Atlantic crossing: side views on the rock art

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

Rock art studies have followed different paths in America (or for the matter, other world regions) and Europe, the reason lying in the very constitution of the discipline for in the latter prehistoric art was an integral –and, at times, controversial– part of the discovery of the fossil man and the approach to this artistic phenomenon was tinged with questions about chronology and sequence so cherished to the Culture-historical archaeology that dominated Europe for a long time. In areas such as North America, prehistoric art does not seem to have played such a conspicuous rôle in the academic development of archaeology and, on the other hand, the very persistence of native peoples favored a more anthropology-informed approach to the rock-art studies, allowing for a closer attention to issues such as the signification of the carved and painted images.The aim of this session is to bring together a series of papers dealing with different conceptions about the analysis of rock art conducted by researchers from different parts of the world, in order to reflect on how the different research traditions can inform the approach to this kind of archaeological manifestations.

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  • Documents (8)

  • Approaches to Scandinavian rock-art (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Peter Skoglund.

    The aim of this paper is to discuss and evaluate some general trends in Scandinavian rock-art research. For a larger part of the 20th century scholars from the history of religion had a strong impact on the interpretation of south Scandinavian rock-art. Images were contextualized by a comparative approach where scenes and details from rock-art were compared to similar phenomenon in other media. Today, this perspective is complemented by a variety of approaches; but a dominating perspective...

  • Carved footprints and prehistoric beliefs: examples of symbol and myth, practice and ideology. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ulf Bertilsson.

    Footprints are frequent on prehistoric petroglyphs. The author has studied its design, sprawl, dating and interpretation in archaeological research as a wider investigation of this theme. Case studies of significant rock art sites in Scandinavia, the Mediterranean and the Near East show that the footprint is a general phenomenon, occurring in all these areas during the time period c. 3000 BC - 500 BC. The footprints have been interpreted in different ways; as the epitome of an otherwise...

  • How values, prejudice, and social issues shape rock art research in North America. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Curtis Schaafsma. Polly Schaafsmsa.

    We present a brief history of rock art research in North America, identifying some of the social forces and schools of thought that have shaped these studies within and outside of the confines of traditional archaeology. Among relevant issues within academia are prevailing paradigms that aspire to specific goals and interests that orient archaeological research. Even when these interests and concerns would benefit from the analysais of prehistoric images made by the socio/cultural groups under...

  • Patterns through space: a spatial analysis of Murujuga rock art, Northwest Australia. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lucia Clayton Martinez.

    Spatial analysis is a methodology that has been widely used for researching rock art. It has had a wide-ranging focus, varying from informed methods (using ethnographic information), to formal, and experiential methods. Spatial analyses undertaken on Murujuga, the Burrup Peninsula in northwest Australia, have primarily focused on establishing chronologies, the clustering of rock art motifs at a broad landscape scale, and the relationship with resource foci. My research has focused on formal...


    El arte rupestre de la Prehistoria Reciente de la Península Ibérica ofrece un conjunto de datos de importante relevancia para estudiar el aparato simbólico de las sociedades complejas y sus implicaciones territoriales. Su amplia distribución también ofrece la oportunidad de discutir sobre la ocupación del territorio desde la perspectiva de la Arqueología del Paisaje. El espacio se convierte en un eje estructural en el que también es posible plantear las alternativas socio-económicas de las...

  • Sacred vs Secular: Pre-Hispanic Village Landscapes in Southwest New Mexico (2015)
    DOCUMENT Full-Text Steve Swanson. Andrew Vorsanger.

    In the pre-Hispanic Southwest, it is well known that certain places on the regional landscape were considered sacred or ritually charged, such as summits, springs, and caves. Less understood is the way that sacred and secular spaces were partitioned within prehistoric villages. In this paper we examine the relationship among secular and sacred spaces during the PIII/PIV periods at two villages along the Rio Grande. Each village includes roomblocks, agricultural features, resource processing...

  • War related social and ritual traits in Rock Art (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Johan Ling.

    War related social and ritual traits are common features in European Bronze Age rock art and native North American rock art. There are some general similarities in the material that needs to be stressed between the North American images and those from Bronze Age Europe, fighters depicted with spears and shields etc. This resemblance speaks of how far un-connected human groups may build similar imageries, given only a set of rather superficial social similarities in general terms. Moreover, the...

  • Watch out for rocks: a GIS and Agent-Based Modeling approach to the rock art of Northwestern Iberia (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Carlos Rodriguez-Rellan. Ramón Fábregas Valcarce.

    Geographic Information Systems and high-resolution cartography (LIDAR), together with Agent-Based Modeling, are used for assessing the traditional view of open-air rock art as an active element in the shaping of the prehistoric landscape. Petroglyphs have been usually thought to play a major role in the configuration of the different significations of the prehistoric landscapes, their location repeatedly analyzed in terms of spatial proximity with paths and resource-rich areas that would have...