Rock Art as Ritual Communicator: A Theoretical Evaluation

Author(s): Mary Brown

Year: 2017


Archaeologists typically dissect rock art stylistically, symbolically, and chronologically. Symbols, in particular, lead to studies of representational imagery, entoptic phenomena, or religious icons. What remains underexplored is the concept of animism and its related behavioral activities. This paper applies a behavioral theory of communication to study the interactions between people and things. It uses performance characteristics analysis to determine the activities associated with attributes of rock art’s natural and cultural context, manufacture traces, use wear, and maintenance. The analysis is illustrated through a case study of rock art surrounding the 14th century Cottonwood Springs Pueblo (LA 175), in the Jornada Mogollon of southwest New Mexico. This pilot study evaluates the potential for using a communication model to interpret rock art and similar media, such as ceramic design elements, textile imagery, and wall murals.

Cite this Record

Rock Art as Ritual Communicator: A Theoretical Evaluation. Mary Brown. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429192)


animism Ritual Rock Art

Geographic Keywords
North America - Southwest

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14663