Mysterious, hidden ‘etchings’ in historical New Mexican building

New Mexico

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe is one of the oldest public buildings in the country. It’s gone through a lot of changes over the centuries, and even historians have trouble explaining some of the odd things they find inside.

“You are likely to find small surprises that are full of fun,” said Billy Garrett.

Garrett oversees the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe. The building dates back to 1610 and is used to show New Mexico’s history, although it’s closed right now.

The Palace is currently rehabilitating a lot of its rooms — trying to make them more modern while also preserving some of its historic character, including a few interesting items.

Etched in the four corners of the Puye room, there are hidden drawings in the walls. “They’re very subtle and if the lighting isn’t right, you don’t see them and you don’t notice them,” said Garrett.

They almost look like a person, a bird, another bird, and squares with a square. “I think we can best describe them as pictographs,” said Garrett.

But how the drawings got here, is a mystery. The walls were remodeled in 1913, but there are no records of the mysterious markings. Historians also don’t believe the drawings are the works of vandals.

“They look to me to have been incised in the plaster at the time the room was initially remodeled for the purpose of being an exhibit room,” said Garrett.

The drawing of the man even appears in a 1915 photograph of the room. “My guess is that they were just in the background and people just didn’t see them,” said Garrett.

Although the drawings are possibly from an unnamed artist over a century ago, they’re here to stay.

“Because these are the original walls to the 1913 period and these murals are a part of that, we’d definitely be wanting to protect those,” said Garrett.

Historians believe the drawings could be copies of native southwestern rock art.

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