Have you ever wondered about the LAW logo?
It is a turtle motif based on an engraved petroglyph panel at a prehistoric site in Lee County near the Red River Gorge. The petroglyph – an image pecked or incised into a rock face – is the only clear example of a turtle known at rock art sites across the entire state. We do not know the age of the turtle, but it could be hundreds or thousands of years old.
The design is an example of a zoomorphic motif, or one that illustrates the shape of an animal. At rock art sites in Kentucky, the most common zoomorphs are deer tracks and turkey tracks, which resemble the footprints of those animals.
In the Red River Gorge, deer tracks and turkey tracks are often found at rock art sites. Other animal designs are very uncommon and include an insect-like motif and a mythical six-footed animal resembling two superimposed animals in head-to-head combat. These designs were also found at sites in Lee County.
The turtle rock art site is one of 22 rock art sites on the Daniel Boone National Forest that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Kentucky Rock Art Sites multiple-property registration. The rock art sites, which are 250 to 3000 years old, are threatened by vandalism. Senseless people write their names over the ancient carvings and try to bust them free from the rocks.
Turtles represent mother earth, good health and long life, and perseverance and protection in many contemporary Native religions. At rock art sites, zoomorphic motifs like the turtle may represent mythical figures, clan symbols, or guardian spirits.
© 2015 Living Archaeology Weekend Steering Committee
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