Experts differ over origin of
Diana Washington Valdez
El Paso Times
While experts differ over the origins
of prehistoric pictographs at Hueco Tanks, most people go there to
enjoy the wilderness or take in some of the park's history.
Victor Calzada / El Paso Times
Wanda Olszewski of the Texas
Parks and Wildlife Department explained drawings on the rocks
Wednesday at Hueco Tanks State Historic Site. Experts disagree
over the origins of the ancient artwork.
Victor Calzada / El Paso
Times Purdue University fans
Corky Ingram, foreground, and Judy Wheatley joined others
Wednesday in a tour of Hueco Tanks State Historic Site. Ingram
is the father of Purdue wide receiver Kyle Ingraham, and
Wheatley is Ingraham's grandmother.
Hueco Tanks State
Historic Site is open Oct. 1 to April 30 during the winter
What: Activities include educational tours, hiking,
birding, picnicking, rock climbing, camping.
When: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Sunday.
Where: 6900 Hueco Tanks Road, No. 1; 24 miles east
of El Paso. Take Montana (Highway 180) until you reach the
sign for the park.
Cost: Adults (13 and older), $4; Children, free.
Texas residents 65 and older and veterans with 60 percent
disability get in free. Camping fees are $10 and $12.
Information, reservations: Call in advance for
self-guided access, camping or tours at 849-6684.
More information about Hueco Tanks site at http://www.huecotanks.com/
Idalia Sullivan, formerly of El Paso, on Wednesday took three of
her nieces on a guided tour that made several stops at some of the
rock formations with paintings.
"I climbed the rocks here as a teenager, and came back recently,
and was blown away by what I saw," said Sullivan, who was visiting
from California. It was the first time her El Paso nieces -- Tamara
Hoefner, 15; Kristin Hoefner, 12; and Raven Anchondo, 5 -- had gone
to Hueco Tanks State Historic Site.
"I really enjoyed the tour, and I want to come back again,"
Tamara Hoefner said.
Recently, Jorge H. Jimenez, a UTEP scholar who has taught at the
University of New Mexico, told a group of journalists and others
meeting at Casa Mayapan that there are indications that the
prehistoric pictographs are Mayan or were influenced by the Mayans.
The late anthropologist Kay Sutherland Toness, a noted scholar
who used to teach at El Paso Community College, and Polly Schaafsma,
a rock painting expert in Santa Fe, have said that Mesoamerican
cultures influenced the prehistoric pictographs that might date from
A.D. 620 Mesoamerican cultures, include the Mayans, Aztecs and
"The pictographs, which include representations of masks,
dancers, and a figure resembling the Mesoamerican rain god Tlaloc,
also indicate a far earlier diffusion of Mesoamerican religious
influence in the region than previously thought," according to an
online article for the Archaeological Institute of America by
"According to (Kay) Sutherland the worship of Tlaloc was carried
to North America by trader-priests searching for highly prized
turquoise," the article said.
But Marc Thompson, director of the El Paso Museum of Archaeology
at Wilderness Park, who is familiar with the work of Sutherland and
Schaafsma, disagrees that the pictographs are related to the
Mesoamerican cultures. He said the prehistoric pictographs stem from
the Jordan Mogollon Indians who settled in the Paso del Norte
The museum in Northeast El Paso that Thompson oversees has a
model of the "pithouse" homes, for which the Mogollons were known.
Traces of such homes were found at Hueco Tanks.
"This is an old topic and one I completely disagree with," said
Thompson, who will teach a course at UTEP in the spring about
prehistoric cultures. "Just because there are some similarities
doesn't make them Mesoamerican. And I'm not convinced that they are
'masks,' or that they represent the god Tlaloc or Qzetzacoatl. It's
more likely they are supernatural visages or spirit faces."
Experts who subscribe to the Mesoamerican theory believe the
influence could have occurred as a result of contact, such as trade,
between the Mexican Indians and the indigenous people of this
Diana Washington Valdez may be reach at mailto:email@example.com