New Paintings of Time and Space

Mittens, Lightning, and Coming Storm - Arizona.
11 x 14 inches

Watercolors by Craig Welch.
Copyright © 2010. All rights reserved.

Judaculla Rock (Jackson Co., NC) - the astronomy aspect.

Steps to Understanding the Judaculla Rock.

1. 1981 - I first saw the Judaculla Rock. I was struck by the use of large cup-holes over the surface of the rock. This was unexpected for a petroglyph.

2. 1983 - In St. Louis I happened to see a Scientific American article about megalithic standing stones in Scotland. An illustration of cup-and-ring style carving resembled what I had seen on the Judaculla stone. A connection to Scotland seemed unlikely; yet the coincidence was always in my mind.

3. Unrelated in subject but useful for research, in 2009 I did an extensive research project using Google Books to locate Scottish books of the 19th century.

4. Oct.-Nov. 2010 - Using Google Books to look up the history of Whiteside Mountain of Jackson County, NC, I ran across James Mooney's reports to the Smithsonian in 1888 about the culture and legends of the Cherokee. Here I saw the remark about Judaculla Rock as enigmatic event explained by the Cherokee stories of Tsul'Kalu, the slant-eyed giant who made the marks by jumping down from the mountain tops to the Cany Fork Creek.

5. Oct. 2010 I pick up on the notion of megalithic stones in Scotland using local library resources and compare cup-and-ring photographs with numerous photographs of Judaculla Rock found on the Internet.

6. Reasoning that astronomy is a fundamental principle in the culture of the Scotland stone circles, I make a test assumption that Judaculla Rock is in some way used for astronomy.

7. Looking at the image on the rock without predisposition other than what connections to astronomy might be present - given the assumption that such existed - I could see the stone's surface had fewer cup-holes on the right and left; and the great majority of small and some large cup-holes lay in the middle section, which was also demarcated from the left and right sections by strong lines. The right-hand line was especially deeply grooved and quite straight. The left-hand section had one principal cup-hole that was by far the largest; also, the images seemed more pictorial than in the center section. Looking in the center section where small cup-holes completely cover the rock surface, were 5 medium sized and deep cup-holes that are configured in an accurate rendering of the bowl in The Big Dipper. The coincidences of the image resembling a day-night-day image with a depiction of the bowl of the constellation we know as The Big Dipper seemed to give confirmation that the rock was in fact used for some purpose of astronomy.

Judaculla Rock - symbols similar to Pict hieroglyphics.

The Roman name 'Picti' was given to this North Scotland clan because of their
propensity to express their existence pictorially (i.e. body painting).
Looking then to their hieroglyphs was a conscious choice. The similarities to
Judaculla's pictorial symbols and the consistency with the astronomy is uncanny.

Judaculla Rock - a partial translation.

Judaculla Rock - the right side symbols.

Sun-and-Moon symbol.

Asterism of The Pleiades and The Dipper.

7 stars of The Pleiades star cluster fit the stone perfectly; an 8th
is off only by a small amount. The Pleiades rises at dusk in Autumn and sets
at dusk in the Spring in the orientation shown. Extremely good vision reveals
7 stars to the unaided eye; 8 stars is exceptionally good vision. It is
worth noting that 7 of these cup-holes are isolated by two encircling lines.

The photograph of the rock was taken on Nov 19, 2010. Courtesy of
The Crossroads Chronicle of Cashiers, NC.

Comparison of Judaculla carving style with Pict symbols from Fife, Scotland,
carvings that show some chief deviations from the general Pict style.
(See the bibliography below for Sir J.Y. Simpson, 1867, Plate II.)

A closer look at Fig. 15 rotated 180 degrees and compared to Judaculla's,
Pleiades cup-holes reveals a marked similarity: Fig. 15 would then equate.
to the rising of the star group and Judaculla's would be the setting of Pleiades.

Detail from a coin sold at auction in September 2010
(Celtic Northeast Britain, ca. 50 b.c.- 50 a.d.)

The Pleiades (Greek: 'The Doves') - Ani'tsutsa (Cherokee: 'The Boys')

In early October the Pleiades star cluster can be seen rising in the eastern sky at 9 p.m. The open cluster of stars, one of the gems of the night heavens visible to unaided vision, is small and faint but vividly present. Modern astronomers know the star cluster by its Greek name, Pleiades - meaning "Doves". It is one of the oldest recognized star groups (a.k.a. - asterism) in the northern sky, playing roles in the ancient astronomies of the northern hemisphere continents of Afro-Eurasia and the Americas. (It would not be visible from the southern hemisphere latitudes.)

I will give both the Cherokee story told to James Mooney (Smithsonian Report) and the Greek story summarized by J.M. Edmonds (Loeb Classical Library) as representative of the type of drama that is woven around this star group.

According to the Cherokee ('19th Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution' 1897-98, p.258):

"Long ago, when the world was new, there were seven boys who used to spend all their time down by the townhouse playing the gatayu'sti game, rolling a stone wheel along the ground and sliding a curved stick after it to strike it. Their mothers scolded, but it did no good, so one day they collected some gatayu'sti stones and boiled them in the pot with the corn for dinner. When the boys came home hungry their mothers dipped out the stones and said, 'Since you like the gatayu'sti better than the cornfield, take the stones now for your dinner.'

The boys were very angry, and went down to the townhouse, saying, 'As our mothers treat us this way, let us go where we shall never trouble them any more.' They began a dance -- some say it was the Feather dance -- and went round and round the townhouse, praying to the spirits to help them. At last their mothers were afraid something was wrong and went out to look for them. They saw the boys still dancing around the townhouse, and as they watched they noticed that their feet were off the earth, and that with every round they rose higher and higher in the air. They ran to get their children, but it was too late, for they were already above the roof of the townhouse -- all but one, whose mother managed to pull him down with the gatayu'sti pole, but he struck the ground with such force that he sank into it and the earth closed over him.

The other six circled higher and higher until they went up to the sky, where we see them now as the Pleiades, which the Cherokee still call Ani'tsutsa (The Boys). The people grieved long after them, but the mother whose boy had gone into the ground came every morning and every evening to cry over the spot until the earth was damp with her tears. At last a little green shoot sprouted up and grew day by day until it became the tall tree that we call now the pine, and the pine is of the same nature as the stars and holds in itself the same bright light."

For the ancient Greek version, I will give only the very short summary description in J.M. Edmonds note in the index of 'Lyra Graeca III' p.713, Loeb Classical Library.

"Pleiades: daughters of Atlas and companions of Artemis; pursued by Orion in Boeotia they were saved by being turned into doves and placed among the stars."

It is from the Greek version that the English name 'The Seven Sisters' is derived.

Background Information about Judaculla Rock.

I. Dating the creation of Judaculla Rock.

A. The James Mooney reports to J. W. Powell and Smithsonian - (1888) Cherokee Mythology and the Cherokee in Ohio (linguistic derivative of Iroquois).

Mooney: 'Dialects - Related Tribes' p.17. "The Iroquoian stock, to which the Cherokee belong, had its chief home in the north, its tribes occupying a compact territory which comprised portions of Ontario, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and extended down the Susquehanna and Chesapeake bay almost to the latitude of Washington...The Cherokee themselves constituted the third and southernmost body...traditional and historic evidence concur in assigning to the Cherokee as their early home the region about the headwaters of the Ohio, immediately to the southward of their kinsmen, but bitter enemies, the Iroquois."

Mooney: 'Myths of the Cherokee' pp. 264-5, first published 1900

Jutaculla Old Fields: A bald spot of perhaps a hundred acres on the Slope of Tennessee bald (Tsul'kalu' Tsunegun'yi), at the extreme head of Tuckasegee river, in Jackson county, on the ridge from which the lines of Haywood, Jackson, and Transylvania counties diverge. The giant Tsul'kalu'. or Jutaculla, as the name is corrupted by the whites, had his residence in the mountain (see story), and according to local legend among the whites, said to be derived from the Indians, this bald spot was a clearing which he made for a farm. Some distance farther to the west, on the north bank of Cany fork, about 1 mile above Moses creek and perhaps 10 miles above Webster, in the same county, is the Jutaculla rock, a large soapstone slab covered with rude carvings, which according to the same tradition, are scratches made by the giant in jumping from his farm on the mountain to the creek below.

B. The 1993 excavation of the site ( website - soapstone quarry predating the use of pottery ca. 500 b.c. or earlier; and the site was abandoned rather than exhausted.)

   The link to website about Judaculla Rock.

II. Asterisms and asterism reversal - their mirror image. The prevalent use of The Dipper (a.k.a. The Plough, The Ox Cart, The Wain) and the prominent 'W' of Cassiopeia. The importance of astronomy and sun worship in various cultures from the Bronze Age through the 13th century. The Pleiades (in its various names) as a marker of autumn and spring.


    A. Megalithic stone constructions in Britain and Scotland

  • 1. "Circles of Stone: The Prehistoric Rings of Britain & Ireland," Max Milligan (photography) and Aubrey Burl (text), 1999, The Haverill Press, London.

  • 2. "Great Stone Circles: Fables, Fictions, Facts," Aubrey Burl, 1999, Yale University Press.

    B. Astronomy

  • 1. "A History of Astronomy from Thales to Kepler," J.L.E. Dreyer, 1906. Dover (1953), New York.

  • 2. "Prehistoric Astronomy of the Southwest," J. McKim Malville and Claudia Putnam, 1993, Johnson Books: Boulder.

  • 3. "Cambridge Pocket Star Atlas," John Cox, 1996, Cambridge University Press.

    C. Egypt and Celts
  • 1. "Herodotus, Books I-II," A.D. Godley, bilingual Greek/English, Loeb Classical Library, 1926, Harvard University Press

  • 2. "Caesar: The Gallic War", Books III and V," H.J. Edwards, bilingual Greek/English, Loeb Classical Library, 1917, reprinted 2006, Harvard University Press

  • 3. "Greek-English Lexicon," Liddell & Scott, 1871 (1991), Oxford University Press, London.

  • 4. "The Vikings," Robert Ferguson, 2010, Penguin, New York.

  • 5. "The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire," Edward N. Luttwak, 2009, Harvard University Press.

  • 6. "Archaic Sculpturings of Cups, Circles, &c.," Sir J.Y. Simpson, 1867, Edinburgh.

   Copyright © graphics
and text by Craig Welch, 2010.
   All rights reserved.


Tennessee marble sculpture for The University of Denver Law School, 1984.

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This page was last edited on December 12, 2010.