The Butterfly Site: The Most Accurate Mancos Canyon Archaeoastronomy Petroglyph Site

Mancos Canyon

Publication: Southwestern Lore, Vol. 82, No. 4

Author: Virginia Wolf & Edward Wheeler

Date of Publication: Winter 2016



Basketmaker and early Puebloan prehistoric inhabitants in the Southwest utilized petroglyphs in conjunction with geological landscapes to keep track of solar positioning and seasons of the year. This article is concerned with two concepts associated with one petroglyph panel located in southwestern Colorado on the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation. The first half of this article focuses on the archaeoastronomical mechanics of a specific petroglyph panel at winter solstice, where a number of linked images are skewered by a pointed shadow. Following the archaeoastronomy discussion a closer look is taken at the linked petroglyph figures skewered on winter solstice to determine if they represent specific characters in an ancient Puebloan story.