By John Michael Rafter
Coyote Hole Canyon is located near Joshua Tree Village, California, and just north of the north entrance to Joshua Tree National Park. The approximately 3,000-foot-long canyon stretches from south to north and rock art can be found on its east and west sides on granitic boulders. John was first introduced to Coyote Hole Canyon and its rock art in 1990. During his studies there he encountered several surprises involving its rock art, the likes of which he has not seen elsewhere. John reports evidence of several rock art alignments with significant solar events, including unique sunlight and shadow interactions with rock art. Recent findings revealed even more solar alignments, and one such alignment appears to be still in observance by someone or some group as recently as 2017.
John Rafter has been interested in the study of rock art since 1975. He became Mr. Turner’s assistant field director in the Black Canyon rock art recording project and he used his artistic talents to properly record the canyon’s rock art. Ultimately, his study of rock art merged with his interest in archaeoastronomy, which then led him to sites he found to have astronomical connections in areas once occupied by the Luiseño and the Chemehuevi. This also led him to a fortuitous meeting with the late Carobeth Laird, author of “The Chemehuevis”. John inherited over 3,500 pages of Mrs. Laird’s ethnographic notes that contained rare information on the Chemehuevi’s vast knowledge of astronomy. . Since 1981, John has been one of the guest speakers at the San Diego Rock Art symposium, all on the subject of his many archaeoastronomical findings.
Bring your lunch, bring your friends, or just bring yourself to our Brown Bag Lunch Lecture Series once a month. Speakers will present topics of special interest for high desert residents. The lectures start at 12:00 p.m. Admission is $ 5 or free for Museum Members/Sponsors. Beverages will be served.