Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Blythe in Riverside County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
 

Giant Desert Figures

 
 
Giant Desert Figures Marker image. Click for full size.
By Michael Kindig, October 1, 2010
1. Giant Desert Figures Marker
Inscription. Times of origin and meaning of these giant figures, the largest 167 feet long, smallest 95 feet, remains a mystery. There are three figures, two of animals and a coiled serpent, and some interesting lines.

[Panel #1]
Blythe Intaglios
In 1931, George Palmer, a local pilot, discovered these huge figures outstretched across the desert pavement on the terraces above the Colorado River near Blythe, California. Archaeologists call these kinds of earth figures "geoglyphs" or "intaglios". Geoglyphs can be found in three forms: one is where designs or features are created by aligning stones together; another method involves the scraping away of the desert pavement gravels exposing the lighter colored sands to create the designs or features; and finally the designs or features are tamped into the desert pavement forming an indented image. The "Blythe Intaglios" were created by scraping away the desert pavement.

Archaeologists cannot be certain how old the geoglyphs are, since dating techniques have not been developed to date these type of features. According to Native Americal oral histories, the human figures may represent the Creator, while the animal figures may represent mountain lions who helped in the Creation.

Many questions still arise after observing
Giant Desert Figures Marker image. Click for full size.
By Michael Kindig, October 1, 2010
2. Giant Desert Figures Marker
these figures on the ground. What do they represent? Why were they put here? Who created them? When were they done? What do you think?

[Panel #2]
Human Figure
This human figure is oriented north-south with its head pointing toward the south. Its arms are outstretched and its feet point outward. This figure most likely represents a male; it is the only one of the "Blythe Intaglios" that appears to have originally been created with a phallus between its legs. The figure measures 102.0 feet from head to tow, and its arms span a distance of 64.9 feet. Its left leg is pronouncely flexed. It lacks defined knees, but does have clearly defined elbows. There are no visible fingers or toes.

Original photos revealed a circular path that measured 131.2 feet in diameter enclosing the upper half of the figure, crossing the middle of the legs. All that remains of the circular path is the section that is enclosed by the fence.

Was the figure created to pay respect to the Creator?

[Panel #3]
Human Figure
This human figure is oriented north-south with its head pointing toward the south. Its arms are outstretched and its feet point outward. It measures 105.6 feet from head to tow. The torso combined with the arm span are 91.8 feet wide. It has visible knees and elbows. Earlier drawings
Hwy 95 image. Click for full size.
By Michael Kindig, October 1, 2010
3. Hwy 95
indicated fingers and toes and several lines coming out from the head. Could they represent strands of hair atop the head? Today these subtle parts of the figure are diffcult to discern. This figure is one of the least disturbed of the group.

Is this a figure of the Creator?

[Panel #4]
Animal and Spiral Figures
Native American oral histories mention mythological characters that may be represented in the figures you see here. Their stories mention the mountain lion who changes into a person and helps the Creator with the earth. Some non-Native Americans believe the figure represents a horse, which would date the site to post Spanish visitation of the area.

The animal figure is oriented northwest-southwest with its head pointing toward the northwest. It measures 54.1 feet from head to tail and its body is 7.5 fee wide. Its legs measure 26.2 feet long and at the end of each leg is a small half circle, interpreted to possibly represent a paw or a hoof.

Below the animal figure is an elabotate spiral figure. It measures 23.0 feet in length and is oriented northwest-southwest and has a maximm width of 8.8 feet. One interpretation is that the figure represents a coiled snake.

Is the mountain lion battling a snake?

Cultural Resources are protected under the 1906 Antiquities Act and the 1979
Bureau of Land Management Sign image. Click for full size.
By Michael Kindig, October 1, 2010
4. Bureau of Land Management Sign
Blythe Intaglios →
Archaeological Resources Protection Act.
 
Erected by Department of Public Works - Division of Highways. (Marker Number 101.)
 
Location. 33° 47.999′ N, 114° 31.654′ W. Marker is near Blythe, California, in Riverside County. Marker is on State Highway 95 at milepost 15.3, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. The intaglios are located approximately 2,000 feet west of the marker directly north of the dirt access road. Marker is in this post office area: Blythe CA 92225, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 17 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Blythe Intake (approx. 4.8 miles away); Palo Verde Irrigation District Diversion Dam (approx. 4.8 miles away); In Memory of Hualapai Ancestors (approx. 9 miles away in Arizona); Desert Strike (approx. 9.1 miles away); Pioneer Cemetery (approx. 13.4 miles away in Arizona); Ehrenberg Cemetery (approx. 13 miles away in Arizona); Poston Memorial Monument (approx. 14.9 miles away in Arizona); 390th Bomb Group (H) (approx. 16.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Blythe.
 
Regarding Giant Desert Figures. Sandstone pebbles glazed on one side with "desert varnish," strewn over the surface of the mesa, have been moved away, leaving
Bureau of Land Management Sign image. Click for full size.
By Michael Kindig, October 1, 2010
5. Bureau of Land Management Sign
Entering the Site of the
Blythe Intaglios
Giant figures made on the
desert floor by ancient man.
Please help protect them
by keeping all vehicles on
the established roadway.
Thank you.
Bureau of Land Management
Yuma District Office
the earth forming the figures; the pebbles were placed in windrows about the edge as an outline. SOURCE: California Historical Landmarks, California State Parks

Editors note: Intaglios are clearly visible on googlemaps satellite view.
 
Also see . . .  Intaglios - Geoglyphs in the Desert. From the ground, these figures are nearly unnoticable, as can be seen in the photos. From the air, they are clearly obvious. (Submitted on January 2, 2012, by Michael Kindig of Long Beach, California.) 
 
Categories. AnthropologyMan-Made FeaturesNative Americans
 
Panel #1: Blythe Intaglios image. Click for full size.
By Michael Kindig, October 1, 2010
6. Panel #1: Blythe Intaglios
Panel #2: Human Figure image. Click for full size.
By Michael Kindig, October 1, 2010
7. Panel #2: Human Figure
Human Figure image. Click for full size.
By Michael Kindig, October 1, 2010
8. Human Figure
Panel #3: Human Figure image. Click for full size.
By Michael Kindig, October 1, 2010
9. Panel #3: Human Figure
Human Figure image. Click for full size.
By Michael Kindig, October 1, 2010
10. Human Figure
Human Figure image. Click for full size.
By Michael Kindig, October 1, 2010
11. Human Figure
Panel #4: Animal and Sprial Figures image. Click for full size.
By Michael Kindig, October 1, 2010
12. Panel #4: Animal and Sprial Figures
Animal Figure image. Click for full size.
By Michael Kindig, October 1, 2010
13. Animal Figure
Animal Figure image. Click for full size.
By Michael Kindig, October 1, 2010
14. Animal Figure
Spiral Figure image. Click for full size.
By Michael Kindig, October 1, 2010
15. Spiral Figure
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on December 27, 2011, by Michael Kindig of Long Beach, California. This page has been viewed 1,121 times since then and 95 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. submitted on December 28, 2011, by Michael Kindig of Long Beach, California. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.
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