Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Winter Solstice Site? "Expert" says no: Ferre Pedem Speluncam

Photo of this sun mandala taken Spring 2013
Having seen this particular pictograph in what I assumed was perpetual shade, you can imagine my surprise at learning that this painting is actually fully exposed to light for about one week per year, and that that only occurs during the week of the winter solstice (Which apparently does not make this site an "official" winter solstice sit, though obviously the timing of the sunlight on this pictograph is not coincidental. Please read comments below.). This was something I had to see for myself. To that end I met several good gentleman for a trip out to the site. In the late afternoon this "bullseye" of concentric rings was gradually revealed in the full light of the western sun. Pretty cool, but I'm kicking myself for not having brought a video setup. A time lapse clip would have been pretty neat. Maybe next year.

This shot was taken at around 14:45
at 15:20
at 15:45
and the following three were taken at 16:00

I also learned a few new things while out with these foul old dudes. For instance, in looking back through photos of mine taken at multiple sites there seems to be some truth to the theory that the "bullseye" mandalas only seem to crop up at sites that catch afternoon or sunset light (there is one exception that I've noted, but that mandala is attached to another element I call "the dark lord" and resides in year-round shade, to be found on the Carrizo). The flip side of that is that those sites that catch the morning sun tend to have mandalas formed around pointed star figures and have triangular rays somewhere in/or enclosing them. Looking at my own photos I smacked my forehead at the obvious truths of this revelation, truths which, it turns out, are possibly not so true. The person whose comments follow this post has insisted that he has all the answers and has invested a great deal of time  researching and promoting his theorie . If you're interested in learning more you can read the comments below and read his paper on the subject of solstice sites. I still say that the timing makes this bullseye a solstice phenomenon.

The image that I call "The Dark Lord" with a concentric ring sun mandala. There are a number of astronomy based elements at this Carrizo site including multiple "sunrise mandalas", half moons, star and planet designs, so it is pretty clear to me that this site had strong ties to the heavens.

An example of a "sunrise mandala" (and below). Both these paintings face east, the direction of the rising sun.

A half moon, star, and either a planet or full moon, from the same Carrizo site as the three preceding photos.

That's all I got today, and Merry Christmas.


  1. Hi David - Very nice photos of some really obscure locations. I have a new level of appreciation for your hiking/climbing skills and thoughtful analyzing abilities. It is very interesting to me that even in prehistoric times, certain members of certain tribes had a handle on how far the sun would crawl across the sky each season before finally turning back. Members who had that phenomena sussed out held alot of power over the minds of the other tribal members. A bit of embellishment (by painting or pecking) and a bit of mumbo jumbo presentation/sales pitch at a known power spot could be shown to other unsuspecting tribal members at key seasonal times and the shaman would be walking very tall. A site that doesn't necessarily fit the sunrise/sunset mold of rising vs setting sun is up in the Simi Hills. I'm sure you know the place. At sunrise, on or about the time of Winter solstice, there is a light/shadow effect that occurs similar to the one you have shown. Members of the Ventura Co. Archaeology Society used to be able to get permission to enter on coordinated field trips. I'm not sure if that's the case any longer. Anyway, the concentric circles there are partially illuminated at sunrise during the winter solstice.
    I really appreciate all the fascinating things you post. I know you put a lot of time and effort in to this project. It has really turned out well!

  2. I always appreciate it when somebody has something valuable to add to my own limited insights. Most of what we think we know on this general subject is, and will always be, theoretical. Thanks for sharing. I really got a good chuckle out of your "visiting dignitaries" comment. I hadn't thought of that. Thanks for sharing that.
    I do know OF the Simi site you mentioned, though I haven't figured out how to access the site legally which is, undoubtedly, the best way to approach that particular spot. Thanks for your time whoever you may be. -DS

  3. Good afternoon Dave,

    Sunlight upon a painting during a certain time of the year does not necessarily mean it is a solstice marker. Personally, I would be skeptical of this particular painting being a marker as it lacks a sun dagger and occurs for a longer period of time than just on the winter solstice. You should read the below link as it may provide some evidence of this large site having a winter solstice nexus at a different location within the site. A good reason to return and look deeper to see what you have missed.


  4. In reply to your comment, I read the paper and found it valuable and interesting. And well researched. I'm not going to refute one single thing you say, however (there it is...), let's just say, for the sake of argument, that maybe this site maybe DID at one time have a light dagger? I added an annotated photo above that indicates that there may, at some point, been a point of shadow which intersected the "bullseye". Obviously a point of shadow still exists, and there are indications that this point may have been different in the remote past. Perhaps a portion of the point broke off, perhaps not. And maybe the whole formation was tilted a little during the 1925 earthquake. Who can say. Also, the photos I shot were taken a couple days after the actual solstice, and whether that two day difference in the sun's angle would affect the shadow I could not say. I'm just throwing ideas around. Thanks for your comment. -DS

    1. Fascinating Discussion! It is remarkable to reflect on the natives understanding and awareness of sky phenomena and what role it might played within their culture. As David correctly mentioned, this falls within the realm of the "theoretical" Nonetheless, we can always make "well educated" guesses based upon analytical data. One of the best ways to obtain this analytical data is by visiting, experiencing, and absorbing these sites as David and others have done. I've often pondered about the significance of the concentric rings present within the mandalas?

      Enjoyed Everyone's Input,


  5. That is an interesting bit of speculation on the missing rock or earthquake theory. However, if you had been there on solstice or seen photos from the winter solstice you would know that the bulls-eye is bisected right in half between the sunlight and shadow. There is no sun dragger at this location. This site has been studied and written about, known as the “Edwards Cave”, most scholars are skeptical of this theory as the painting being bisected with sunlight is not supported as evidence of a marker event like other locations such as Burro flats or the Window cave on VAFB.

    There are other bulls eyes and mandalas on the Carrizo plain and in the Santa Barbara area that are within caves that do not face due east or west.