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Peter Boyle and Janine Hernbrode – “Sights and Sounds of the Cocoraque Butte Rock Art Site”

March 19, 2018 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm MST (Arizona)

Petroglyph possibly representing the tiered cosmos with overlaying bell rock at Cocoraque Butte. Photo by Lance K. Trask

We recently completed a recording project at the Cocoraque Butte Complex spanning five field seasons. With the help of a large group of volunteers and the sponsorship of AAHS, we recorded rock art, a variety of structures and grinding features, as well a large number of boulders that produce a clear, bell-like tone (“bell rocks”). The Complex is located in the Ironwood National Monument and on adjacent private land. It contains more than 10,000 petroglyphs located on twelve boulder-covered hills of various sizes, with the major concentrations occurring on two of the largest hills. We believe the rock art was produced over an extended time period, encompassing the Early Agricultural Period through the Hohokam Periods and likely into O’odham times. Analysis of the rock art motifs reveals a large number of petroglyphs we interpret as relating to two themes of importance to southwestern peoples: The Flower World and Human Emergence as reflected in Origin Stories. Of additional interest at this site is the occurrence of over 120 bell rocks that show clear evidence of prehistoric use. We elicited sound from the boulders by striking them with wooden mallets, not rocks or metal objects, because the latter two would damage the surface of these important features. We believe the presence of such a large number of bell rocks is unprecedented in the Southwest and, along with the rock art, suggests to us that the Cocoraque Butte Complex was utilized for communal activities, including ceremonies, and that these events involved the production of music.



March 19, 2018
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm MST
Event Category:


Katherine Cerino


DuVal Auditorium, Banner-University Medical Center
1501 N Campbell Ave
Tucson, AZ United States
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