Archive for North America

Serrated Edges in Rock Art

Certain rock art images prove to occur at numerous places in the world, like cupules and zigzags. In most cases this is a matter of parallel invention. However, a number of motifs may have travelled across the globe for short or even enormous distances. This study investigates the distribution of one of the enigmatic rock art features, the serrated edge and explores the possibility that this practice diffused from North America to South America (or vice versa).

By Maarten van Hoek

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The Three Rivers 3D Masks

In several cases rock art manufacturers were intrigued by natural rock features such as holes and cracks. This paper deals mainly with rock art images of masks that are folded across two rock panels creating 3D masks. In particular the Mogollon 3D masks of Three Rivers in New Mexico, USA, will be discussed. Also the puzzling anomaly regarding the distribution of Mogollon 3D masks and Rio Grande Style 3D masks will be dealt with. Finally, it will be attempted to offer an explanation for the enigmatic 3D masks (PDF available).

By Maarten van Hoek

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The Incomplete Versus The Unfinished

Only the manufacturer of a rock art image could reliably have informed us whether a rock art image is unfinished or whether it is incomplete. Unfortunately informed knowledge is often completely unavailable. Then only the image and its graphical and cultural context are available to possibly separate the unfinished from the incomplete. Additionally, the incomplete image may even include something invisible. To address these issues I will use the rich rock art repertoire of the Desert Andes, focussing mainly on Toro Muerto and Miculla, two enormous rock art sites in the south of Peru.

By Maarten van Hoek

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Calling Cards: a New Plains Rock Art Site Type

Calling Card rock art sites, drawn by war parties in enemy territory to taunt their adversaries by illustrating deeds executed against them, are a newly identified site type on the northern Plains of North America. One such site is Cheval Bonnet, a small petroglyph in Northern Montana. Containing coup counting and horse raiding narratives from the early 1800s, analysis of these images shows that most of the petroglyphs can be identified as Crow drawings, even though they are carved in the heart of Historic Blackfeet tribal territory. Once this site was identified as a calling card petroglyph, I was able to identify three others elsewhere on the northern Plains (PDF available).

by James D. KEYSER Read more

The Saluting Anthropomorph in the Rock Art of the Americas

Although in general complex biomorphic figures in rock art are not suitable to demonstrate diffusion, there is one idiosyncratic anthropomorphic figure the in rock art repertoire of the Americas, which, although it is very rare, has a remarkably wide distribution that might indicate long-distance diffusion. I have labelled this icon the Saluting Anthropomorph. See the UPDATE at the end of the paper.

 By Maarten van Hoek Read more

Long Distance Diffusion of Rock Art Motifs in the Americas

Rock art motifs are found in every inhabited continent. In most cases those motifs develop independently, but it is also certain that specific rock art motifs migrated from one area to another area, sometimes travelling for thousands of kilometres. This study investigates the possible long-distance diffusion of a number of abstract rock art motifs along the Pacific seaboard of the Americas.

 By Maarten van Hoek Read more

Indifferent Obliteration of Petroglyph Art

Petroglyphs are often found superimposed by other petroglyphs, but in some cases they have also been (partially) obliterated by hammering, rubbing or polishing of the rock’s surface. This short study investigates a number of cases in North and South America where petroglyphs may have (and in some cases definitely have) been obliterated by such grinding activities. This study therefore strongly recommend to accurately record instances where grinding activities took place, even when there are no petroglyphs visible.

By Maarten van Hoek

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Icons That Travel

0 logoThe Atacama Desert and the Andes in South America are crisscrossed by myriads of paths and tracks. Often those tracks are easily seen in Google Earth as broad bands. Also rock art images narrate of such travels. They mainly depict camelids guided by people. In rare instances however a specific kind of traveller has been depicted on the rocks. I have labelled it ‘The Enigmatic Traveller‘. In this study I describe the distribution of this icon, compare it with similar images and try to explain the meaning of the enigmatic position of the arms of this figure.

By Maarten van Hoek

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The Potash Sheep Shifters


Shay Canyon Bighorns

The Southwest of North America is known for its rich rock art in which the image of the Bighorn is one of the most important zoomorphic representations. This study investigates the many manifestations of the Bighorn in rock art. The focus is on idiosyncrasies and possible transformations of the image of this impressive animal. It proves that in this respect especially Site 3 on Potash Road near Moab, Utah, offers so many shape-shifted images that we can speak of the Potash Sheep Shifters.

by Maarten van Hoek

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The Case of Guelta Oukas, Morocco


Very recently several petroglyphs at the rock art site of Guelta Oukas in the Anti Atlas Mountains of southern Morocco were severely damaged. However, the mutilation was limited to two panels with mainly depictions of cattle and – moreover – to specific body parts of those zoomorphic images. In this paper I argue that this is not just another case of unwanted vandalism. Instead, I propose that the mutilation at Guelta Oukas could represent an instance of ‘negative’ rock art, involving the desecration of the images.

by Maarten van Hoek
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Rupestreweb, May-August 2013 new papers online



May-August 2013, twelve new papers on Rupestreweb, the most interesting online Mid and South-America rock art review; a rich overlook about: Brasil, Colombia, Cuba, Perú, República Dominicana. Petroglyphs, rock paintings, research, archaeology… want you go further?
Rupestreweb, Arte rupestre en América Latina.

by Rupestreweb

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Big Problems this Summer for American Rockart!


This summer is a nightmare for the preservation of rockart in the American Southwest and West. Damages being done by a variety of mining and non-mainstream “science” groups may go unstopped without your interest and assistance immediately!

by Deb Huglin

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Ancient Visions: the Tukudika People petroglyphs

Shoshone petroglyph

Trail Lake Ranch is pleased to anounce that Dr. Larry Loendorf will lead a week-long exploration into the rock art and culture of early Mountain Shoshone and Plains Indians.

by Jane Vander Weyden

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Preservation of Rock Art

Protect rock art

I have been studying rock art in the American West for over 10 years, concentrating my research on public sites, and how they have been “developed” for public visitation. I have drawn a number of conclusion about site selection, and procedures for preparing a site for public visitation.

by Ronald D. Sanders

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Urgent assist: petroglyphs

Albuquerque petroglyph

The mayor of Albuquerque, without proper public notice, approved the bulldozing and paving of a controversial road through our sacred petroglyphs. The petroglyphs are one of the few remaining sacred sites.

by Wendy and Clinton Thunderchief

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Utah Rock Art field School Summer 2000

Utah rock art

TRACCE no. 12 – by Jeffery R. Hanson

The University of Texas-Arlingtonis pleased to announce it’s 5th annual rock art field school in Dry Fork Canyon, Utah. Students participate in an intense archaeological and ethnographic experience, experiencing a Native American perspective through the eyes of Eastern Shoshone spiritual practitioners.

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Looking Back at Four Years of Advocacy

Low rail barrier

TRACCE no. 10 – by M. Leigh Marymor

Looking Back at Four Years of Advocacy for the Ring Mountain Petroglyphs – California (USA).
In the Fall of 1993, the Bay Area Rock Art Research Association (BARARA) began an effort to insure protections for the Ring Mountain petroglyphs in Tiburon (Marin County), California .
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The Trowel and the Drum

Dry Fork Canyon

TRACCE no. 10 – by Jeffery R. Hanson

The Trowel and the Drum: contrastive Approaches to Rock Art.
Located on the McKonkie Ranch in the Dry Fork Canyon near the town of Vernal, canyon walls contain some of the most spectacular examples of prehistoric petroglyphs…
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