Following the Signs: Tracking Geometric Rock Art across the Landscape of Upper Paleolithic Europe

Author(s): Genevieve Von Petzinger

Year: 2015


Geometric signs are found at nearly all Upper Paleolithic rock art sites in Europe. Created between 10,000 and 40,000 BP, the signs are one of the major thematic categories of art from this era, however, they are often not as well-documented as their figurative counterparts. While there are some sites (e.g., Grotte Chauvet) where detailed inventories have been created for all of the imagery, there are many other sites where this has yet to be carried out. The geometric signs have the potential to offer new insights into the development of symbolic thinking and the beginnings of graphic communication during this time period, but more accurate data is required before any large-scale studies can be successfully undertaken. The goal of the project discussed in this paper was to begin rectifying this lack of data by doing on-site inventorying and visual documentation at fifty-two sites in France, Spain, Portugal and Italy over the course of two field seasons. These sites were selected specifically because of the limited information currently available about the non-figurative imagery present. This paper will present the results of this study and will discuss some of the challenges faced when completing a project of this size and scope.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

Following the Signs: Tracking Geometric Rock Art across the Landscape of Upper Paleolithic Europe. Genevieve Von Petzinger. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395170)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;