God Before Corn: Rock Art and the Origins of a pre-Agriculture Thunderstorm God in Ancient America

Author(s): James Farmer

Year: 2017


This paper asserts that certain Ancient American painted figures traditionally associated with established rain, agriculture or fertility deities, such as the Aztec "Tlaloc," in fact evolved from previously established Archaic pre-agricultural traditions that had already defined certain spiritual entities as "rain" or "thunderstorm" deities without reference to any formal agricultural practices. Evidence is drawn from iconographic and contextual analysis of anthropomorphic figures and motifs associated with the Barrier Canyon Anthropomorphic rock art style of pictographs, tentatively dated c.2500 bce-1000 CE, from the American Southwest. Imagery in this style suggests that Archaic hunter-gatherers may have identified an early form of "Thunderstorm" god unrelated to later formal agricultural practice. Direct field observations have associated specific site locations and imagery with geologic and climatic events directly tied to thunderstorm activity (thunder, flash-flooding, waterfalls, large-scale erosion, etc.). One implication of this assertion is that certain wide-spread, fundamental Ancient American "deities" may have originated long prior to and without need of formal agriculture. Comparisons to similar deities from later ancient American and other global mythologies support the contention.

Cite this Record

God Before Corn: Rock Art and the Origins of a pre-Agriculture Thunderstorm God in Ancient America. James Farmer. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429645)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17528