OU Logo
Oklahoma Archeological Survey
HomeResearchEducationResource ManagementActivitiesStaffOklahoma's Past
Spiro Mounds site shell engravingOklahoma's Past

McIntosh County

Click on Oklahoma map to return to county listings

McIntosh County, Oklahoma

The Handprint Site

Petroglyphs at the Handprint Site

Rock art produced by Native Americans both before and after European contact is found throughout the state of Oklahoma. These representations of animals, people, and geometric designs pecked (petroglyphs) or painted (pictographs) onto rock outcrops provide an immediate sense of connection to the people who lived here before us. While we can only speculate about the meaning of these artistic expressions to the people who made them, we can readily feel our connection to them. When any particular rock art was produced is difficult to determine. Pictographs have been successfully dated by chemically analyzing the pigments used to paint the figures, but this technique is very expensive and rarely used. The subject matter of some rock art can reveal the relative time period of its manufacture; for example, figures of horses and guns have been found which clearly were made after the first Europeans entered Oklahoma in the 16th century. However, there is very little way to determine when most of the Oklahoma rock art was done.

Handprints and shield figure

Handprints and "shield" figure

Handprints, like six of the 15 petroglyphs found at the Handprint Site in McIntosh County, are among the most common motifs in rock art. The petroglyphs at the Handprint Site were pecked into the dark patina of the sandstone to reveal the lighter, unweathered surface. The figures have been somewhat protected from weathering by a small overhang. In addition to the handprints, there are also "shield" figures, a footprint (see below) and a zigzag figure.

Footprint petroglyph

Footprint petroglyph

Another petroglyph site in McIntosh County, only 5 miles to the north, is believed to have some relationship to the Handprint Site since identical "shield" figures have been identified there.

For further reading:

Prehistoric Rock Art of the Cross Timbers Management Unit, East Central Oklahoma: An Introductory Study, by Charles D. Neel. The University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Archeological Survey, ARSR 27. 1986.

Number of Prehistoric Sites in McIntosh County Identified to Time Period

Number of Prehistoric Sites in McIntosh County Identified to Time Period

Paleo = ?-8,000 BP / Archaic = 8,000-2,000 BP / Woodland = 2,000-1,000 BP / Village 1000-500 BP
BP (before present)


graphic decoration

Oklahoma Archeological Survey 111 E. Chesapeake Norman OK 73019-5111 (405)325-7211 Contact Webmaster: archsurvey@ou.edu

Home | Research | Education | Resource Management | Activities | Staff | Oklahoma's Past