WACA 144 – Basketmaker Pictographs

WACA 144 is not located in the main part of Walnut Canyon, as are most of the other sites in this virtual tour. Instead, it’s found in a side canyon on the south side of Walnut Canyon, under a ledge of Kaibab Formation limestone. Unlike most of the other sites, it is located in a heavily-wooded area, dominated by evergreens like ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, and Arizona cedar.

The site is also unusual because of the style of the pictographs here. The figures are reminiscent of pictographs in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah, like those commonly referred to as Cave Valley Style pictographs. These include “anthropomorphs” (human figures) with triangular bodies and narrow waists, arms bent down at the elbows, and straight perpendicular legs. This style has been associated with Puebloan cultures before about 500 CE, precursors of the Sinagua, referred to as the Basketmakers because they didn’t use pottery in their earlier phases (only baskets) and had very plain and utilitarian pottery in their later phases. Although a few projectile points associated with the Basketmaker cultures have been found in Walnut Canyon, no other artifacts or structures characteristic of the Basketmaker cultures have been found there, so the primary association with that culture can only be made based on style, a very subjective judgment.  There is one other rock image site in Walnut Canyon National Monument that may have images in this style, and there are a small number of sites in the Flagstaff area with similar figures. With no artifacts, and no reliable means to date the pictographs, the true identity of their original creators is uncertain.

Click the link in the upper right-hand corner of this page to get a “closer look” of these images.