Monday, February 5, 2018

Blythe Intaglios: Geoglyphs in the California Desert

By Kristy McCaffrey

 You’ve likely heard of the Nazca Lines in Peru. Did you know that similar ground drawings—known as geoglyphs—are present around the world? The Colorado Desert in California (part of the larger Sonoran Desert) contains the only known desert ground drawings, or intaglios, in North America. These geoglyphs (well over 200 of them) are located along the Colorado River, with the Blythe Intaglios (near Blythe, California) the most well-known.

The Blythe Intaglios consist of three human figures, two four-legged animals, and a spiral. The largest human figure is 171 feet long.

Blythe Intaglios

Since the intaglios are best viewed from the air, they weren’t discovered until 1932 when pilot George Palmer noticed them while flying between Las Vegas, Nevada, and Blythe. In 1982, they were placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Blythe Intaglios

Since no Native American tribe has claimed ownership, it’s believed that the drawings might be from the prehistoric period, but radiocarbon dating has led researchers to claim the figures were produced between 900 B.C. and 1200 A.D.

The 1961 Hardy Boys novel, Mystery of the Desert Giant, featured the intaglios.

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Andrea Downing said...

First I heard of them, I'm sorry to admit. thanks Kristy! Fascinating. I was sorry not to make it to the Nazca Lines when in Peru but now I can aim for these!

Kristy McCaffrey said...

I'd never heard of them either, and I live practically right next to them. Will have to visit one of these days. When I was in Peru a few years ago, I passed on the opportunity to see the Nazca Lines. I get airsick very easily and apparently the plane ride is not for the weak. Oy! I didn't want to lose my lunch.

Patti Sherry-Crews said...

I never heard of these before either! These are magnificent. Love the deer-like creature. I notice there are fences around these. Good thing. Did you hear a trucker ran through and destroyed part of the Nazca lines last week? Thanks for posting. You know I'm a sucker for this kind of thing.

Kristy McCaffrey said...

OMG, Patti. No, I didn't hear about that trucker. What's wrong with people?