Ballard Flat Man Petroglyph's Debated

Wilfred Havenshat – FP

Last evening Seattle Liberal University of Technology hosted a symposium on The Art of the Ancients. The presentation of research on the recently discovered “Flat Man” petroglyph’s in Ballard by the esteemed Professor Givwit Azwell was among the topics scheduled. The presentation was highly anticipated as these figures have been hotly debated in the halls of academia as well as in the press. In attendance were Professors Mortimer Steinke and Hugh Pugh of the Washington Institute of Technology’s College of Design. Both have been vocal critics of Professor Azwell’s public statements regarding the discoveries. Though many have dismissed these criticisms as part of the long and bitter rivalry between the two institutions. Some have argued this debate will finally launch one of the universities into preeminence.

Professor Azwell began his presentation by describing the Magnolians. That tribe of people who were known to have left, or been exiled as some believe, early in the history of the Occidentilia civilization. The Magnolians were known to be a highly creative and innovative tribe. Their raucous gatherings and lavish rituals were widely viewed as disruptive in the rigidly ordered Occidentilian society. Previous research and findings have indicated that the Magnolians likely settled in Ballard. Professor Azwell hypothesized that upon their arrival in Ballardland they staged one of their famed theatrical performances which so frightened the staid Ballardites that the natives fled in fear. The easily angered Ballardites soon returned to wage war and reclaim their rich fishing grounds. Professor Azwell further hypothesized that the Magnolians, being creative types, were ineffective warriors and were quickly annihilated. Hence the scant evidence of their existence found today.

Then, with flourish, Professor Azwell triggered a remote, the lights dimmed and an image appeared on the large screen behind the podium. “We call this petroglyph Ordinary Man”Ordinary Man announced the professor. “He represents the common Magnolian. Haggard, battered, unkempt, soiled clothing yet with a purposeful stride. Typical of creative peoples. All of the glyphs were found…” At this point a loud snort was heard to emanate from Professor Steinke. “…along the waterfront walkway. Beginning just west of the locks. As you may know this was formerly the site of a waterfall where migrating fish were easily trapped.”

“Professor perhaps you can explain just how it is you ‘discovered’ these glyphs that we all have been walking past since our childhoods, hmm?” intoned Professor Pugh. With a glare in his direction Professor Azwell triggered his remote. “Here we have Running Man”Running Man - 1 continued Professor Azwell. “As you see his clothing flapping as a representation of movement. Note the midriff area, the shoulder, the buttocks, the trailing edges of the legs. His hair has fallen over his facial area. You ask where is he running?” With a trigger of the remote the next image appeared.Running Man - 2 “Previous findings have shown that we built NW 54th St atop an ancient animal trail. Since it is known that the Magnolians were not competent hunters we believe the depicted man was attempting to emulate the animals. To run with the herd. To become one with them in order to enhance his spiritual and artistic abilities.” A guttural chuckle escaped Professor Steinke as he bowed his head and pinched the bridge of his nose.

“Next” with a triggering of the remote “I give you Circle Fish Man.Circle Fish Man - 1 We believe him to be a shaman. You can see a fish within a circle decorating his left thigh. His clothing is beaded and a patchwork of colors. A faint bootprint can be seen on his belt. All things that indicate he is one who deals in the mystical.”

“I’ll say!” guffawed Professor Steinke who was then resoundly Shhh’sed by several in the crowd.

Triggering the remote Professor Azwell continued “As you can see here his status is further indicated by these arrows.Circle Fish Man - 2 The two pointing upward, towards heaven are in near pristine condition. The one pointing down has had its tip shattered off. All of which encourage the viewer to pursue the higher path, the moral path, the path to enlightenment.”

“Can it be said that the path to the left there is the path to endarkenment?” interjected Professor Pugh. “If so, then why is this shaman striding towards that path, hmm?”

“Good question Dr. Pugh. That is something we will definitely have to explore” responded Professor Azwell. “Next we have Obese Man.Obese Man Clearly he is more portly than the others. The conflicting directional arrows, we believe, shows his indecision, hence his poor corporeal condition. This glyph was likely intended as an instructional glyph. Reminding citizens to be steadfast in their journey.”

“Here we have Word Man.Word Man We understand little of this glyph.” Professor Steinke was clearly heard to murmur “I’ll say” at this juncture. “The text is quite faded and as none of the Magnolian written language survives we’ve not been able to interpret the letter forms.”

“We call call this next glyph Whoa! Man Man)!: as it is clearly unbalanced. A few among us have argued that this may actually be a representation of a female. Note the wisp of flailing hair, the faint indication of a handbag under the right arm (to the left in the photo), and the abstract representation of genitalia.”

“That’s it!” burst out Professor Steinke. “I’ve had enough of this crap. These are common traffic insignia, for God’s sake. I jog that path everyday! There’s nothing interesting nor ancient about these ‘glyphs.’ Perhaps you find the ineptitude of our city street maintenance crews amusing, but I do not. Clearly, these are simply the result of poorly trained people using worn out tools and substandard paints and materials. Nothing more!” Much shouting and a bit of shoving broke out at this point with Professor Steinke storming out of the hall with much indignation.

Professor Azwell then attempted to regain order by saying “Settle down please. These next two glyphs represent the most convincing evidence of my thesis. Here we have Mobile ManMobile Man - 1 mounted on some sort of unknown wheeled vehicle. Note the plethora of embellishments on this glyph. The indentations on the wheels. Perhaps depictions of the hazards of ones life journey or the difficulties of pursuing ones vocation. Notice the various wounds. Here, I have a closer detailed view.” Triggers the remote.Mobile Man - 2 “See the various fractures? Here at the base of the spine and coccyx. Along the spine. At the collar and wrists. And of course the facial and scalp scarring. All depictions of the travails of pursuing the creative life.”

“Are you mad!! That’s a bicycle! That’s the Burke Gilman Trail. Doesn’t it pass through your campus? Right behind your office in fact!? Who’s funded this ‘research’ of yours!? Are my taxes paying for this!?” shouted Professor Pugh with purpled face and spittle a fly.

“Oh! And that from a man who wrote a dissertation on the utility of striations on paperclips!” retorted a young man. The hall erupted and alternately collapsed in waves of shouting, paper throwing, shoving and a few feeble outbursts of fisticuffs within the crowd of academics. Several campus police swarmed in and were quickly overwhelmed by the vehemence of the crowd. Yet there stood Professor Azwell at his podium. Triggering his remote.

“But … but … there’s Warrior Man. Evidence of the fecklessness of the Magnolians ability to defend themselves. See the low riding pants that inhibit movement. The ineffectual and oversized cudgel in his left hand. The thin helmet. The gloppy, pliable armour. The …”

Warrior Man - 1 Warrior Man - 2

There was nothing more for me than to depart and report to you, dear reader, so that you may form your own opinion. I can state only, factually, that these ‘glyphs’ do exist at the stated location. Go see and decide for yourselves.

Ballard Flat Man Petroglyph's Debated


Seattle, United States

  • Artist
  • Artwork Comments 10

Artist's Description

Images are clickable for a larger view.

A wee bit of fun with poorly applied street signage. Posted to celebrate a dear friend’s attainment of a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology.



Artwork Comments

  • Zolton
  • Honario
  • dedmanshootn
  • Honario
  • Gramia97
  • Honario
  • abigcat
  • Honario
  • abigcat
  • Honario
desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait
desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

10% off

for joining the Redbubble mailing list

Receive exclusive deals and awesome artist news and content right to your inbox. Free for your convenience.