Waco Gem and Mineral Club, Waco, Tx

14.5 Recording and Interpreting Rock Art


14.5: Recording and Interpreting Rock Art

If you live near a rock art site, organize a field trip. Make sure kids are respectful of the rock art and do nothing to deface it. These spots are sacred to Native Americans, and many have survived centuries in the elements. Help preserve them for centuries to come! If you don‘t have a spot near you, show kids a photo gallery of rock art sites from around the world at this web site: http://www.bradshawfoundation.com. If visiting a site, have kids bring sketch pads to copy their favorite images. They might also take photos, but nothing beats sketching in your own hand to get a true feel for the art and to force you to make a careful examination. Then hold a discussion with your kids about what they think various images and symbols left by the Indians may mean. The meanings behind most cave and cliff paintings and petroglyphs have been lost and may never be understood, but some images are clear and paint vivid stories, such as hunting for bighorn sheep or bison.

While most books about rock art focus on the Southwest, ancient rock art has been found throughout America. Here are some guidebooks that talk about rock art from coast to coast and that provide directions to rock art localities. See if you can find one near you.

Arnold & Hewitt, Stories in Stone: Rock Art Pictures (Houghton Mifflin, 1996), images from the Coso Range of the California Mojave; for ages 12 and up.

Coy, et al., Rock Art of Kentucky (University of Kentucky Press, 2004).

Duncan, The Rock-Art of Eastern North America (University of Alabama Press, 2004), covers from the Atlantic Coast to the Ozarks, MN, IA, and MO.

Farnsworth & Heath, Rock Art Along the Way (Rio Nuevo, 2006), covers UT, NM, CO, NV, AZ, CA.

Francis & Loendorf, Ancient Visions: Petroglyphs & Pictographs of the Wind River & Bighorn County, Wyoming & Montana (University of Utah Press, 2002).

Keyser, Art of the Warriors: Rock Art of the American Plains (University of Utah Press, 2004).

Keyser, Indian Art of the Columbia Plateau (University of Washington Press, 2003).

Keyser & Klassen, Plains Indian Rock Art (University of Washington Press, 2003).

Lenik, Picture Rocks: American Indian Rock Art of the Northeast Woodlands (University Press of New England, 2002).

Loendorf, Chippindale, & Whitley, Discovering North American Rock Art (University of Arizona Press, 2005).

Patterson, A Field Guide to Rock Art Symbols of the Greater Southwest (Johnson Books, 1992), covers AZ, CA, NV, CO, UT, NM, TX.

Sanders, Rock Art Savvy: The Responsible Visitor’s Guide to Public Sites of the Southwest (Mountain Press, 2005), covers AZ, CA, CO, NV, NM, TX, UT.

Sullivan & Sullivan, Roadside Guide to Indian Ruins & Rock Art of the Southwest (Westcliffe Publishers, 2006).

Sundstrom, Storied Stone: Indian Rock Art in the Black Hills Country (University of Oklahoma Press, 2004).

Whitley, A Guide to Rock Art Sites (Mountain Press, 1996), southern CA, NV.

Note: This activity can be used to satisfy requirements toward earning the Field Trip badge (Activity 8.3) and the Communication badge (Activities 7.1 & 7.2) simultaneously.