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Black Mountain Complex:


The Black Mountain Complex is located in the Superior valley, north of Hinkley, California, between Fort Irwin on the east and Harper Dry Lake, off Old Highway 58 on the west:














The complex is only twenty-five square miles and includes Black Mountain, Opal Mountain, and a small section of Fossil Canyon. There are about four thousand classical, artistic quality petroglyphs and perhaps one hundred thousand pre/post-artistic representations, which document the same historical event: A genocidal war between two Paleo-Indian cultural groups, the Hokan and the Uto-Aztecan, around seven thousand years ago. The war was during an environmental period called the Altithermal, characterized by drought and extreme heat; the last battle of the first genocidal war for survival between these two cultures fought on and around the Black Mountain, within the confines of today’s complex.


The pre/post-artistic representations have remained unidentified and undocumented as petroglyphs because the artistic and academic communities refused to recognize human endeavors that do not meet 'academic' standards and expectations for 'artistic' quality. Much like the drawings of small children taped to the refrigerator door… not the superior quality of a Master… but meaningful art to any parent none-the-less. The palm print turkey and the stick figure family is no less 'historical' to a parent, than the rude chippings on rock by an ancient Native American five thousand years ago. Due to the self-righteous arrogance of the elite, this reasoning escapes both the academic and artistic communities; they fail to understand that the word 'ART' is, in fact, the single greatest contributor to the destruction of rock art worldwide. To the majority of the Eurasian population of the United States, petroglyphs and pictographs are nothing more than ancient Indian graffiti; and the stagnant, ineffectual efforts of our more intellectual scholars have done little or nothing to change the public opinion.


What many rock art enthusiast and researchers are unaware of is the relationship between the rock face, the physical terrain around them and the images; they cannot see the forest for the trees, or more accurately, the composition for the images.


There is more to a petroglyph than just the image; there is the shape of the rock face, the landscape of the surrounding area, the images used to represent various concepts, the language of the author, the importance of the event being recorded, movement and the passage of time. Nevertheless, 'you cannot eat an elephant all at once'. Therefore, this section will focus only on the physical landscape and the terrain features represented on rock faces as specific, identifiable locations.


The major components of this complex include both fronts of the battlefield itself, egress/escape route, a scaled replica of the battlefield and an amphitheater:


The Battlefield:











The graphic above displays both fronts of the battle; the Harper Dry Lake front, or main attack and the Murphy’s Well or secondary front…protecting a preplanned escape route providing access to the top of the mountain and defendable choke points with which to regain weapons parity in a hideously lopsided struggle…


The Harper Dry Lake Battlefront:













The Harper Dry Lake front was the primary assault on the stronghold and the focus of sustainable attacks…the loss of life in the first two days of fighting were mutually horrendous…


The Murphy’s Well Battlefront:
















The Murphy’s Well, or the secondary front was a well-planned, well-executed strategic defense of the stronghold; it succeeded in protecting the preplanned escape route used by the surviving Uto-Aztecan defenders as they consolidated, reorganized and prosecuted an organized retrograde movement to more defensible positions …


Black Canyon Egress Route:














The Black Canyon egress route was another well-planned, well-executed strategic defense mechanism employed by the Uto-Aztecan forces. When the Uto-Aztecan, forced to abandon their initial positions, withdrew to the east through Black Canyon, prepositioned support forces continuously launched devastating attacks on the right and left flanks of the attacking Hokan forces as they doggedly pursued the retreating survivors… 


Scaled Replica:











The Uto-Aztecan lost the last battle of the first genocidal war, but the surviving women, children, elderly and security forces escaped the catastrophic destruction by evacuating the Fort Irwin region several days prior to the battle. The women began the task of rebuilding the tribe; two thousand years later the Uto-Aztecan returned, with a vengeance, to reclaim their homeland. After the second genocidal war ended, the Uto-Aztecan designed and manufactured a war memorial, morning site and an educational facility in the form of a scaled replica of the battlefield.














Wilson G. Turner, an art professor at Reo Hondo College in Los Angeles, California published an inventory of the petroglyphs at the major sites within the complex, an effort carried out by his students over a three-year period. Turner called this formation a cirque and theorized it was created during the last ice age.


However, several platforms and the physical appearance of the formation suggest that the "Cirque” is a man made amphitheater, constructed to resemble a terrain feature in close proximity to the Tortoise head Gap, graphic below, on the opposite side of the mountain from the scaled replica.













This amphitheater is located across an open plane from Inscription Canyon and is capable of accommodating two or three thousand spectators during annual mourning and/or rights-of-passage ceremonies. Several petroglyphs within the region suggest that this facility was the site of a full-scale tribal gathering, a total of seven times, and that on at least two occasions captives may have been sacrificed as part of a reenactment of the second genocidal war in which the Uto-Aztecan reclaimed their homeland.


The potential to 'misrepresent' the homeland claims of the Aztec, during modern studies and investigations, based upon their former 'California/Aztlan' holdings are not lost on this author. However, these claims seem to be supported or at least acknowledged by Morgan, Acosta, Herrera and Clayigero:


"The Aztecs were one of seven kindred tribes who had migrated from the north and settled in and near the valley of Mexico; and who were among the historical tribes of that country at the epoch of the Spanish Conquest. They called themselves collectively the Nahuatlacs in their traditions. Acosta, who visited Mexico in I585, and whose work was published at Seville in 1589, has given the current native tradition of their migrations, one after the other, from Aztlan, with their names and places of (new) settlement. … The Aziecs, who came last and occupied the site of the present city of Mexico. Acosta further observes that they came "from far countries which lie toward the north, where now they (Spanish) have found a kingdom which they call New Mexico”. The same tradition is given by Herrera, and also by Clavigero. … "This tradition embodies one significant fact of a kind that could not have been invented; namely, that the seven tribes were of immediate common origin, the fact being confirmed by their dialects; and a second fact of importance, that they came from the north. It shows that they were originally one people, who had fallen into seven and more tribes by the natural process of segmentation. Moreover, it was this same fact, which rendered the Aztec confederacy possible as well as probable, a common language being the essential basis of such organizations".   (Morgan: 1877)


Morgan indicates the seven Aztec tribes came from 'countries', plural, in the north and spoke the same basic language. This origin is consistent with the Uto-Aztecans having scattered throughout the Southwest and Great Basin after the last battle of the first genocidal war, around seven thousand years prior to the Spanish invasion of Mexico.


It is potentially plausible that Central and/or Southern California may be part of the real-world location of Aztlan, an idyllic residence of moderate, year round, temperature and tremendous abundance that many cultural anthropologists, for their own reasons, have characterized as mythical. The 'New Mexico' indicated by Acosta does not refer to the present State of New Mexico, but to all the territory north of the 32nd parallel.  The 32nd parallel is an imaginary line of latitude, in the Northern Hemisphere, running horizontally around the world, which passes roughly through the lower portions of the states of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia, Baja California, Mexico and bypassing Florida to the north and California to the south.















A literal interpretation of the Aztec claim for Aztlan would suggest that the entire land mass north of the 32nd Parallel was claimed as Aztlan. A more Eurasian interpretation might suggest that everything north of the 32nd Parallel and west of the Mississippi River was Aztlan, since the Spanish land claims did not extend eastward beyond the river. Standing alone, neither claim has a factual basis upon which we can establish any potential territorial limitations in support of either claim, which may be why cultural anthropologists refer to Aztlan as a mythical aberration.























The purpose of this site is to inspire awareness, preservation and research of all rock art/writings. As the site grows and develops, it is hoped that YOU will help in these efforts by submitting questions, comments and suggestions: Our primary means of communication is the 'Contact' button above.






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