The Landscape of Klamath Basin Rock Art

Author(s): Robert David

Year: 2015


For the past three decades, efforts to interpret Klamath Basin rock art symbols using ethnographic literature and concepts of sacred landscapes have advanced our understanding of the art. This approach, however, is limited by the assumption that the rock art symbols meant the same thing in every social and land use context. From my research of the past decade I have inferred that rock art designs are not distributed randomly across the landscape. Instead, rock art displays appear to vary predicatively across three archaeologically-defined contexts that I have identified as settlement sites, frequently used areas and special use areas. In the research presented here, I use this apparent pattern to propose a context model for the rock art of the Klamath Basin and suggest that Klamath Basin shamans situated their varied repertoire of sacred symbols within these distinctive contexts in order to structure the way people encountered and experienced them. Understanding how rock art is patterned on the landscape has led to refined interpretations in an area where relatively little rock art research has been done.

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Cite this Record

The Landscape of Klamath Basin Rock Art. Robert David. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395090)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -122.168; min lat: 42.131 ; max long: -113.028; max lat: 49.383 ;