Treasure in the desert: Petroglyphs
The desert is full of all kinds of treasures, gold, silver, and other rare elements. Even water in the desert can be considered a treasure and the source of immense wealth. One of the greatest treasures that we have in the desert is art, and we can truly call this art a treasure. And like all treasures, it needs to be protected and watched over because there are people who will steal and vandalize it. And of course I'm talking about the petroglyphs and pictographs that dot the desert landscape. And while this art form has been around for a long time, it is only now beginning to be appreciated for what it really is.
So for one who is looking at this art form and wants to put a value on it, all you have to do is use the same measure for this art form that you would use for any other. So when we shop around the various art forms, we will find that almost any piece of art that is five hundred years old will be valued for it antiquity alone; and of course, with petroglyphs we are often dealing with thousands of years. Then one could consider how easy a particular piece of art is to replace! Of course, this is why a piece art such as a painting or sculpture will be relatively inexpensive until the artist dies. From then on, the number is set; no more can be made and in a sense it has become rare. Of course, in the case petroglyphs, these artists are not only dead and gone but their entire society has died out and we know little of them
But there's the one replaceable element that all art must have, and that is beauty and style.
And here one might be tempted to downgrade or minimize the beauty and style that these petroglyphs and pictographs have. However, I would say to look again and you might see the skilled hand of an artist. All you have to do is look at the low quality of the modern graffiti that has defaced and insulted them in modern times to see that these ancient artists were skilled indeed. And then we should also appreciate that they incorporated the style and symbolism that was part of their culture and language that we know little of except through this art.
But what we do know is that the life of a hunter-gatherer is often difficult and dangerous.
It is a life filled with hunger and exposure to the extremes of weather that we living in this day and age really don't know. And so for a person living under these conditions to take upon themselves to produce art, to make something beautiful that would speak to generations yet to come is truly remarkable. If this is not enough for us to treasure them, to protect them, and pass along to all the generations yet to come, one can only ask what does this say about our present society?