Pyramid Lake petroglyphs are oldest in North America

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Pyramid Lake petroglyphs are oldest in North America

Petro

Benson et al.

Scientists have discovered that a group of petroglyphs near Pyramid Lake have been there for at least 10,000 years, and it's possible they could be more than 14,000 years old.

Scientists have discovered that a group of petroglyphs near Pyramid Lake have been there for at least 10,000 years, and it's possible they could be more than 14,000 years old.

"And that is to many of us the oldest directly dated petroglyphs in North America"

That's Gene Hattori who's curator for the Nevada State Museum and co-authored the recent study on the rock etchings. They are deeply incised into a limestone boulder that was once submerged under ancient Lake Lahontan. The water left a carbonate crust on the boulder, which scientists were able to radiocarbon date.

Hattori says these etchings are similar to ones found at a lake in Oregon, which, up to this point, were believed to be the oldest, dating back to at least 7,600 years ago.

"There are certain characteristics of these designs, which include circles and lines, that are similar between the two areas."

Hattori says they can't say for sure who made the designs, but the rock art may give clues to the Paiute and others about who occupied the area at the time.