Parowan Gap

Parowan Gap, Iron County

Parowan Gap is a canyon and passage through the Red Hills west of Parowan Valley. When the first Mormon Pioneers came there in 1849, Chief Wakara, a widely revered and greatly respected Paiute tribal leader, told them that Parowan Gap was "God's Own House." Recent research and observation is making both the scientist and casual visitor take this statement very seriously. There are solar and lunar events that happen there which were created by no human intervention. Phenomena occur which create a natural calendric structuring of the year's times and seasons with a kind of "Primal Logic of Nature". The pre-Columbian Fremont Peoples of the Parowan Valley noticed these yearly events and recorded them by date number and in many symbolic petroglyphic inscriptions. 

Walk with me now on a short path of discovery to see how the ancient peoples of the Intermountain Region calendared their year and attuned there lives to the flow of time and the changing seasons. First we must understand that for pre-Columbian people of the region there was no lexicon or dictionary. This means that while they have had common or similar calendaring schema, they did not have identical ways of representing it. However they did have the neccessity to represent it. Consider this: if a person was using a solar motion calendar and determined the time of the year by the sun's position along the horizon, he would have to not just know the position of the sun but also know where it had come from and were it is going. Each solar position is only meaningful relative to the sun's total motion. The sun's total swing of the horizons must be understood by the observer and carried with him as a mental construct. This visualization could only be handed from one generation to the next through representation. These representations, as they appear on the rocks, are what we are researching.

However even though there was no lexicon, a dictionary on stone is a little tough to pack around, the solar motion itself is the standard which is the same for all observers. Therefore that angle through which the sun moves between the solstice became a symbol of representation for the year, the semester between solstices and for time itself.

In 1983 a calendar was discovered at the confluence of Rochester Creek and The Muddy River in Emery County, Utah. This calendared functioned with a post (i.e.gnomon) placed in front of the petroglyphic panel. When the post was in place, it cast a shadow at sunrise on date markers on the panel. The shadow's position indicated the dates which divided the half year between the solstices into four 45 day periods. However a kind of time laps photography of the mind can create the complete semiannual form of the calendar, as drawn above. Over the inter-soltitial period, the shadow of the post moved up and down the panel face. The intervals of the these angles have been reproduced in various forms at wide spread petroglyphic sites often taking on the shape of a hand. Once the calendar was discovered and observed to function, it was then possible to understand glyphic numbers inscribed at the panel. The counting device made it possible to count the days and predict the time between observable events. 

 The Cairn Marked Observation Stations at Parowan Gap 

At Parowan Gap in Iron County, Utah a mountain was split open by a volcanic intrusion. The split mountain is composed of the overlying sandstone formation and contains many, many petroglyphic inscriptions. The pre-Columbian peoples attributed great power to the site which is apparent in view of the severed mountain. This place is called Parowan Gap. At dusk, the setting sun casts an illuminating ray of light through the Gap narrows visible as a "V" shaped projection on the hills east of the narrows. If one uses the dates of seasonal transition taken from Rochester Creek and applies their angular form to the projected sunset angles at Parowan Gap, one finds a complete system of cairns, or gatherings of stones, marking observation stations on those same dates.

The Parowan Gap Zipper Glyph Calendar

In 1990 serious research started at Parowan Gap. The first clue that the Rochester Creek calendar is also functioning there is the day count on the Zipper Glyph. There were 180 tick marks. The angle between the arms of the glyph also closely approximated the horizontal traverse of the sunsets between the solstices. Consequently, we had a glyph of considerable size and detail which contains both the angular traverse of the sun and the number of days it takes to make that traverse. Furthermore the cairn system divids the solar traverse into four equal periods which matches the distribution of counts on the Zipper Glyph which is the same way the inter-soltitial period was divided at Rochester Creek. Effectively the evidence that the same calendar was functioning at Parowan Gap as discovered at Rochester Creek was accumulating in multiple layers of coorelated data and observable events.

Once the solar calendar had been deciphered, it was logical to expect that a lunar calendar should also be present containing the same level of skillful understanding. It only took a little searching to find the Metonic panel with its lunar counts and monthly periods. In the figure above the symbols and counts all fit into lunar motion. In the big-smile glyph there are nineteen teeth the most fascinating count on the lunar panel. In front of the panel is a standing rock creating a narrow slot between the rock and the panel. Sighting through the slot points to the place of the moon's southernmost rise. The nineteen year Metonic cycle and the regression of the lunar nodes slip into synchronization creating long series of full moon rises at nineteen year intervals on or very near summer solstice observable through the slot. Above is the Metonic Panel and an artist's, Jan Wright's, conception of the full moon rising in the slot. 

The two photos above are of the summer and winter solstice sunsets and were taken from observation points marked by cairns as was the equinox sunset at the top of this web page. There are two additional observation points not yet discussed here. These are the cross quarters which are the midpoint dates between the solstices and equinoxes. The cross quarters are the key points of seasonal transition on the Zipper Glyph as well as key points of seasonal transition on the horizon. The Zipper Glyph's form and counts were made to nicely correspond to these key horizon events. In grand sum, we have a petroglyphic archaeo- astronomical calendar at Parowan Gap with correlated numbers, dates and observation point alignments that still functions to this day. There are multiple cairns on the key date alignments, and multiple events to observe for a full year calendar. There are observable events, correlated counts, marked alignments for the sun and the moon. And the same calendar is observable at multiple sites. 

If you want to express your opinion about the site and the research done thus far, click on the Peer Review Evaluation Form above. Also, detailed information about the site is now available from the principle archaeo-astronomical researcher on the Project, Nal Morris.