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In Search of Idaho's Petroglyphs

by Don Nelson - October 17, 2021

Idaho's history is full of stories of pioneers and miners, but Native Americans have been here long before any of them. As a matter of fact, if you know where to look you can see their past sketched right into the rocks.

Petroglyphs are images that are carved into rocks. They're very old and can be challenging to find.

Jan Summers Duffy is an archaeologist and curator at the College of Idaho and says the Treasure Valley has its fair share of Petroglyphs dating back thousands of years ago. "We have three pretty significant areas; one is near Celebration Park and then Map Rock." Summers Duffy says here in Idaho it was probably the Northern Piute and Shoshone tribes that used petroglyphs to communicate. "There's line, swirls, there's animals, we think it was a way to communicate with others or the deceased because most cultures are very involved with the deceased and what's going to happen in the after world."

Or simply to tell others where to go, and how to get there. "Maybe one of those symbols could mean you could go further downstream on the Snake River and then you will find this. That could be a pretty good explanation as well. I always say this, I have nobody to ask why they did it."

Map Rock is along the Snake River between Melba and Marsing. The third area Summers Duffy mentioned can also be found along the banks of the Snake River just west of Swan Falls Dam on the south side of the river. If you go there, bring a good pair of hiking shoes and plenty of water.


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