January 10, 2009
Along both sides of the Colorado River, just before it enters Mexico and empties into the Sea of Cortez, are numerous prehistoric “earth carvings” or intaglios. The intaglios were made by scraping away darker surface debris to expose the lighter colored soil underneath. Located 20 miles north of Blythe California, the Blythe Intaglios are the most popular and easily accessible set of giant desert figures along the Colorado River.
The Blythe grouping includes different species of animals, several giant human figures, and geometric shapes all etched onto the desert floor. The largest figure is in the shape of a human, and measures 167 feet in the length. Most of the human figures are etched next to or near animal figures. These figures may have represented powerful individuals in a Native American family, or depicted humans interacting with their natural environment.
The Blythe Intaglio group is made up of three human shapes, a coiled serpent, various interesting lines, a dance ring that is 140 feet in diameter and two horse-like animals. The horse presents a major dating problem because the carvings must have been carved either a long time before horses went extinct, or more recently after the Spaniards arrived. Horses died off 10,000 years ago in North America. Horses weren’t brought back into the area until 1540, with the arrival of the Spanish.