Petroglyphs and Pictographs
Objective: Compare and contrast the subject matter of pictographs and petroglyphs.
Background: Petroglyphs and pictographs represent two distinctive methods for producing rock art. Petroglyphs are carved or pecked into an exposed rock surface, while pictographs are painted onto those surfaces. The two methods require different materials and the creation of petroglyphs obviously requires considerably more time and effort. Perhaps for this reason, pictographs far outnumber petroglyphs in our archeological site records. Do these differences also influence the subject matter that is illustrated in the two rock art types?
Activity: Use the Search screen to run a query by selecting Rock Art Category = Native American Prehistoric and Rock Art Type = Petroglyphs. How many records did you retrieve? Now search the database by selecting Rock Art Category = Native American Prehistoric and Rock Art Type = Pictographs. How many records did this search retrieve? Take a look at the images you retrieved in your searches: what similarities and differences can you identify in the subjects depicted in the two types of rock art? (Hint: try categorizing your results by motif; e.g., human, animal, geometric, etc.).
Additional Exercise: Now search for Rock Art Category = Prehistoric Native American and Rock Art Type = Combination. How does the number and subject matter of these examples compare with the results of your previous searches?
Contributed by: George Sabo III, Arkansas Archeological Survey