An Eclipse In
Chumash Petroglyphs

Photos by Norman Hammond


The Chumash Indians inhabited the central coast of California for at least 10,000 years prior to the mission era. The Painted Cave, near Santa Barbara,California, was discovered in the 1870's. In 1908 an iron gate was placed over the entrance. You can see some graffiti in the photos, scratched between the mission era and 1908.

In November, 1997, Norman Hammond took the photos presented here. Embodied within the design elements is, according to Dr. Travis Hudson and Ernest Underhay, the strong possibility of a solar eclipse diagram. If this assumption is correct, the paintings deal with an eclipse that took place at the cave site on November 24, 1677 at around 4:07 p.m. PST. The sun was close to Mars and Antares at that time, and they became visible during the totality of the eclipse. In the cave painting, the sun is represented by the black disk. Mars and Antares (which both have a natural reddish hue) appear as the two red circles beneath the black disk. The positions of these three elements closely approximate what would actually be seen at the cave, at that time.

- Norman Hammond and Karl Young



Photos copyright © 1998 by Norman Hammond

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