Seeing Ancient Peoples
Objective: Study the appearance and other characteristics of ancient Native Americans portrayed in their rock art.
Background: Human figures and human appendages such as hands and feet are commonly depicted in rock art. Some images are naturalistic and some are highly stylized. What can we tell about ancient people from the ways they portrayed themselves in rock art?
Activities: Search the database (using the Search screen) by selecting Rock Art Category = Prehistoric Native American and General Motif = Anthropomorph. How are humans pictured: What articles of clothing can you identify? What other forms of ornamentation can you find? What postures are illustrated? What activities are shown? Can you identify symbolic representations of humans? What unusual or exotic human forms can you identify, and what do you think these forms represent?
Additional Exercise: Do some additional database searches to identify the types of sites on which human figures (and different kinds of human figures) most often occur. You may also wish to see if you can identify any associations between the presence (or absence) of human figures and other categories, such as site aspect, presence/absence of other rock art motifs, etc.
Contributed by: George Sabo III, Arkansas Archeological Survey