I’ve sought out petroglyphs in a number of places around New Mexico, and I’m always fascinated by these images, chipped in rock so many centuries ago. But I recently came across an Albuquerque Journal story by Oliver Uyttebrouck you may have missed.
It seems Albuquerque historian Mike Smith has found inscriptions depicting Christian crosses and letters etched in stone north of the Sandia Mountains. He thinks they may possibly have been made by Spanish visiting New Mexico in the 1580s.
We all seem to have the need to make our mark so someone knows of our passing. Apparently this was as true in the Sixteenth Century as it is today.
Rick Hendricks, state historian, plans to examine the inscriptions. If they turn out to be authentic, they would be the oldest Spanish inscriptions in New Mexico, predating those of Juan Oñate made at El Morro in 1605.
One of the inscriptions, in a flamboyant style, spells “Santa Maria,” perhaps made by Juan de Santa Maria, one of three friars who accompanied Francisco Sanchez, a soldier known as El Chamuscado, and Fray Augustin Rodriguez, in their expedition of 1581-82.
Just like Coronado, they too failed to find the fabled seven golden cities of Cibola ... but then perhaps they were never at Taos Pueblo fifteen minutes before sunset.
Posted by Bud Russo
Explore! New Mexico