Rock Art Research: A Regional Analysis

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

Rock art research in the Americas has a long history. Thousands of rock art sites have been discovered and formally recorded and within these sites are countless images. The purpose of this symposium is to place rock art within a geographic and cultural framework. Various kinds or related information my be employed to help differentiate the rock art of one region from another, including rock art character and structure, comparative and historic linguistics, ethnography, ethno-history, population genetics, prehistoric cultural materials, and traditional knowledge. A combination of such data sets may be used to posit ethnic identities, population movements and cultural patterns. Through such efforts, these studies can illuminate meaning and function that captures salient cognitive and ideological elements of Native cultures and furthers rock art research.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-16 of 16)

  • Documents (16)

  • Ancestral Abstract Art of the Mojave Desert (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ruth Musser-Lopez.

    The "archaic" abstract rock art style in the midst of the revered, fiercely defended cultural sanctuary of the Yuman-Hokan speaking tribes in the Mohave Valley along the lower Colorado River links culture with style, particularly when considering the absence of styles associated with linguistic family branches later expanding into surrounding areas. Further, that an archaic abstract style regionally associated with historic period Hokan speakers is also found throughout the Mojave Desert,...

  • Animal symbolism in the rock art of the Sonoran Desert (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Julio Amador.

    Abstract In this paper we propose a line of interpretation referred to the symbolism attributed to the zoomorphic figures, present in the rock art of the Sonoran Desert. We confront the results of rock art analysis and classification with a systematic study of the myths and legends of the Uto-aztecan cultural groups that lived in the region, when Europeans arrived. We pay special attention to the traditions of the O’odham, who inhabited the Sonoran Desert where we can find the rock art that...

  • Beyond Boundaries: A Discussion of "out-of'place" Yokuts and Chumash Motifs (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Mary Gorden. Devlin Gandy.

    Rock art research by Grant (1965) and Heizer and Clewlow (1973) revealed the prolific number of painted images that Chumash and Yokuts cultures produced in South Central California. Previous research (ibid; Lee 1991; Grant 1979) often focused on defining distinctive stylistic components and elements that characterize and differentiate these respective traditions, and define their cultural boundaries. Borderland rock art sites such as Carneros Rocks and Painted Rock have become continued points...

  • Beyond the Solstice (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Elanie Moore.

    The Great Murals of Sierra de San Francisco, Baja California, Mexico, have been the subject of in-depth study (Guttierez 2013; Hyland 1997; Rubio 2013; religiVinas 2013). The latter include recordation of major sites and reconstruction of age, cultural affiliation, and hypotheses as to meaning and function. Growing evidence supports that these sites display light patterns correlating with winter / summer solstice timings. Arguments have been presented that light manifestations exhibit...

  • Exploring Nevada rock art as a social landscape (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Angus Quinlan.

    Approximately 1,500 rock art sites that broadly span the Archaic have been identified in Nevada. Regional and temporal differences in site structure, rock art styles, landscape settings, and associated archaeological contexts are discernible in these data, offering insights into Great Basin culture history and the categorization of the environment as a social landscape by prehistoric populations. Traditional approaches to Nevada rock art have often emphasized interpretation at the expense of...

  • From Borinquen to Barbados: A Caribbean Cave Art Ritual Complex (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Reinaldo Morales.

    Caribbean archaeology has provided us with evidence of a cultural mosaic that united diverse ecologies, ideologies and identities in sophisticated networks of art and ritual. Caves and cave art were fundamental to these networks. This paper outlines a complex of cave-related ritual activity across the Antilles, supported by art-historical, archaeological and ethnohistoric evidence. This proposed "Cave Art Ritual Complex" may turn out to have far-reaching implications for issues of cultural...

  • Huichol Symbolism and the Interpretation of Rock Art in the Western Sierra of Jalisco Mexico (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Joseph Mountjoy.

    The Huichol are not known to have inhabited the western sierra of Jalisco in historic times. However, it has been possible to use Huichol symbolism to interpret rock art at several locations in this region. This was first done with the large pictograph panel at La Peña Pintada in the Tomatlan river valley, indicating the use of the sun’s position on the eastern horizon as a dry season/wet season calendar and individual pictographs depicting plants and animals important for native subsistence. ...

  • Lesser Antillean Rock Art of the Caribbean: A Regional Perspective (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Michele Hayward. Frank Schieppati. Michael Cinquino.

    Dubelar's 1995 compendium of rock art sites including sketches and photographs of the petroglyphs from the Lesser Antilles remains a critical resource for the study of the region's prehistoric images. The work has been supplemented in recent years with additional documentation efforts of known and newly discovered sites. The focus of this paper is on the characterization of Lesser Antillean rock art by detailing site and image distributional patterns across the arc of various islands. The Hofman...

  • Managing Meaning: Mitigation, Monitoring, and Mentoring at a Rock Art Site in the Uinta Basin, Utah (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Sarah Baer.

    In 2014, SWCA, in collaboration with Crescent Point Energy U.S. Corp and Sunrise Engineering, completed detailed analysis, laser 3D scanning, mapping, monitoring, and dust mitigation of a rock art site in the Uinta Basin, Utah. Detailed analysis of the rock art figures—characteristic of the Archaic, Fremont, Ute, and Historic periods—gives us insight into possible movement of peoples between the Tavaputs Plateau and Uinta Basin. Importantly, the interest in the project lies not only with...

  • Mystery and Ideology in the Rock Art of Missouri (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Michael Fuller.

    Working hypotheses link selected rock art sites in Missouri with the religious and political ideologies of the Mississippian tradition. For example, petroglyph sites such as the Bushnell Ceremonial Cave (23SG89), Washington State Park (23WA01), Madden Creek (23WA26), and the Commerce Site (23ST255) have been linked with the Mississippian tradition. Likewise, a cluster of three pictograph sites preserve Mississippian iconography: Rattlesnake Bluff (23FR95), Willenberg Shelter (23FR96), and the...

  • Pictograph Handprint Analysis in Southern California--Stature and Gender Projections (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Steve Freers.

    Pictograph hand impressions (n=288) from 42 rock art loci in southern California were analyzed to infer the physical stature and gender of the most likely Native American participants against contemporary assertions of regional rock art style and function. The analytical underpinnings were as follows: anthropometric data of Mission Indians (Boas 1895); ethnographic accounts of young adolescent female participation (e.g., Oxendine 1980:39) and the statistical difference in female adult stature...

  • Religious Symbolism In Eastern California Ghost Dance Rock Paintings (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Alan Garfinkel Gold. Geron Marcom. Don Austin.

    There exists multi-colored, historic Native American rock paintings found throughout eastern California. In a minimum of 21 locations, Native, indigenous, polychromatic rock paintings have been documented that apparently date to a time period between 1870 and 1900 (Schiffman et al. 1983; Garfinkel 1978, 1982, 2005, 2007). These rock painting sites exhibit subject matter that may relate to revitalistic religious movements popular during this short 30 year time frame. Such paintings have been...

  • Revisiting the Stylistic Similarities of Utah's Barrier Canyon and Texas' Pecos River Murals (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Tim Riley.

    Polly Schaafsma was among the first to recognize the many stylistic elements shared between Utah's Barrier Canyon rock art and the Pecos River style along the Lower Pecos Canyonlands in Texas. While the Barrier Canyon murals are markedly simpler in execution, common elements include anthropomorph shape and torso decoration, composed sets of zoomorphs, and the depiction of wild plants. During this initial study, Schaafsma (1971) defined the Barrier Canyon style based on nineteen sites located in...

  • The Rock Art of Valley of Fire, Clark County, Nevada (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kevin Rafferty.

    Valley of Fire is one of the gems of Nevada archaeology known as an area rich in archaeological resources. Yet little work had been undertaken in the area. Since 2003 the College of Southern Nevada (CSN) has conducted five survey field schools in Valley of Fire designed to teach students survey and site recording. The results so far demonstrate that Valley of Fire is an area rich in rock art and other cultural resources, with new rock art sites being recorded and data from earlier recorded...

  • Using Rock Art to Infer the Migration of Peoples (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jon Harman.

    The Great Mural rock art region of Baja California is unique in several ways. The content and style of the art is severely constrained and well differentiated from other nearby rock art styles. Within the Great Mural region there is some variation over time and space. This variation combined with the overall conservative nature of the art allows for inferences about the movement of people making the art. There are stylistic elements of Great Mural panels in the Sierra de San Borja that indicate...

  • Western Message Petroglyphs: Esoterica in the Wild West (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Leigh Marymor. Amy Marymor.

    A particularly enigmatic form of rock art referred to as "Western Message Petroglyphs" has been identified at thirty locations in the American West scattered between no fewer than eight western states. Relying on standard rock art research approaches, this body of work is assigned to the historic mining boom years of the mid to late nineteenth century based on geographic distribution, symbol typology, and style analysis. A significant number of the sites are associated with the Mormon Trail and...