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WV - Tu-Endi-Wei Ancient Writing EarthCache

Hidden : 01/20/2022
1.5 out of 5
1.5 out of 5

Size: Size:   other (other)

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Geocache Description:

Petroglyphs and pictographs are picture writing left to us in the modern era by prehistoric native peoples around the world and in many different places.They are a common site in the Western USA, but not as frequently in the Eastern USA. This site has a preserved rock face with a distinct glyph on it.  

There are two types of "'glyphs" found that date to "prehistoric" times. Both are found in locations in West Virginia.

Types of Rock:

There are three categories of rock, all present in West Virginia. Sedimentary, Igneous, and Metamorphic.

This is a sedimentary rock. But what kind? (see logging task). There are three categories of clastic sedimentary rocks Clastic sedimentary rocks are composed of other rock fragments (called clastics) then cemented together by silicates.

The three categories of clastic sedimentary rocks are based on size --

  • Breccias and conglomerates contain gravel (>2 mm diameter),
  • sandstones contain sand or silt (1/16 to 2 mm diameter),
  • while shale and mudstone contain mud or silt (clay is <1/256 mm and silt is between 1/16 and 1/256 mm).

The smaller the grain size, the more rapidly the rock weathers away (and thus would lose the carvings made by native peoples). Thus, native peoples had to find rock that had a small enough grain size so that they could easiy create their complex art yet at the same time, choose a rock that would "hold" their drawing for an extensive period of time.

Petroglyphs are carvings into the rock, removing the top layer, often to get to a lower layer of stone that has a different coloration.

Pictographs are painted upon the surface of the rock with natural pigments.

There are 27 petroglyphs and 2 pictographs in West Virginia (at least that have been discovered to date). This glyph was discovered in 1963 in the nearby town of Leon (just south on the Kanawa River), and was moved to this sheltered location to help preserve it.

The stone containing the native people's script is called the Water Panther Stone.  It is believed to have been created as an alter stone by the Water Panther people (Shawnee).  The tail is representative of the nearby Kanawa River swirling pools (denoted by the curled tail), and the ledges are believed to be where the native peoples placed offerings to their gods. Of course, as you look at the carving, you may see a Water panther (think chameleon-like form with a cat like head) or some other creature!

It is believed by some archaeologists that the Water Panther was the opposite of the Thunderbird (another symbol etched on rocks in the Ohio River Valley region, and believed to be in complementary opposition to the Thunderbird (who is in eternal conflict).


Logging tasks:

1.  What type of Clastic Sedimentary rock do you see at this site? Please don't attempt to touch the 'glyph material to make this assessment!

2.  Why do you think the native peoples chose this type of clastic sedimentary rock? OR do you believe they chose a rock which had a small enough grain size to show detailed drawings yet has a large enough grain size to resist weathering? Support your reasoning.

3.  What type of 'glyph is on the stone?  (see descriptions above)

4. Go to the secondary coordinates and examine the riverbank visible at your feet and across the river. Compare/contrast the grain size of the sedimentary rock at this location with the rock that has been carved by native peoples.

5.  Per new EC guidelines, a photo acts as your logging signature.  Please take a photo of yourself, your thumbs, or some other significant item that indicates you were there in person.  You need not be in the photo, but something of yours should be!



West Virginia Explorer "Panther Stone

West Virginia Encyclopedia "Petroglyphs"

Wikipedia "Petroglyphs"

Wikipedia "Sedimentary Rock"

Additional Hints (No hints available.)