This is one of a planned series on the analysis and interpretation of various symbols from the field.
As important as answers or ideas about what IS a treasure symbol and what it might mean is to recognize the VERY many things that are NOT treasure symbols.
While this end of this article delves into possible native American influences to the crafting of the meaning of some treasure symbols, it is a constant disappointment to the author when he finds defaced Native petroglyphs in the field. Folks, 99.99%+ of petroglyphs you’ll find have nothing to do with hidden treasure, and you should not be destroying petroglyphs anyways – that’s just arrogant and greedy.
So, let’s take a look at a few classics: the “X” and the Cross. In this case, the Cross could be a symmetric one, and really could just be viewed as the X rotated by 45 degrees. Here’s a petroglyph from southern New Mexico, along an area of ancient travel with probably the highest concentration of literal big Dolmen-style trail markers the author has seen anywhere:
The Cross-X glyph in the image is on a big rock at a natural crossroads with a lot of other obviously much more modern markings, including the “B” in the image as well as a bunch of cowboy petroglyphs of variations on the local ranch’s cattle brand. According to a number of resources that all have a substantial codex of treasure symbols, the summary of possible straightforward meanings is:
In addition to the interpretations from Mahan and Kenworthy, it is notable that Spanish Eight Reales Silver coins feature a prominent equilateral Cross – so it’s not a huge logical stretch to think that an equilateral cross could be common shorthand for large-denomination currency. So, an equilateral cross may mean Silver (coins) or Church treasures if that’s how you want to view it. Of note is that there are several equilateral crosses and X’s on the supposed Doc Noss treausre map that’s included on the inside book jacket of the Gold House series of books by John Clarence.
Also interesting is the commonality of the interpretation of treasure symbols among available resources. Where and when is the origin of these symbols? Of the four resources consulted for this article, the following three have almost identical content, or share at least one main section with almost identical content:
- Coronado’s Children, by J. Frank Dobie, 1930
- Thunder God’s Gold, by Barry Storm, 1945
- Treasure Signs, Symbols, Shadows, and Sun Signs by Charles Kenworthy 1991
While a third is more unique in regard to it’s overall content (Kenworthy’s explanations and themology seem the most imaginative, however):
There is some overlap with the above symbols with the “windlass” symbol and with general trail markings other than the “in line with…” type, as well.
When the Spaniards first started stomping around in the new world, some of the earliest hauls came from South America. A book by Harold T. Wilkins, Mysteries of Ancient South America, delves into the commonality of glyphs found in South America and those located in many other ancient civilizations around the world. Whether the Spanish picked up some of the symbology and decided to use it for treasure-related markings later is possible, or perhaps Mr. Wilkin’s work was just tapping into and illuminating some ur-forms that happen to pop up over and over again. In any event, here are few consistencies from that work to provide fodder for some additional discussion later:
Here, Wilkins notes that the regular asymmetric cross may have some farther connection with the number 4 or the letter k. He also gives some very specific meaning to some common-themed native American glyph forms. The crows-foot, hunched-back figure, and eye or sun forms are common symbological elements, and studying their supposed ancient form may eventually lead to deeper insight into their culturally cross-cutting or adopted (in the context of treasure and trails) meanings.