An incredible discovery was made at Wanuskewin Heritage Park in Saskatchewan, Canada, when four petroglyphs were found. These rock carvings date back more than a thousand years.
While it was Wanuskewin’s chief archaeologist Ernie Walker who made the discovery, if it wasn’t for his bison herd, he may have never found them. Last summer, he was feeding the herd at the paddock which is located approximately 800 meters to the west of the Wanuskewin building. He noticed that a bison was rolling around on the ground and after the animal got up, Walker realized that there was a boulder that was sticking up out of the dirt.
When he examined the boulder, he saw that there were grooves in a specific pattern that revealed it was in fact a petroglyph. “I was trying not to have a heart attack because I hadn't expected it,” he explained during the unveiling of the rock just days ago.
Interestingly, he had previously surveyed the area back in the 1980s but hadn’t uncovered anything until his bison revealed the historic feature decades later. “They uncovered it, just with their normal activity,” he stated. “I like to think it's their message that they’re happy to be here.”
The carving on the rock, which is known as a “ribstone”, looks like bison bones and may represent fertility. But that wasn’t the only discovery that was made, as just a few days later, Walker and his team uncovered three more petroglyphs as well as a stone knife-like tool that would have been used to create the carvings. “This is tremendously significant and very unusual,” Walker noted, adding that it is very rare to find the tool that was used to make the carvings, “You never get that”.
The ribstone weighs 225 kilograms (496 pounds) and was found near another stone that weighs 9 kilograms (20 pounds). An additional stone contains grid patterns and weighs 340 kilograms (750 pounds), while the largest is a boulder that weighs a whopping 545 kilograms (1,200 pounds).
As for who made the carvings, it is believed that it was the Indigenous people from over a thousand years ago. “Whoever did that, left it there or misplaced it, probably over a thousand years ago. I like to think it's their business card. They left their business card here.”
The carving tool and the petroglyphs are currently being kept safe in glass and are on display at the Wanuskewin Heritage Park’s building.
Since Wanuskewin Heritage Park is currently in the process of hopefully being recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the discovery of the four petroglyphs may bring them a little closer in completing the process. Darlene Brander, who is the CEO of the park, stated that the petroglyphs were the missing piece in the application for becoming a World Heritage site and now they have them. They are hoping that the park will become a UNESCO World Heritage site by the year 2025.
Pictures and a video of the discovery can be viewed here.