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Boca De Potrerillos Petroglyphs in Mexico Align to the Sun

A shot of one of the crests of Boca de Potrerillos. Photo by Ebarella_R (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

One of the largest concentrations of rock art in Mexico is located in Mina, Nuevo León at the site known as Boca de Potrerillos.

Though it is now an inhospitable desert, this area was once a thriving grassland and wetland.1 The rock art at Boca de Potrerillos is currently thought to be around 8000 years old, though there are sites nearby that have been dated even further back.2

Boca de Potrerillos contains around 4000 rocks with 8000-10000 carvings spread along two massive crests that form the mouth of the Potrerillos canyon (Boca de Potrerillos is Spanish for “Mouth of Potrerillos.”)3

These large crests run north-south with the mouth of the canyon between them running east-west, making the entire site aligned to the cardinal directions.4

Even though there are rocks in all directions suitable for carving, almost all of the petroglyphs appear to have been intentionally carved on the eastern side of the crests, deliberately facing the rising sun. 5

Symbols associated with the Religion of the Sun such as the solar cross, spirals, suns and concentric circles are found all throughout the site. This is particularly evident in the areas where there are alignments to the solstices and equinoxes.6

The stone monolith which points to the constellation Polaris. Screenshot taken from video (posted below) by Pedro O via YouTube.

At various points around the site there are large monolithic stones that appear to have been deliberately placed in specific spots to align with celestial movements. The one pictured above for example marks the northern cardinal point in the sky – the constellation Polaris.7

Some of the many solar symbols found at Boca de Potrerillos. This stone sits behind the one pictured above, which marks the constellation Polaris. Screenshot taken from video (posted below) by Pedro O via YouTube.

Another large monolith sits on an elevated spot 500m directly behind the mouth of the canyon. It’s surrounded by a cluster of petroglyphs containing images of circles and the sun.

The rock is thought to be an observation point to view the sunrise on the equinox, as the sun can be seen rising in the distance at the midpoint between the two crests of the canyon mouth when standing there on the equinox. The rock thus aligns to this distinct geographical feature where the sun rises on the equinox.8

From the same vantage point, the winter solstice sunrise can also be seen in alignment with a prominent point along the crest. Likewise, the summer solstice sunrise also aligns to a prominent point on the horizon from the same location.9

The large monolith which marks the equinox and solstice observation point. Screenshot taken from video (posted below) by Pedro O via YouTube.

Anthropologist William B. Murray studied this site extensively, observing that the site had been used periodically for thousands of years. He noted that some petroglyphs had been carved and re-carved over time.10

Murray also speculated that the earliest inhabitants of this region could have easily traversed to and from the area by water via the Rio Grande and Mississippi drainage systems and the Gulf Coast,11 making it an accessible area for the sea-faring people who traveled by boat spreading the Religion of the Sun.

Remarkably, another site was recently discovered containing thousands of petroglyphs which are very similar to those at Boca de Potrerillos in the nearby state of Coahuila.

Here is a video of some of the petroglyphs at Boca de Potrerillos:

 


  1. Turpin, Solveig A., Herbert H. Eling, and Moisés Valadez Moreno. “From Marshland to Desert: The Late Prehistoric Environment of Boca de Potrerillos, Nuevo León, Mexico.” North American Archaeologist 14, no. 4 (1994): 305-23. doi:10.2190/1vp7-2a0m-p3mm-em1l.  

  2.  One such site is the La Morita rock shelter which at this point is thought to be around 12,000 years old. MURRAY W.B. 2012. — Early rock art of the Americas as reflected in the Northeast Mexican corridor. In: CLOTTES J. (dir.), L’art pléistocène dans le monde / Pleistocene art of the world / Arte pleistoceno en el mundo, Actes du Congrès IFRAO, Tarasconsur-Ariège, septembre 2010, Symposium « Art pléistocène dans les Amériques ». N° spécial de Préhistoire, Art et Sociétés, Bulletin de la Société Préhistorique Ariège-Pyrénées, LXV-LXVI, 2010-2011, CD: p. 643-654.  

  3. “Boca de Potrerillos INAH Official Web Page” (in Spanish). INAH. Archived from the original on 2010-09-10  

  4. Ruggles, Clive L. N. Handbook of Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy. Springer, 2015. Chapter 48, pg. 669 – 678  

  5. Ibid.  

  6. Ibid.  

  7. Ibid.  

  8. Ibid.  

  9. Ibid.  

  10. MURRAY W.B. 2012. — Early rock art of the Americas as reflected in the Northeast Mexican corridor. p. 643-654.  

  11. Ibid.  

About the author

Vida Norris

Vida Norris is a writer and researcher who contributes to the SpiritualSun.com. With a background in permaculture design and landscaping, Vida has a deep interest in the ancient civilizations who practiced the Religion of the Sun and how they lived sustainably and with seemingly higher consciousness and interest in spirituality. She explores ancient sacred sites and pores over ancient texts, with the hope of bringing back the relevance of the Religion of the Sun to those interested in spirituality today.

13 Comments

  • Does anyone know anything about possible connections or transfer between this(/these) cultures and their rock carvings and some of the other Mesoamerican cultures? Such as the Mayans, Inca, Moche etc. that built and used pyramids?

    I’m just wondering from the angle of ‘active’ petroglyphs (if I may term it like that) mentioned on this website. Which communicate a message when the light falls on them in a certain way, such as those sun daggers and such.

    There was a point where I considered the option that some of the elaborate carvings/murals against the walls of Mesoamerican pyramids might also in fact be ‘activated’ when the solstice/equinox light shines on them in certain ways, and tell their messages. Bit like with the serpent at Chichen Itza actually, but with murals. I haven’t read anything about that, or if it’s something that’s possibly not even known to archaeologists if that would be the case etc.

    The memory of that thought just came up when seeing this post again, wondering if there is a transfer of this knowledge of using carvings and sunlight to tell something.

  • I really like the interplay between the natural alignments of the earth found in this canyon – how the axis of the cardinal directions is mapped out out by the crest and the canyon – and the work of man to mirror the heavens. It seems some places on earth naturally have these sacred alignments within them, which makes sense when you think that all of creation is imbued with spiritual principles. But it seems that whereas now we are blind and insensitive on a whole to these special energies, once people knew which places had these divine energies especially prominent in them and used those areas to create their spiritual art. That canyon must have been an incredible place thousands of years ago!

    Thanks Vida 🙂 The world is revealed as more and more magical with each new site posted here.

  • There seems to be so much history in this site. There are quite a few symbols of the spirituality of the sun in there. I wonder how it looked when it was first built.

  • That observation from B. Murray about how the site was possibly used periodically over thousands of years is quite a thing to consider. Especially in this day and age where things are built and destroyed rapidly and change happens so quickly. Perhaps in a way in simpler times, without all the technology wrapped around us, it was better for the individual to be able to connect to nature around, the rivers, the rocks, the animals.

    A thing as a rock carving might then be seen considered as something sacred upon the landscape. Subtle and magical. For a modern person a rock carving doesn’t do much.

  • Very nice just another example of the worship of the sun pointing out the spiritual significance of the sun, thanks Vida

  • This is another interesting ancient site where the wisdom of the Spiritual Sun religion must of been deeply rooted with these spiritual people. It’s really incredible at the number of Sun worship sites which to date have been recorded on The Spiritual Sun website.

    I really enjoyed the video and the music, thanks for sharing Vida.

  • Thanks for sharing, Vida. I liked the feel of the place presented in the video — very beautiful setting.

    One thing that caught my eye watching the video was a petroglyph of an encircled 5-pointed asterisk. I’ve seen that symbol before while exploring ancient Russian runes, which contain many symbols of the sun. According to one researcher who studied them this particular symbol was used to symbolize the North pole. It was his theory that this pointed towards Hyperborea, which he believed once existed there. I found it interesting that Boca De Potrerillos also has special markings for Polaris, the North Star.

    • Its beautiful what you discovered about that symbol of the encircled star Jenny! Regarding Hyperborea, I have also came across this info of this continent possibly once existing somewhere around the North Pole. Having briefly heard about “Hyperboreans” before, I ‘ve always had an impression that they were an advanced race/type of humanity that simply inhabited the whole Earth before us. Placing them specifically around the North Pole though, makes them somehow more “concrete”, like they were real after all. 🙂

      Here is an extract from Wikipedia, which I found interesting, as it kind of makes sense that they would chose to live in that region:

      “H. P. Blavatsky, René Guénon and Julius Evola all shared the belief in the Hyperborean, polar origins of Mankind and a subsequent solidification and devolution. According to these esotericists, Hyperborea was the Golden Age polar center of civilization and spirituality; mankind does not rise from the ape, but progressively devolves into the apelike condition as it strays physically and spiritually from its mystical otherworldly homeland in the Far North, succumbing to the demonic energies of the South Pole, the greatest point of materialization (see Joscelyn Godwin, Arktos: The Polar Myth).”

  • The site really makes me wonder about the culture that carved them, and how the site was developed and used. I wonder if various people contributed their own symbolic carvings to the site, as it seems like something that would come out of a more collaborative playful environment, than a rigorously planned one.

    • I was wondering about that too. It’s interesting that some of the rock art was carved and re-carved again, so you have this aspect of people trying to make sure these symbols lasted, while others were added later on. They did find over 200 stone hearths/ovens and there is evidence the area itself went through periods of being very wet and then very dry, so it’s possible people could have lived there during the wetter periods and had to move on when it was less hospitable and come back again later on.

    • I am also wondering about this kind of thing. Petroglyphs are something that I have not experienced in person and the scale of this site makes me wonder the kind of feeling that it gave ancient peoples and how it facilitated their religious practice.

  • Thank you Vida for your research. These rock art and monolithic stones have a history which is waiting to be revealed…It’s amazing looking the photos that many years ago someone left a message…Something important

    • I know what you mean Alexandros. I’ve seen some petroglyphs in person and it was really special. I find something so intriguing about rock art. The ones I saw had some of the hand prints there and some of the solar symbols and it made me feel a real connection to these ancient people, especially after learning more about the spiritual meanings behind some of the symbols, felt like they were old friends somehow. 🙂

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