Tuesday April 25, 2017
Alcalde, NM 87511
Contact:Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project
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Ron Barber talks about rare basalt and granite rocks that have a unique microstructure generating a ringing acoustic sound when struck.
The Stone Calendar Project has been studying rock art sites throughout the Southwest and northern Mexico identifying glyphs that mark specific times of the year using unique light and shadow interactions. Many of the rock art sites exhibit evidence of additional cultural rituals that occurred at the calendar sites. One of the interesting findings is the presence of "ringing rocks", sometimes referred to as gong rocks in other parts of the world. These rare basalt and granite rocks have a unique microstructure that generates a ringing acoustic sound when struck. Most of the ringing rocks identified have been raised and placed on elevated supports, providing free edges that are less damped, producing a clear bell-like ringing tone. The points at which the rocks are struck are easily identified by markings and produce a wide range of tones. Even at the locations where ringing rocks are found, only a small fraction of the rocks exhibit these unique acoustic properties. The ringing rocks are generally located at rock art sites, occasionally with some glyphs and cupules engraved onto the ringing rocks. Due to the close proximity of the ringing rocks to the stone calendar sites, there was most likely an important cultural relationship. Ethnographic reports from the southwest reveal use of these rocks, but have limited descriptive information on rock composition or range of applications. The study has identified multiple ringing rock sites and quarries in New Mexico and Arizona, occurring in Puebloan, Hohokam, and Patayan cultures.
Ron Barber was born and raised in the oilfields of South America and enjoyed many adventures among indigenous cultures and ancient sites. He is an engineer with 30 years’ experience at national laboratories in California and New Mexico. Ron has developed a systematic approach to surveying and identifying petroglyphs for study, particularly those potentially related to early astronomical knowledge.