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About Rock Art
The Arizona Archeological Society has a great program for learning how to assist archeological investigations. Ken and I attended the Rock Art Recording school this summer. The school is a week-long introduction into how to properly record rock art without damaging it. One of the important rules about Rock Art is that you never reveal the exact location to anyone else unless they are properly cleared for the data. So while I will have pictures on this web site of some of the art we looked at I will not tell you how to locate it.
Rock Art in the country is undergoing heavy vandalism. Many people think it's fun to shoot at rock panels for target practice. Others wish to deface the art because it shows scenes or actions which are distasteful to them. A few people even steal or cut away rock art and remove it for their own private collections or purposes. While these are the obvious ways rock art can be destroyed there are more insidious problems.
Even those who try to document and preserve rock art can quicken its destruction. In the past water, chalk and solvents were used to make rock art show up better for photography. Many delicate structures were lost in this way. Rubbings can cause problems no matter how carefully done. The simple act of walking near a rock art site can cause erosion and advertise the location making it easy for looters and vandals to find and destroy the site. All of these problems led the AAS to develop a program to train enthusiastic volunteers to properly document and record a site in a non-destructive way.
Class ScheduleClass consists of field work during the day and lectures at night. We learned how to properly map a site including placing it with accurate coordinates on a topo map. Individual boulders are numbered and each is documented with both color and black and white photography. Particularly interesting panels and hard to see glyphs are drawn using a string grid system. The data are gathered onto specialized forms and filed with the appropriate agency. While the techniques we learned are not a way to study a site for clues about the makers of the art or for a full scientific paper it is a good way to document the location and existance of rock art. In some cases the documentation done during a rock art school will be the only documentation of a panel made. Fires and human vandals have destroyed panels before a more careful study could be made of them. For this reason the school stressed doing the best work we could even though it was a training session.
Teams of students along with their team leaders fanned out in the area and were assigned specific sites to document. Each team member learned how to perform all the various recording tasks, from drawing maps to taking pictures to drawing the art itself. These sites were all new and had never before been documented. During the week long class many new sites were found. In this one area of Arizona there are hundreds of sites that need recording. Similar areas exist over much of the Southwest.
We had a great time in spite of being eaten alive by juniper gnats. I'd encourage everyone to consider taking a class like this and doing your part to preserve our nation's past.
Here are the pictures, enjoy.
Typical Rock Art Panel
This is what Oogie Looked like before being eaten by gnats.
Enjoying a Beer in my Gnat Resistant Suit
A boulder with a crack that has damaged one of the rock art elements.
What do you see? Guesses included footprints and a deer.
Another Unusual Element
Disc and Appendeged Circle
Another BoulderThere is other evidence of the people who made the rock art. In addition to pottery sherds we found some points.
Point Found at one SiteGo To Top