Over the years I have made several trips from our home outside Tucson to the Sedona, Arizona area with my wife and family. On one of our recent trips, my wife and I decided to visit a cliff dwelling site south of Sedona: Palatki ruin, noted for a large display of ancient pictographs and some petroglpyhs. For the uninitiated reader, pictographs are ancient symbols and images painted on the rocks and petroglyphs are ancient symbols, and images scratched or incised into the rock surface.
Palatki ruin and rock art site sits several miles away from a highway that connects Sedona to Cottonwood. The drive from Sedona takes you down the slope of the Verde Valley, and the turnoff to Palatki guides you through open red dirt desert on an unpaved road back to a group of spectacular Sedona red cliffs. The actual ruin site is in a secluded cove hidden by trees, above a small riparian area created by a ribbon-like waterfall that flows down seasonally from the overhanging cliff above the ancient living quarters.
When we arrived at Palatki, we spent a few minutes appreciating the incredible beauty of the site before making our way to the small ranger station and visitor center, located in an early western farmers house under the shade of some large trees. The whole area has a park like quality, and is a very special place.
The U.S. Forest Service brochure on Palatki states:
Palatki and its sister site of Honanki at Loy Butte are the two largest cliff dwellings in the Sedona Red Rocks area. Honanki represents one of the largest population centers in the Verde Valley; this period in Southern Sinagua prehistory is called the "Honanki Phase" and is named after this impressive cliff dwelling. Many of the cliff dwellings in the Red Rock/Secret Mountain Wilderness area were occupied during the "Honanki Phase". The actual occupation of Honanki was probably between AD 1130-1280, based upon a tree-ring date of 1271, for a wooden window lintel in the upper ruin, as well as pottery shards. Palatki habitation is dated as AD 1100-1300The pictographs you see here have not yet been scientifically studied. What little we know about them suggests they were created over a long period of time and include several design styles. The earliest may date to the Archaic period (3000-8000 years ago), before the cliff dwellings were constructed. 1
We then started up the rocky trail leading to the picture writings, which are under a protective overhanging cliff, mostly on vertical walls in a series of shallow alcoves or grottoes. I expected to see some very interesting and mystical pictographs, but I never expected to see a particularly amazing written symbol that was actually waiting, painted on the rock, sitting unrecognized over the centuries, hidden in front of the eyes of countless visitors. As we approached the first grotto, this ancient image was directly in front of my eyes and stood out among the other paintings like a flashing sign. As a lifelong artist I have spent many years using artists tools and paintbrushes and I immediately recognized the red markings applied to the rock here as brush strokes. They taper off at the end of each stroke as clearly as brush strokes in calligraphy.
The red pictographs-like the example I photographed at Palatki-are estimated to be between 3,000 and 6,000 years old. (explained to me by a ranger at the site) The pigment is thought to be either iron oxide pigments mixed with blood, red ochre, or iron oxide pigments alone. If we take the Henrietta Mertz date of the 2250 B.C.E. visit above and add it to 2002 (our present date) we come up with a possible visit some 4,252 years ago to Arizona and maybe here at Palatki by ancient Asian travelers!
We then look at the 3,000 - 6,000 year old age attributed to the Palatki pictograph and it becomes evident that the ancient symbol painted on the rock, so long ago, can take on a whole new meaning. As far as I know, this is the first time anyone has suggested a possible Asian or Sanskrit origin of this particular pictograph at Palatki. Was there an ancient Asian visitor or group of visitors to Arizona, who may have painted this very symbol on the rock at Palatki?
Gene Matlock, 2 who has written books and articles on the possibility of an ancient Indian presence in the Americas, visited my web site and was amazed at the resemblance of the pictograph to characters in ancient Indian Sanskrit literature. He too saw these red markings as eastern symbols. And in correspondence, Gene points to a possible Sanskrit origin of this pictograph.
Although its exact birth date is controversial, many scholars agree that Sanskrit may be one of the oldest languages and systems of writing on earth. Even if we consider the later date attributed to classical Sanskrit (1500 B.C.E.) it becomes apparent that the dating of Sanskrit or its Indo-Aryan predecessor language could possibly coincide with the appearance of the Sanskrit look-alike pictograph at Palatki. If Sanskrit is actually much older, then the written language may have been established in the world before the appearance of the pictograph at Palatki. Either way, a traveler from the Indian subcontinent who may have made his/her way to Arizona and Palatki, could have had an awareness or knowledge of Sanskrit or pre-Sanskrit symbols. Native peoples who established contact with such visitors may then have acquired knowledge of-or at least familiarity with-Sanskrit spiritual symbols such as this, the AUM represented at Palatki. Perhaps they would have included these symbols in pictographs at a spiritually important site such as Palatki as they would other powerful symbols. Or perhaps this symbol was contributed by the ancient visitors themselves. Thus again it becomes clear that sanskrit is much older than belived and there was no Aryan Invasion.
The letter if at all sanskrit is actually the sanskrit "AUM" pronounced as "Om". But the tripple syllable has been turned anticlockwise by 90 degrees.
Sanskrit om or aum symbol
Image provided by Jack Andrews
in your jpg, (The photo in this article Jack) the "half moon and dot in the top part of the "om" have become straight lines. but the hooked features are still visible, though turned 90 deg clockwise.