Discovering Meaning

Human-like and other forms painted on rock wall

Pictographs from Seminole Canyon State Park, Texas

Who’d have thought an obscure canyon in west Texas shelters the oldest known writings in the Americas?  These icons were painted about the time the pyramids were going up in Egypt.

I’d never fully connected primitive pictures with writing, but these images very likely hold a message. Over time the same basic symbols show a progression from confusingly detailed to simple and more symbolized, a slow tightening to letters.

The exhibit’s explanation of that stripping down and stylizing tendency strikes a chord here. It’s what I do with every draft I write: enhance character while stripping out non-essential detail, words, even syllables.
Since the meaning of these images is anyone’s guess, I’m going to try my luck and suggest that the entirety of this wall’s squiggles has boiled down over the millennia to “KIS”—keep it simple. Or in texting speak: “X”.

About breathtakebyways

Ann Williams’ travel articles have appeared in publications all over the country including The Washington Post, Roads to Adventure, and Jack and Jill. Between researching and writing books, she specializes in creative lectures.

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