We first heard of the Fremont people as we hiked to Lower Calf Creek Falls in the Grand Staircase Escalante region.The remains of their storage granaries perched at the edges of the high cliffs above us, and we were thrilled to spot their painted rock art, “pictographs,” on a distant canyon wall.
They also decorated many of the rock walls of Capitol Reef National Park to the east, but here the Freemont people carved into the cliff faces rather than painting upon them and created “petroglyphs.”*
The Fremont culture farmed and hunted the Capitol Reef area from around 700 AD to 1250 AD. Their primitive art electrified our imaginations and created questions that can never be answered completely. Questions about ancient motivations and joys… about the death of a culture and the interpretation of its fragmented traces from centuries beyond.
*An easy way to remember the difference is to think: “paint a picture” for pictograph.
Updated from November 9, 2008.
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