Sunday, January 12, 2014

Carolinas’ rocks hold ancient messages

By Hannah Miller
Posted: Sunday, Apr. 21, 2013
“Until 16 years ago, only a handful of sites, including Paint Rock and Cullowhee’s Judaculla Rock, significant to Cherokee legend, were known to the public. Then, in 1997, archaeologist Tommy Charles of the S.C. Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology gathered interested volunteers and formed the South Carolina Rock Art Survey. The finds soon started adding up, until at last count there were 63 petroglyph (stone carving) sites, containing hundreds of images – prehistoric, historic and undetermined. There are four pictograph (painting) sites, all prehistoric… Soon to be a public attraction, a large flat-topped rock was discovered just eight years ago at historic Hagood Mill in Pickens County, S.C.
As is typical of much Southeastern art, the 31 images there, most of them prehistoric, are so eroded that they’re practically invisible in direct sunlight.
A survey volunteer who had seen nothing there in bright sun decided to go back on a rainy day in 2005. “Tom, you’re not going to believe this,” he told archaeologist Charles when he excitedly called him. “That Hagood rock is covered with little people.”
Those 18 “little people” and the other images on a 30- by 40-foot section of the boulder have been enclosed in one room of a new two-room building erected by Pickens County Museum (
The handicapped-accessible minimuseum is expected to open this fall, with low lighting illuminating the images and a circular walkway surrounding them.

Preserving a Place of Ancient Voices
“Native American petroglyphs were discovered in 2003 on a large, 30-foot-long rock at Hagood Mill. The set of depictions includes more than 40 carvings ranging in size from about 6 inches to more than a foot high. There are 17 human figures plus a number of abstract motifs.

More than 300 petroglyph sites are located in South Carolina, with the majority being found in the upstate counties of Oconee, Pickens and Greenville. Many of the Upstate rock carvings are at high elevations and are hard to reach for the general public, making the easily accessible ones at Hagood Mill all the more important. Some of the high-elevation petroglyphs are on the Jim Timmerman Natural Resources Area at Jocassee Gorges in northern Pickens County, managed by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The more than 40 carvings, including 17 rare human figures, were discovered in 2003 in a large rock outcropping toward the rear of the Hagood Mill property.  According to DNR, petroglyphs carved by prehistoric American Indians are found at more that 300 sites in the state, most of them located in Pickens, Greenville and Oconee counties. Many are at high elevations and difficult to reach for the general public.
Some of the high-elevation petroglyphs are on the Jim Timmerman Natural Resources Area at Jocassee Gorges in northern Pickens County.”
Attributed to: “Agency will help chisel away at fundraising goal for center” by Terry Cregar • Staff Writer • May 15, 2010  - Greenville, South Carolina, USA

And then here’s a little unexpected turn on the Rock Art:
Circle-and-line petroglyph. From: Discovering South Carolina's Rock Art, Tommy Charles, 2010, fig. 65, p.73.  (Which has got to be what's referred to on a FaceBook site for Hagood Mill as not being a modern carving executed by Hippies - that I can't find again and paste the proper quote) 

Circle-and-line petroglyph in position to process pine tar. From: Discovering South Carolina's Rock Art, Tommy Charles, 2010, fig. 66, p.74.
“This book, published in 2010 by the University of South Carolina Press in Columbia, includes a very interesting set of petroglyphs in South Carolina under the stylistic designation of “circle-and-line petroglyphs.” These can best be described as a good sized circle, deeply pecked on a horizontal rock face with a line running from the edge of the rock to within the circle. Within the circle the line either branches out or intersects one or more concentric circles. What I find fascinating about these images is that they are documented to have been used by Anglo inhabitants of the area for a couple of different household chores…”

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