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Know the West

The grammar of picture writing

Explaining the "locator symbols" in petroglyphs


Interpreting large complicated panels with interesting stories requires understanding the basic symbols and symbol combinations that makes up much of the grammar of the picture writing system. Researcher Levan Martineau found his first keys to breaking the code by using locator panels. Locators are smaller panels that either direct passers-by to a hidden or out of the way panel, or identify the location of a hidden waterhole, underground cavern or other important location. The first locator symbols deciphered by Martineau are shown below. (The following chart was adapted from Levan Martineau (1973) The Rocks Begin to Speak, KC Publications).

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