Symbolism of Petroglyphs and Pictographs

Symbolism of Petroglyphs and Pictographs

near Mountainair, New Mexico, the Gateway to Ancient Cities

by Susan A. Holland

photography by Mike Rooney


With no written alphabet, records of the Southwest Native Americans were kept in the form of either petroglyphs or pictographs on rock surfaces.

By examining their symbolism, we are able to gain significant insight of their existence, a deeper understanding of their spiritual and ceremonial beliefs, and a glimpse into their daily lives.

Hundreds of such sites exist and are scattered throughout the world with some of the most artistic ones located in the Mountainair, New Mexico, region. Today, this area is referred to as the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument and the “gateway to ancient cities.”

The author’s work is accompanied with full color photographs by award-winning Mike Rooney. A quick reference guide is also included in the book.


“This is not my usual area of anthropology (I’m more of an armchair sociologist), but I greatly enjoyed this book. It does a great job of introducing new concepts (the use of certain symbols, practices unique to certain tribes, etc.) and explaining them in terms that are clear, but never condescending. I was pleasantly surprised by the price as well—I’ve had textbooks that were printed cheaply, bound cheaply, and still sold for more than twice the price of this book, and most of them did not teach me as much new information as this book did. Overall, this is a very useful survey of the history and culture surrounding New Mexico’s myriad petroglyphs—I wish I’d had it on hand during my last anthropology course.” L.J.

“Enjoyed the book and photographs.” David Udall, Executive Director, Eastern Arizona College, Thatcher, AZ

“The book is so beautiful, and the pictures are exquisite, I love having the information. I have several friends who want to borrow it.” Jean Chilton

“We love the pictures and it has so much information, very interesting.” K&F

“I found the book very interesting and I enjoyed reading through it.” V., archaeologist at KSHS

“A lot of similarities between the American Indian and religion in my country. It would be good to have this translated and published in South Korea so people from Korea could read it.” Sam, South Korean law student at Washburn

Petroglyphs and Pictographs – This book opened up a whole new world to me. Having lived in Kansas all my life, I knew nothing of this area or the people that lived there. The book is written in a manner that I could understand and enjoy. The photographer’s images tell the peoples’ story. I can see that a lot of work went into this book. Delightful! – BL

Very Well Written – Susan Holland’s petroglyph book is very well written and immensly enjoyable to anyone interested in the subject. Susan Holland’s book explains in very readable fashion the meaning and context of the ancient writings in this central New Mexico area. It will provide pleasure to anyone interested in anthropology or history, whether they be from New Mexico or elsewhere.


Susan is a native of Topeka, Kansas. After visiting the southwest in the 1960s she became determined to study archaeology and received a degree from Northern Arizona University at Flagstaff. As Susan pursued her career in the west, southwest, Great Plains, and Hawaii she became more deeply intrigued with petroglyph and pictograph symbols and their meaning. Motivated by a Native American friend who stated that “all things have meaning,” she persisted to substantiate that fact by researching the artistic symbols in the Mountainair, New Mexico, region. Thus, this book began to take shape over the years and has finally reached completion.


For Mike, being reared on a farm outside of Topeka, Kansas, instilled a deep love of the outdoors and Mother Nature. With an Economics degree from Washburn University, Mike survived thirty-five years in the corporate world when he “retired” for his thirty-five year passion for photography.

Along the way Mike received some very nice recognitions. In 1997, Mike won an international contest hosted by Kodak that resulted in his photography hanging in the National Geographic “Hall of Fame” along with some of the most outstanding photography in the world. His work has also been published in the several Kansas! calendars.

ISBN: 978-1-939054-12-8

Hardcover: Perfect bind, gloss laminate

Trim Size: 8.5″ x 11″

Pages: 140

Interior: Color

Other: Glossary, References, and Quick Reference Guide of Petroglyphs of Central New Mexico also included

front cover

front cover

back cover

back cover

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Hardcover Price: $35.00


Softcover Price: $22.00


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