Saxon Petroglyphs

From Ohio History Central
Saxon Petroglyphs.jpg
This drawing depicts some of the Saxon Petroglyphs. The individual images are not to scale.

The Saxon Petroglyphs are a series of figures of animals, people and other more abstract or symbolic images, carved into the rock that formed the bank of the Ohio River near the small town of Saxon, Ohio. The Ohio History Connection archaeologist Henry C. Shetrone described them in a 1914 article in the Youngstown Vindicator newspaper. He wrote, perhaps with some exaggeration, that "Ohio's Mona Lisa has been found." 

The panel of petroglyphs included images of humans, a variety of animals, such as a bear, bird, turtle, and panther, and other, less clearly representational, symbols. 

The Ohio History Connection made the decision to remove two or three of the most naturalistic images, so that they could be preserved and brought to the museum for display. 

William C. Mills, then the Society's Curator of Archaeology, wrote that 

    "Many of the figures at Saxon already have been wholly or partly obliterated by the action of ice and gravel floes which grind over them during times of high water or floods. …

    With the pictures so inaccessible and visible only at infrequent intervals, and with their destruction only a matter of a short time, the Society feels itself fortunate in having secured some of the best of these petroglyphs, which were cut from their bed in the rock and are now on exhibition at the Museum." 

The precise age of the Saxon Petroglyphs is unknown. Based on the symbolism and the amount of weathering of the generally soft sandstone, they probably are less than one thousand years old and so likely are the work of the Late Prehistoric period Fort Ancient culture, or the early Historic Indians.


See Also


  1. Reilly, F. Kent III and James F. Garber, editors. Ancient Objects and Sacred Realms: Interpretations of Mississippian Iconography.  Austin: University of Texas Press, 2007.
  2. Lepper, Bradley T. Ohio Archaeology: An Illustrated Chronicle of Ohio's Ancient American Indian Cultures. Wilmington, Ohio, Orange Frazer Press, 2005. 
  3. Swauger, James L.,  Petroglyphs of Ohio. Ohio University Press, 1984.
  4. Diaz-Granados, Carol and James R. Duncan, The Rock-Art of Eastern North America: Capturing Images and Insight. University of Alabama Press, 2004.