Eccleston’s Pictograph: The Great Medicine Rock

Author(s): Paul Langenwalter; Titus Kennedy

Year: 2016


During 1851 the Mariposa Battalion was formed to quell conflict between a number of Central California tribes and settlers during the California Gold Rush. The battalion’s pursuit of the Chowchilla and Chukchansi tribes led to several important discoveries including a Chukchansi curing shrine and Yosemite Valley. Diarist Robert Eccleston named the shrine “The Great Medicine Rock” and provided a brief description of its use. This is the earliest account of any rock art in California and one of the few descriptions of the function of such a site. Eccleston illustrated 26 of the black and white pictographs, which he remarks was only a sample. He also noted the presence of natural deterioration and apparent differences in age, without specifying individual pictographs. The site is important because Eccleston’s account associates specific design elements with curing. Documentation of the panels in 1987 and again in 2015 using different types of photography and lighting have revealed new elements and enhanced others, providing evidence of at least 10 additional design elements. Many more have likely been lost to weathering. The use of multiple photographic techniques provides the opportunity to compare results between color photography, black & white infrared, and color infrared techniques.

Cite this Record

Eccleston’s Pictograph: The Great Medicine Rock. Paul Langenwalter, Titus Kennedy. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403473)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -125.464; min lat: 32.101 ; max long: -114.214; max lat: 42.033 ;