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Photos: The Parowan Gap shows a gap in time

Visitors mark the spring equinox among petroglyphs — reminders of ancient peoples and the geologic forces that laid history bare.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Zipper Glyph, March 20, 2021 during the spring equinox, or one of the two times during the year the sun illuminates the northern and southern hemispheres equally. The Zipper Glyph is the largest petroglyph at the Parowan Gap and has been interpreted in different ways. The Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah believes the glyph depicts the story of a migration where many people experienced famine, drought, water crossings, cold, ice and hot sun and of a great Leader. The petroglyph also has been researched by an astronomer and archaeologist who believe the glyph is based on astronomical events, depicting the movement of the sun, moon and stars as a means to track and chart seasonal changes including the summer and winter solstices and the equinoxes among native people. Those theories are still under review by scientific and American Indian communities.

Millions of years ago, a river cut a 600-foot notch into the Red Hills of Iron County.

That cut, now known as the Parowan Gap, is believed to have the most concentrated collections of petroglyphs in the West, with over 90 panels featuring some 1,500 figures, dating back to 500 A.D. when the Fremont Indians roamed the region.

Located 11 miles west of the town of Parowan, the Navajo sandstone gap is covered in a patchwork gallery of American Indi-an rock carvings. Images of human figures, spirals, snakes, bear claws, lizards and geometric designs and the site holds sacred meaning for the Hopi and Paiute nations. The most interesting feature of the site is a large and deeply in-scribed petroglyph, the Zipper Glyph, aptly named because it resembles a giant zipper.

The glyph has been interpreted a number of ways, including a composite map of space and a numerical calendar, a planting guide, a map of travels and a story about a great leader. Although the writings have different meanings to Native Americans and have been theorized by astronomers and archaeologists, the true meaning of the petroglyphs remains a mystery. Interpretative events at the gap are offered in conjunction with the summer and winter solstices, spring and fall equinoxes, and lunar events. For more information on when these events will be scheduled, go online to www.scenicsouthernutah.com.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Zipper Glyph, March 20, 2021 during the spring equinox, or one of the two times during the year the sun illuminates the northern and southern hemispheres equally. The Zipper Glyph is the largest petroglyph at the Parowan Gap and has been interpreted in different ways. The Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah believes the glyph depicts the story of a migration where many people experienced famine, drought, water crossings, cold, ice and hot sun and of a great Leader. The petroglyph also has been researched by an astronomer and archaeologist who believe the glyph is based on astronomical events, depicting the movement of the sun, moon and stars as a means to track and chart seasonal changes including the summer and winter solstices and the equinoxes among native people. Those theories are still under review by scientific and American Indian communities.

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