Rock Art Lesson Plan
Title: Seeing Ancient People
Grade Level: 7-9
Objectives: Examine the appearance and identify other characteristics of ancient Native Americans as portrayed in their rock art.
Subject Areas: History, Social Studies
Skills: Use artistic images to identify human characteristics and infer from these characteristics the purposes for which the images were made.
Overview: Human figures are commonly depicted in petroglyph, pictograph, and combination forms of rock art imagery. Some of these images are naturalistic and some are highly stylized. These images depict ancient people in a variety of poses, some of which seem to represent ritual activity.
Time: 30-60 minutes
Materials: Rock art images from the Human Figures Photo Gallery , either printed out (preferably in color) or shown on a computer screen. Optional: paper and writing implements or word processing equipment to produce written work. The activity can also be conducted as a group oral exercise.
Activity: Students (working individually or in groups) begin by examining a set of human figure rock art images. Their task is first to identify articles of clothing and personal ornaments. Next, they can identify any objects the figures are holding and see if they can determine what the objects are and what the people were doing with those objects. Finally, students can identify different postures among the figures and consider what those postures might indicate. From all of these observations, students should then make inferences about the people depicted: who are they, what are they doing, and for what purposes was the ancient rock art produced?
Assessment/Evaluation: Student performance can be evaluated at two levels: 1) lower level ability to identify and categorize the artistic representations of clothing, personal ornaments, objects, and postures; and 2) higher level ability to infer identity (gender, status, etc.) and behavior features indicated by those items and postures, and to recognize the story-telling or "historical narrative" purpose for which the images were produced.
Additional Activities: Expand the set of images to use in this activity by searching the Rock Art Database; use the Search Screen and select Rock Art Category = Prehistoric Native American and General Motif = Anthropomorph.
Contributor: George Sabo III, Arkansas Archeological Survey