Ancestral Abstract Art of the Mojave Desert

Author(s): Ruth Musser-Lopez

Year: 2015


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, strengthens the supposition supported by archaeological remains and linguistic evidence that Hokan speakers were more widely spread prehistorically. Examined is the regional archaeological evidence along with the physical occurrence of variations in rock art styles together suggesting that drying pluvial lakes and the abstract rock art were left behind during the Holocene climate optimum for wetter shores on the lower Colorado River, leaving a void in a tempered desert for Uto-Aztecans to fill.

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

Ancestral Abstract Art of the Mojave Desert. Ruth Musser-Lopez. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395802)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -125.464; min lat: 32.101 ; max long: -114.214; max lat: 42.033 ;