Rock Art Resonance: preliminary results of an experimental acoustic study

Part of the Rock Art Resonance (DRAFT) project

Author(s): Chester Liwosz

Year: 2015


Pecked petroglyphs of a prehistoric Mojave Desert slot canyon hint at experience crafting processes in rock image production. The unique qualities here not shared by other area petroglyph sites support the need to consider archaeological and geographic context of these sites as a critical variable, rather than an assumed constant. With narrow passages, dry falls, and towering vertical walls, the slot's metamorphosed limestone substrate yields the potential for sound characteristics not found at many other petroglyph sites in the region. A summer 2014 expedition undertook experimentation with percussive sounds in the highest density concentrations of rock art within the slot. This research aims to identify novel acoustic properties brought about by both the unique landform and curious continuity of the use of a pecking strategy in image production. Weathering suggests continuity in pecked engraving technique over a substantial time depth – likely spanning through both the Numic and part of the Archaic Periods. This study adds depth to the range of variables to consider relevant in recording rock art sites. More broadly, it demonstrates the capacity of experimental archaeology to push the limits of interpretation by expanding the range of inferences which can be reasonably drawn from even faint traces.

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

Rock Art Resonance: preliminary results of an experimental acoustic study. Chester Liwosz. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397993)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Spatial Coverage

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