Petroglyphs

Posted by Ellen

At low tide, you can paddle a boat out into Machias Bay, way downeast in Maine, to get a look at Native American petroglyphs that are hundreds or thousands of years old.

Passamaquoddy and Maleseet Indians drew pictures on bedrock outcroppings near the bay by pecking at the rock with sharp pieces of harder rock. About 500 drawings in 9 sites are known today.

Some of the meanings are obvious, such as the drawing of a deer at a spot near Machias Falls where deer can often be seen to this day. Other images are believed to reflect visionary experience, in which birds, for example, may be interpreted as messengers from afar.

Cultural style and probably age of the petroglyphs seem to vary. Some may be only 400 years old, while others are thought to have been created more than 3,000 years ago.

Most of the Machias petroglyphs are now under water except perhaps at lowest tide. The petroglyphs were probably created on land near the shore of the bay and its islands because that's where the largest exposures of bare rock would be found; unfortunately, sea level has been rising ialong the Maine coast ever since the end of the last Ice Age.