Rock Art

Published on May 6, 2013 by Casey

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Rock Art - Petroglyphs Utah
Rock Art – Petroglyphs Utah

Rock Art

What is Rock Art? Definition: Rock Art is a generic term used to describe ancient rock drawings, carvings or paintings. Rock Art is found in a number of places in including rock faces and caves. Other works of art were created from boulders and stones on the ground. Many different types of Rock Art was created by ancient civilisations and feature designs, motifs, patterns, figures or symbols engraved, painted or carved on stone. Rock Art was undertaken by the ancients to express artistic or religious meanings, acknowledge special events or were created as a form of magic. Images of mysterious Mythical creatures and monsters are also featured in Rock Art. Native Americans had their own ‘tribal historians’ who produced iconographic or written records. Rock art is one of the oldest of these ancient forms of record keeping.

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Types of Rock Art

The term rock art was coined in the 1940s. The different types of Rock Art are described using the following common terms and names:

  • Rock Art Drawings
  • Rock Art Carvings
  • Rock Art Paintings
  • Rock Art Inscriptions
  • Rock Art Pictures
  • Rock Art Sculptures
  • Rock Art Engravings

Rock Art Terminology

Rock Art is the generic term used to cover all forms of pictures that have been created on rocks. The words and terms used to describe different forms of rock art can be confusing when the subject is first researched. The following terms and definitions are used to describe the different forms of rock art which hopefully will clear any confusion related to the terminology used and the difference between Petroglyphs and Pictograms and all the other ‘P’ words relating to Rock Art!

Petroglyphs - Drawings carved in rock

‘Pecked’ Petroglyphs Rock Art is produced by using a hammer and chisel, as opposed to carving

Pictographs are ancient rock art figures and symbols that are drawn or painted onto a rock face, normally without any pecking or abrasive methods of creating the picture. Paint made from powdered minerals, blood, charcoal, or other substances were used to make pictographs. Pictography means the application of pigments.

Pictograms are a form of writing which uses a number of painted drawings to tell a story. Pictograms are found on non-rock objects such as weapons and clothing used by Native Americans

Petroforms are human-made patterns and shapes made by lining up or piling natural stones many large rocks and boulders over open, level ground

Patina – The outer layer, or skin, on rock surfaces that differs in color or chemical composition from the inner rock beneath

Panels - Individual markings on Rock Art are called motifs and groups of motifs are known as panels

Petrosomatoglyphs - A petrosomatoglyph is a representation of parts of a human or animal body incised in rock – commonly hands, feet or footprints

Source: warpaths2peacepipes Unabridged
Based on the collective work of, © 2015 Native American Encyclopedia.
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Rock Art Unabridged. Native American Encyclopedia (accessed: May 28, 2015).

Modern Language Association (MLA):

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