Believing is Seeing

Author(s): Dylan Clark

Year: 2015


Humans use an array of senses to experience the world, vision being how we primarily characterize most experiences. Color, contrast, and brilliance are all factors that are both consciously and unconsciously considered when visually interacting with the material world. These are not passive factors that are simply filed away by the brain, but active communicators that trigger responses in the mind of the viewer. This influence on human behavior has a direct impact on material culture. Since archaeological study seeks to make cultural inferences from material objects, consideration of these elements’ agency on a viewer makes it desirable to understand how visual attributes guide behavior. The area I will focus on is the American Southwest, which has a long history of ethnographic and archaeological study, allowing examination of the importance of color in Pueblo ritual behavior and material culture, both present and past. I will use artifact and architectural examples from the Mogollon and Anasazi regions as well as existing anthropological research to identify and analyze elements of visual perception and their relationship to past cultures and the archaeological record. Though this study focuses on the Southwest, the aim is to explore a workable methodology applicable to general archaeological research.

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Cite this Record

Believing is Seeing. Dylan Clark. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398077)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;