Sunday, January 11, 2009

Blythe Intaglios, Blythe, California

Intaglios (pronounced "In-tal-yos”) are large figures made in the desert pavement by Native Americans thousands of years ago. These designs can be found throughout the deserts of the Southwest and Mexico. Archaeologists call them geoglyphys and they are made by scraping away the top dark colored desert pavement, thus exposing the light colored sand underneath to create the designs. The best known images are found north of Blythe, California and are known as the Giant Figures or Blythe Intaglios. In 1931, these Intaglios were discovered by a local pilot named George Palmer. There are three images north of Blythe - a man hunting, a man with open arms, and of a four-legged animal. There are other geometric patterns near each image, but much of the details have been lost over the years. Although these images are best seen from the air (probably not a shocker - neither of us has a pilot's license, so that wasn't an option....) we were very surprised when we walked out to each one and were able to see the figures quite well. It was fascinating to speculate the reasons why these Intaglios were built….symbols for the gods, ceremonial purposes, communication, or ?????

To see the Giant Figures, from Blythe, CA, take Hwy 95 fifteen miles north. Turn left on the dirt road which is marked by a sign that says Blythe Intaglios. Drive down the dirt road for 0.3 miles to the first turnout. Here you will see two (of the three) Intaglios fenced off, about 100 yards away. Another 0.2 of a mile down the road you will find another turnout. Here you will find the third image (See the Blythe Chamber of Commerce aerial photo and additional information). This is the largest and the most well preserved of the Blythe Intaglios. Enjoy! It was fascinating and a nice way to spend a few hours.

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