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Ancient images depict tear-streaked faces of female warriors at Medicine Lodge

(Medicine Lodge, Wyo.) — Thousands of years ago, prehistoric people carved messages into the red sandstone walls along the western foothills of the Bighorn Mountains.

We are still trying to interpret these messages today.

At Medicine Lodge Archaeological Site, hundreds of petroglyphs and pictographs have survived Wyoming's harsh climate, from snow and wind to heat and dry air, and are well-known today for their quality and quantity. The site was excavated primarily in the 1970s by teams from the University of Wyoming, today, visitors can walk interpretive trails, visit cabins and camp on site.

Did you know that these images, which include anthropomorphs (human figures), zoomorphs (animal-like figures) and geometric designs may hold as varied meanings for us as they did for the people who left them?

Some of the images depict life celebrations, challenges and tragedies. Along the walls, you can see rows of figures including bison, antelope and grizzly bears, and human figures interpreted as dancers, shield-bearing warriors and female warriors with tear-streaks coming from their eyes. Female warriors like these have been found at only a few sites in the world, researchers say.

Have you visited the Medicine Lodge Archeological site? What do you think these people were trying to tell us?