Can We See Travelers in Rock Art?

Author(s): Katharine Fernstrom

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "The Role of Rock Art in Cultural Understanding: A Symposium in Honor of Polly Schaafsma" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Polly Schaafsma’s extraordinary body of rock art publications allows us to return repeatedly to the images to ask different questions as our knowledge expands. Rock art informs my studies of pre-European Native American murals and 3-dimensional human figures because murals are compositions on surfaces that validate culturally defined places. Rock art presents diverse anthropomorphic figures that overlap and broaden the range of visual presentations in other media for example shell, copper, earth, and ceramic. Portable objects can travel hand to hand with minimal human travel. Rock art murals are fixed on the landscape and require that people travel to them; and we know that pre-European people traveled. The Hopi and Aztec migration stories are classics; the Nebraska Osage self-identify as descendants of Ohio Hopewell; and Siouan speakers are in the Southeast and Great Plains. However, we rarely discuss travel evidence in the archaeological record. I propose that it is worthwhile to hypothesize that images in rock art include associations with travelers, and may therefore also relate to conceptual uses of the landscape associated with exploration and shared knowledge of "place".

Cite this Record

Can We See Travelers in Rock Art?. Katharine Fernstrom. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450461)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -168.574; min lat: 7.014 ; max long: -54.844; max lat: 74.683 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 23630