Exploring Nevada rock art as a social landscape

Author(s): Angus Quinlan

Year: 2015


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 explanation, seeking rock art’s cultural significance or "meaning" in subjective considerations of its imagery. As Nevada rock art marks only a small percentage of the landscapes prehistoric populations are known to have used, I argue that understanding what made these locations appropriate places to be marked by rock art is a research theme that can address mainstream archaeological interests in describing the structure of past landscape use. Relating Nevada’s rock art to the physical environment and settlement patterns provides information about the structure and properties of special places in the landscape, and illustrates that the use of culturally significant places was a consideration in residential mobility strategies.

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Cite this Record

Exploring Nevada rock art as a social landscape. Angus Quinlan. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395810)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -122.761; min lat: 29.917 ; max long: -109.27; max lat: 42.553 ;