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Judaculla Rock, located in the mountains of western North Carolina, features some of North America’s oldest petroglyphs. Some estimates date the petroglyphs back 2,000-5,000 years. The rock was first discovered before the age of colonization by the Cherokee, who regarded it as sacred. The Cherokee believed the symbols on the rock were born from Judaculla, a slant-eyed giant mentioned in Cherokee folklore, who jumped from one mountain to the other and landed on the rock. The symbol was said to be an imprint of his seven-fingered hand. European settlers that came across the rock and the surrounding fields regarded the land with superstition. Needless to say, false rumors sprang up of mythical creatures that lived near Judaculla Rock, such as demons and a giant snake.


The origins of Judaculla Rock’s carvings are still unknown. The meanings of the hundreds of petroglyphs remain unknown as well. The rock contains at least ten figures, various circles, deer tracks, claws, arcs, and even a winged shape. The rock has three times as many petroglyphs as any other rock discovered east of the Mississippi River.