Petroglyphs are designs or figures which have been pecked or scratched into rock surfaces. The Sears Point area has at least two miles of basalt cliff edges that exhibit petroglyph panels. It is estimated that several thousand petroglyphs exist within the area; however, the most impressive panels can be seen from the parking area. Many different design elements have been observed on these panels, including curvilinear, rectilinear, anthropomorphic, zoomorphic, abstract, and stylistic figures. In several places, flat basalt rocks were used for petroglyphs to mark trails. Several major petrophyph panels may be associated with Native American myths and legends. The Sears Point area also has historic petroglyphs. Many of these historic names and dates have been affiliated with early trappers and "49er" gold rush groups who passed through the area between 1840 and 1860.
The fragile and isolated nature of the petroglyphs at Sears Point leaves them particularly vulnerable to theft and senseless acts of vandalism. Evidence of both can already be found among the irreplaceable motifs etched in rock. Here are six things that can be harmful to petroglyphs. Help preserve Sears Point by avoiding these activities.
- Touching rock art leaves oils from your fingers that speed the rock's natural deterioration process.
- Paper rubbings or tracings cause irreparable damage to the rock art.
- Chalking makes it impossible to use new methods of dating the rock art figures.
- Re-pecking or re-painting an image doesn't restore it, but rather destroys the original rock art figures.
- Taking rock art home is illegal.
- Graffiti is destructive and can destroy rock art, as well as deface historic wood buildings. Please respect past cultures.