Extra-terrestrials or shamanic visions? The sandstone cliffs of Sego Canyon are a spectacular outdoor art gallery of petroglyphs painted and carved by Native Americans peoples over a period of around 8,000 years. They are characterised by more than 80 imposing and haunting life-sized figures with hollowed eyes or missing eyes and the frequent absence of arms and legs. Some claim that the mysterious figures are evidence of alien visitation in our ancient past, while scholars maintain that the strange beings represent shamanistic visions produced in trance-like states.
Evidence of human habitation in Sego Canyon dates back to the Archaic Period (6,000 – 100 BC). But subsequent Anasazi, Fremont, and Ute tribes also left their mark upon the area, painting and chipping their religious visions, clan symbols, and records of events into the cliff walls.
Advocates of the ancient astronaut theory suggest that the strange figures of the Barrier Canyon style rock art depict extra-terrestrials that once visited Earth. They point to the large, hollow looking eyes and the triangular shaped heads as evidence that the figures were not human. However, others, like researcher Polly Schaafsma (1999) say that they represent shamanistic art associated with ritual activities of the Archaic people. Ms Schaafsma points to the fact that the ‘spirit figures’ are frequently shown holding snake forms, and their torsos sometimes incorporate water/life-giving symbols. The presence of these types of relational (figure/animal) motifs is considered to be evidence that there was a shamanistic tradition alive, at least during a certain period of time, among these Western Archaic people.