Archive for God Rock Petroglyph

Pennsylvania’s Elephant Petroglyph on the Allegheny River

Written by Tom Anderton.

Originally published in Ancient American magazine issue #83.


A rock shelter near Van, Pennsylvania known as “Rainbow Rock” features the carvings of snakes, a human figure, apparent bird tracks and dots, as described by The Pennsylvania Archaeologist (Vol. 42, No. 3, September 1972).  While these images are common visual components of petroglyphs found across North America, the elephant depicted inside a rectangle on the face of a large stone standing near “Rainbow Rock” is not.


James L. Swauger, an expert in prehistoric rock art with more than seventy published reports dealing primarily with petroglyphs in the Ohio Valley, examined the elephant portrayal. “It is obvious at this time that the figure was carved recently by persons using metal tools, and that it has no relationship to the undoubted American Indian petroglyphs of the site,” he concluded in “The Bunola Head, A Forgery”, for The Pennsylvania Archeologist, Vol. 30, No. 2, Gettysburg. “Leo T. Sarnaki Carnegie Museum Photographer, concurred in this opinion, as did the half dozen others with whom I visited this site.”

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