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Petroglyph National Monument

archaeological site featuring some 25,000 prehistoric and historic petroglyphs (rock carvings), central New Mexico, U.S. It is situated on the west side of Albuquerque, near the Rio Grande. In addition to the petroglyphs, there are hundreds of archaeological sites (including the Piedras Marcadas Pueblo Ruin), five volcanic cones, and two detached parcels of land that retain geologic formations of special interest. Designated a national monument in 1990, it covers about 11 square miles (28 square km) of high desert landscape and is jointly administered by the U.S. National Park Service and the city of Albuquerque. Most of the petroglyphs were pecked into the volcanic basalt escarpment of Albuquerque's 17-mile- (27-km-) long West Mesa between AD 1300 and 1650, though some of them reach back to prehistoric times and reflect the 12,000 years of human life in the area. Some petroglyphs date from the Spanish colonial period. Depictions of stars, spirals, geometric shapes, animal figures, people, and other symbolic images reflect aspects of the Pueblo Indians' social and religious lives. Contemporary Native Americans regard the monument as a sacred place and conduct outdoor ceremonies there.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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