind of "unknown script" well since I have spent more than twenty searching for the roots.

Technique making the carvings

Naturally I am dependable on Randall's knowledge at the sites. He told me from the beginning that the figures must have been made with metal tools. I suggested obsidian from Yellowstone. But when I became sure of Indus culture as source I also knew that the metal culture of India was in frontline and mature around 2300 BC. If it was organised trade with perhaps several ships on tour they surely also choose a crew with different skills. The "umu ti" and "fire" figure above are very skilled handicraft.

Other evidence of Trans-Pacific trade

Carl Johannessen of the University of Oregon says American peanuts are found in two provinces in China dated to 2300 BC. At this moment we do not know if the Chinese sailed themselves or if traders from the Indus culture were specialised at transpacific trade. The ships in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific are clearly influenced by Egyptian as well as Indian seamanship and culture. We also see that Chinese ritual astronomy have something in common with the Indus culture.

Unfortunately Indian archaeology is until our time concentrated on a few places with little knowledge about the Ganges Valley area and other places. Let us wait for more substantial evidence knowing how big the population is today. We have to ask how big was it those days. Cultural "size" is usually dependable on size of population.

Around 50 symbols look very similar compared to Indus Script

We cannot expect the script to be standardised in the same way as in our days or in the big cities such as Mohenjo Daro with 50000 inhabitants. The technique of working on a rock is different from making script in clay and steatite. In Europe and the known cultures we "see" similarity with less samples than these 50 examples.

Did they have vessels for Pacific traffic?

My friend asked a couple of essential questions

Hello Bengt!
Crucial questions about Indus and America:
Do they have pictures of Indus vessels?
Do you think they were made for high seas?


Yes, there are at least a couple of seals/ tablets picturing the same type of ships as we know from Egypt. They have characteristic high stern and stem and a big paddle … In Traundelag Norway there are one of the same types. Another looks as if it were made of reeds in the same way as Ra of Thor Heyerdahl … I am not sure if he has discovered it yet. It might be too near? B. Landstroem thinks that type was used in 4th -- 3rd millennium BC

No, I do not think that travelling far was a problem even when riding on the Pacific streams. Once they were used too long distances at the Indian Ocean we know of, travelling at the Pacific only lasted for longer time. Surely they rather followed land since they could get their supplies ashore. But as soon as we know that the mighty Pacific was colonised by catamarans and long boats, then we can ask for how long backward did they use that kind of vessels.

… our preconceived ideas and lack of evidence make the limits for our open mind. Seeking for evidence on big sparsely populated continents like America would be like searching for the needle in a haystack. I have seen pictures of mossy rock carvings at Hawaii. Nature covers much of the evidence in time. A friend opened my eyes for South America. There is a huge land to discover. The world is much bigger than the Old World that grew a lot when people discover that Indus is third part of that with 1000000000

I wonder about the lack of boat symbolism in the Harappa and Mohenjo Daro culture, however both were cities inland near the river Saravati. We know for sure that they traded at Egypt en Sumer so why not in the other direction? The archaeology of East Asia is unknown to the Euro-centric scientist partly depending on that the discipline is new and in that environment nature takes back. In fact most of the Indus culture lies in Pakistan nowadays and working in two countries make it naturally difficult in many aspects.

Maybe in future they will find some city near the Indian Ocean with more evidence of trade. At that time there were two rivers Sarasvati and Sindhu according to latest discoveries using Landsat pictures. Some scientists want to call it Sarasvati--Sindhu culture, but I use still Indus since it is known and because the culture seems to cover a bigger area than the former river valleys. They are not sure how and when nature made the "shake up of landscape" but it is after the heydays of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro … we know also from the Nile Delta that the stream has altered the landscape and ancient cities disappeared. the site of Dr. Kalyanaraman is a gold mine when digging in Indus culture. There I found an article about 33 places in Rigveda mentioning boats/ ships. My impression is that their outlook in space-time is much the same as we see in Scandinavian rock carvings.

Firstly we have to translate the ideas to normal language. Then we see that the boats are sailing in the celestial sphere as well as in the environment. Some boats sail on the heavenly rivers while others are metaphors for movements. Unfortunately most of the hymns are for rituals with only fragments about the real world. The god Indra is thunderstorm with a thunderbolt and he uses a ship in many poems. Agni, the fire is also described as a sailor when the fire moves and naturally Maruts the winds are true sailors. The Asvins were protectors of the sailors.

Some verse tells that Sarasvati is the river as well as the heavenly river. Naturally the goddess Aiditi, the Earth comes in a boat on Sarasvati for the reciters to board. That tells us about ritual boats in the time before the shake-up. There is also a verse about a drowned boat in Sarasvati.

In Rigveda there are no dates so we have to analyse the motifs to get relative dating. We have also to analyse how ideas are created for symbols and poems. Mostly people use known things in both cases. So if a poem mention certain kind of vessels they are taken from the surroundings in the time the poet wrote.

Rigveda mentions freight ships, long boats, house boats, high quality boats with oars, ships used for overseas freight of seed, ships for high seas and one of them was furnished with hundred oars.

Naturally archaeology must build on physical evidence if possible. And there are much evidence about cultural interchange westward to Mesopotamia and Egypt. The heydays of Indus culture were also the early Bronze Age. In India they were mining copper as well as tin and became specialist in the trade

… the reflections of this age is the slab cist culture in Scandinavia and they also were searching for metal as we see in our province. The Shang dynasty in China became big consumers of copper and tin for bronze and we can ask who taught them the metallurgy or did they teach others? I think we have to be open for East Asian trade.