Southern California Coast and Mountains

Motte Rimrock Reserve Pictographs

These are a spectacular set of pictographs located inside of the University of California Motte Rimrock Reserve. The Reserve is private and set aside for study and research only. I was enough lucky to be invited on site. There is a caretaker living here at all times. Please do not trespass.

We investigated several granite boulders and rock shelters with impressive sets of pictograph panels. The pictographs have the characteristic design elements (geometric style and layout; notably zigzags, dots, and diamond chains) of the San Luis Rey style. This style type occurs mainly along the San Luis Rey River in San Diego County and includes the Luiseno, Cupeno and Cahuilla territories.

These photos were taken on two separate trips. I noticed that some of the granite boulders have heavy iron staining on them leached out from the rocks by rainwater. The pictographs on these stains seem to be more vibrant and have lasted longer than others on the normal rock surface. No doubt it has something to do with the chemistry of how the rock varnish is formed and the pigments bind to them.

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About Guy Starbuck

Exploring the American West.
  • Nevada
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