The Great Comet of 1264 AD in Rock Art – Two Views from North America

Almost all prehistoric rock art in North America can be relatively dated by style, motif, scientific methods (e.g. Carbon dating of organic pigments used in pictographs), oral traditions or, in other cases, the archaeological process. Absolute dates, however, are rare to non-existent. This dilemma tentatively changed with the discovery of a comet pictograph in New Mexico and subsequent investigation led by a team from the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Their determination was that the pictograph firmly depicted the Great Comet of 1264 AD. It remained a sole rarity until almost a decade later when serendipity played a role while attending the 2022 Eastern States Rock Art and Research Association conference in St. Louis. During an afternoon presentation, it was learned that, in Pennsylvania, there is a petroglyph of what is unambiguously a comet pecked into a boulder resting midstream of the nearly mile-wide Lower Susquehanna River. Almost more remarkable is that this image may well represent the same comet, i.e. The Great Comet of 1264 AD. Furthermore, because the comet nucleus is depicted near or in conjunction with a waning crescent moon at both sites, the event depicted in the rock art images by two eye witnesses, though separated by 1700 miles, can be dated to the early to late morning of August 17, 1264 AD.