Archaeologies of Art: Time, Place, and Identity

  • 95 655 2
  • Like this paper and download? You can publish your own PDF file online for free in a few minutes! Sign Up

Archaeologies of Art: Time, Place, and Identity

Archaeologies of Art One World Archaeology Series Sponsored by the World Archaeological Congress Series Editors: Joan

2,334 526 3MB

Pages 281 Page size 432 x 648 pts Year 2011

Report DMCA / Copyright


Recommend Papers

File loading please wait...
Citation preview

Archaeologies of Art

One World Archaeology Series Sponsored by the World Archaeological Congress Series Editors: Joan Gero, Mark Leone, and Robin Torrence One World Archaeology volumes contain carefully edited selections of the exemplary papers presented at the World Archaeology Congress (WAC), held every four years, and intercongress meetings. WAC gives place to considerations of power and politics in framing archaeological questions and results. The organization also gives place and privilege to minorities who have often been silenced or regarded as beyond capable of making main line contributions to the field. All royalties from the series are used to help the wider work of the organization. The series is published by Left Coast Press, Inc., beginning with volume 48. 58 Managing Archaeological Resources, Francis P. McManamon, Andrew Stout, and Jodi A. Barnes (eds.) 57 Landscapes of Clearance, Angèle P. Smith and Amy Gazin-Schwartz (eds.) 56 Underwater and Maritime Archaeology in Latin America and the Caribbean, Margaret E. Leshikar-Denton and Pilar Luna Erreguerena (eds.) 55 Archaeologies of Art, Inés Domingo Sanz, Dánae Fiore, and Sally K. May (eds.) 54 Archaeology and Capitalism, Yannis Hamilakis and Philip Duke (eds.)

53 Living Under the Shadow, John Grattan and Robin Torrence (eds.) 52 Envisioning Landscapes, Dan Hicks, Laura McAtackney, and Graham Fairclough (eds.) 51 Rethinking Agriculture, Timothy P. Denham, José Iriarte, Luc Vrydaghs (eds.) 50 A Fearsome Heritage, John Schofield and Wayne Cocroft (eds.) 49 Archaeology to Delight and Instruct, Heather Burke and Claire Smith (eds.) 48 African Re-Genesis, Jay B. Haviser and Kevin C. MacDonald (eds.)

Previous volumes in this series, available from Routledge: 47 Indigenous Archaeologies 46 Archaeologies of the British 45 Natural Disasters and Cultural Change 44 Materiel Culture 43 The Dead and their Possessions 42 Illicit Antiquities 41 Destruction and Conservation of Cultural Property 40 Madness, Disability & Social Exclusion 39 The Archaeology of Dry lands 38 The Archaeology of Difference 37 Time and Archaeology 36 The Constructed Past 35 Archaeology and Language IV 34 Archaeology and Language III 33 Cultural Resource Management in Contemporary Society 32 Prehistory of Food 31 Historical Archaeology 30 The Archaeology and Anthropology of Landscape 29 Archaeology and Language II 28 Early Human Behaviour in the Global Context 27 Archaeology and Language I 26 Time, Process and Structured Transformation in Archaeology

25 24 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

The Presented Past Social Construction of the Past Sacred Sites, Sacred Places Tropical Archaeobotany Archaeology and the Information Age The Archaeology of Africa Origins of Human Behaviour From the Baltic to the Black Sea The Excluded Past Signifying Animals Hunters of the Recent Past What’s New? Foraging and Farming The Politics of the Past Centre and Periphery Archaeological Approaches to Cultural Identity Archaeological Heritage Management in the Modem World Conflict in the Archaeology of Living Traditions Animals into Art The Meaning of Things Who Needs the Past? State and Society Domination and Resistance The Walking Larder What is an Animal?

Archaeologies of Art Time, Place, and Identity

Edited by Inés Domingo Sanz, Dánae Fiore, and Sally K. May

Walnut Creek, CA

LEFT COAST PRESS, INC. 1630 North Main Street, #400 Walnut Creek, California 94596 Copyright © 2008 by Left Coast Press, Inc. First paperback edition 2009. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher. Hardback ISBN 978-1-59874-264-0; Paperback ISBN 978-1-59874-265-7 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Archaeologies of art: time, place, and identity/edited by Inés Domingo Sanz, Dánae Fiore, and Sally K. May. p. cm. – (One world archaeology) Includes index. ISBN 978-1-59874–264-0 (hardback : alk. paper) 1. Petroglyphs–Case studies. 2. Rock paintings–Case studies. I. Domingo Sanz, Inés. II. Fiore, Dánae. III. May, Sally K. GN799.P4A72 2008 709.01’13–dc22 2007044311

Printed in the United States of America ∞ ™ The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI/NISO Z39.48—1992.

Cover design: Joanna Ebenstein

To Isabel Domingo, Heather May, and Julio Caramelo and especially to Fiona Caramelo, who was born during the preparation of this volume.


List of Illustrations Acknowledgments

9 13


Archaeologies of Art: Time, Place, and Identity in Rock Art, Portable Art, and Body Art Inés Domingo Sanz, Dánae Fiore, and Sally K. May



Space and Discourse As Constituents of Past Identities – The Case of Namibian Rock Art Tilman Lenssen-Erz



Rocks of Ages: Petroglyphs, Pictographs, and Identity in Puerto Rico Peter G. Roe and Michele H. Hayward



Rock Art, Modes of Production, and Social Identities during the Early Formative Period in the Atacama Desert (Northern Chile) Francisco Gallardo and Patricio De Souza



From the Form to the Artists: Changing Identities in Levantine Rock Art (Spain) Inés Domingo Sanz



Memoried Sacredness and International Elite Identities: The Late Postclassic at La Casa de las Golondrinas, Guatemala Eugenia J. Robinson



Same Tradition, Different Views: The Côa Valley Rock Art and Social Identity Luís Luís and Marcos García Díez



Learning Art, Learning Culture: Art, Education, and the Formation of New Artistic Identities in Arnhem Land, Australia Sally K. May



Eagle’s Reach: A Focal Point for Past and Present Social Identity within the Northern Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, Australia Paul S. C. Taçon, Matthew Kelleher, Graham King, Wayne Brennan




10 Panache and Protocol in Australian Aboriginal Art Claire Smith


11 Body Painting and Visual Practice: The Creation of Social Identities through Image Making and Display in Tierra del Fuego (Southern South America) Dánae Fiore


About the Contributors Index

267 273

List of Illustrations

Figures Figure 2.1 Figure 2.2 Figure 2.3 Figure 2.4 Figure 2.5 Figure 3.1 Figure 3.2 Figure 3.3 Figure 3.4 Figure 3.5 Figure 3.6 Figure 4.1

Figure 4.2 Figure 4.3

Figure 4.4 Figure 4.5 Figure 5.1 Figure 5.2 Figure 5.3 Figure 5.4

Map showing the location of the Brandberg/ Daureb Rock art panel from Circus Gorge in the Brandberg A rock art site in the Brandberg/Daureb mountains Site Hungorob 2 is a typical waymark A rock art site in the Brandberg/Daureb Selected anthropomorphic images from various rock art sites in Puerto Rico Selected zoomorphic and abstract images from various rock art sites in Puerto Rico Sequence of Puerto Rican rock art Modern Artisan Fair in Puerto Rico A roadside sculpture by a Puerto Rican artisan The cover of the Diccionario Taino Ilustrado by Edwin Miner Solá Distribution of the Taira Tulan and Confluencia styles in the Atacama region (Northern Chile) Clay pipe; San Francisco Culture (1500–400 B.C.E.), Northwest Argentina Incomplete camelid Taira Tulan style (engraved) in superposition over camelids Confluencia style (red ochre) Hunters painted with spear thrower and darts and camelids Engraved Taira Tulán Style Geographical distribution of Levantine rock art (Spain) Variations in the Levantine human figures Themes represented in the Centelles horizon and the Civil type Themes represented in the Mas d’en Josep and Cingle type

32 33 36 39 44 53 54 58 69 70 71 80

84 86

88 89 101 108 109 112


List of Illustrations

Figure 5.5 Figure 5.6 Figure 5.7 Figure 6.1 Figure 6.2 Figure 6.3 Figure 6.4

Figure 7.1

Figure 7.2 Figure 7.3 Figure 7.4 Figure 8.1 Figure 8.2 Figure 8.3 Figure 8.4 Figure 8.5 Figure 8.6 Figure 8.7 Figure 8.8 Figure 8.9 Figure 8.10 Figure 8.11 Figure 8.12 Figure 8.13 Figure 8.14

Themes represented in the Lineal type Sequence of Levantine human motifs Evolution of some formal features The sites and towns in the southern Kaqchikel area Suns motifs, eastern area of La Casa de las Golondrinas The Mexican paintings in Area B of La Casa de las Golondrinas Sanguayaba Unslipped: Sanguayaba Variety cache jar, seed spindle whorl, and two gourd bowls The Palaeolithic and Modern rock art sites and the Upper Palaeolithic occupation sites in the Côa Valley (Portugal) Penascosa, panel 3 Partial view of Rego da Vide, panel 5 Newspaper article that first published the Côa rock art Rock painting from western Arnhem Land in X-ray style Wet season bark shelter from Mangalod on the Mann River, Central Arnhem Land Artists working at the Kunbarlanja art centre 2005 Total number of artworks by male age group Thompson Yulidjirri 2003 Painting by Thompson Yulidjirri 2003 Painting by Thompson Yulidjirri 2003 Waralak Men by Thompson Yulidjirri 2003 Turtle and Echidna Story by Thompson Yulidjirri 2003 Namarrkon by Thompson Yulidjirri 2003 Waralak Men by Joey Nganjmirra 2003 Blue Tongue Lizard Story by Joey Nganjmirra 2003 Ngalyod and Yawk Yawk by Joey Nganjmirra 2003 Ngalyod, Yawk Yawk and fish by Joey Nganjmirra 2003

114 116 118 132 140 142 145


154 155 162 174 175 178 178 181 183 183 184 185 185 186 186 187 187

List of Illustrations

Figure 8.15 Figure 9.1 Figure 9.2

Two brown snakes by Joey Nganjmirra 2003 Drawings and stencils at Eagle’s Reach Animal-human composite creature at Eagle’s Reach Figure 9.3 The main eagle at Eagle’s Reach Figure 9.4 Graham King being smoked by Brett Allen near Eagle’s Reach Figure 10.1 Barunga region, Northern Territory, Australia Figure 10.2 Transformational relationships Figure 10.3 The broad distribution of art forms according to artist Figure 10.4 The broad distribution of modes according to artist Figure 10.5 The discrete distribution of modes according to artist Figure 10.6 The discrete distribution of art forms according to artist Figure 10.7 Bird carving made by Fred Blitner Figure 10.8 The panache of Paddy Fordham Figure Figure 10.9 Painting on linoleum by Paddy Fordham Figure 10.10 Lorrkorn made by Peter Manabaru Figure 10.11 Distribution of features according to the context of distribution Figure 11.1 Map of the Fueguian societies territories Figure 11.2 Yayosh painting Lakutaia Figure 11.3 Yámana man painted and masked as a spirit during the kina ceremony Figure 11.4 Selk’nam men painted and masked as So’orte spirits during the hain


188 200 201 205 210 216 220 223 224 226 227 228 230 231 234 236 244 254 258 261

Tables Table 3.1 Table 4.1 Table 5.1

Table 6.1

Cultural Chronology of Puerto Rico Comparison of Main Characteristics between Confluencia and Taira Tulan styles Evolution of the Subject Matter in Levantine Rock Art According to the Different Human Types Radiocarbon Dates of La Casa de las Golondrinas

55 86 123



List of Illustrations

Table 8.1 Table 8.2 Table 8.3

Table 10.1 Table 10.2 Table 10.3

Paintings on Paper by Subject Category Bark Paintings by Subject Category Table Illustrating the Total Number of Each Subject Category for Both A4- and Half-SheetSized Paper Frequency of Motif Use According to Number of Artists Length of lorrkons According to Individual Artists Number of Motif Types Used in Different Contexts of Distribution

190 190 191

225 232 236


This book was originally inspired by the theme ‘Art and Social Identity’ presented at the World Archaeological Congress (WAC) in Washington D.C. in 2003. Although this book was inspired by this conference theme, we desired it to represent more than simply a collection of conference papers. Contributions were solicited from researchers (a number of whom were not involved in the WAC conference) who could bring new and exciting ideas to these issues of archaeology, art, time, place, and identity by presenting results of new or previously unpublished research, rather than general overviews. The making of this book has been a lengthy process, and we have many people to thank. First, we thank the World Archaeological Congress publication committee for having faith in us and Professor Claire Smith for her encouragement and for bringing the three of us together as editors of this book. Second, we would like to thank Professor Mark Leone for his support throughout the last three years. Third, we would like to thank all the people whose comments have improved the quality of the book, either the content or the language, especially the external reviewers and Dr. Heather Burke. Finally, we would like to thank all the contributors to this book for their enthusiasm, diligence, and patience. We hope you are proud of the outcome. Although we have worked together on this book for three years, we have never had the opportunity to come together and discuss it in person. The Internet has become our main tool and forum of discussion. Our interest in the ways past and present societies reflect their identity through their material objects, and especially through different forms of artistic expressions, was forged independently during the elaboration of our respective Ph.D.s, focused on rock art, body art, and contemporary Aboriginal art from Spain, Argentina, and Australia. Thus this was an individual journey for each of us, and we have different people to thank. Dr. Inés Domingo Sanz would like to thank all the people who contributed to shape her view on the topic of style and rock art during this period. Her theoretical background has been enriched by the suggestions of Professor Valentín Villaverde, Professor Claire Smith, and Dr. Margaret Conkey. She also wants to thank Professor Claire Smith, Gary Jackson, and Dr. Sally K. May for sharing their knowledge about the role of rock art in current Aboriginal communities of Arnhem Land and the Aboriginal people from those communities (Wugularr, Barunga, and Kunbarlanja) for changing her view about the importance of the social context for 13



the interpretation of rock art and its spatial distribution. The predoctoral fellowship ‘V Segles’ from the University of Valencia (Spain) and the ‘Beca Postdoctoral de Excelencia de la Generalitat Valenciana’ held at Flinders University (Adelaide, Australia) have provided the financial support to invest time in the compilation of this book. To work together with Dr. Dánae Fiore and Dr. Sally K. May for the last three years has been a great experience and has provided her a great international knowledge on the issue and, of course, friendship. Inés also wants to thank her family and her husband, Dídac Roman, for the time she steals from them to invest in archaeology. Dr. Dánae Fiore would like to thank Luis Orquera and Stephen Shennan for their encouragement and support through so many years and for their continuous interest in the development of her research in general and of this book in particular; Claire Smith for her constant encouragement; and Mark Leone for his relentless commitment to seeing this book come to fruition. She is also very grateful to Julio Caramelo for understanding (and gracefully coping with) what is involved with being married to an archaeologist, and to Fiona Caramelo for the time her mom has stolen from her while working on this book. Finally, Dánae would like to thank Inés and Sally for their generous invitation to coedit this volume with them; this project was their original initiative, and I feel extremely grateful to them for giving me the chance to take part in such a challenging and rewarding venture. Dr. Sally K. May would like to thank Flinders University for their support during the production of this book and she would especially like to acknowledge and thank Duncan Wright and her family for their support and encouragement over the years it took to produce this book. Sally would like to individually thank Claire Smith and Paul S. C. Taçon, for their ongoing academic support and friendship. Finally, Dr. May thanks, most sincerely, Dánae and Inés for their understanding and support during production of this book and for inspiring her with their ability to handle academic careers, students, husbands, babies, and sometimes sickness, all at the same time. This book is evidence of your resilience and determination.

CHAPTER 1 Archaeologies of Art: Time, Place, and Identity in Rock Art, Portable Art, and Body Art Inés Domingo Sanz, Dánae Fiore, and Sally K. May

Time, place, and identity are some of the main issues archaeologists try to confront through the empirical and analytical study of visual arts (rock art, portable art, and body art). The classical view of these archaeological remains as art for art’s sake, created by a gifted individual or having a specific/unique aesthetic quality (for example, Reinach in Ucko and Rosenfeld 1967) is no longer supported in the academic arena. Just as with any other archaeological remains, visual arts are filled with significance and encode many levels of information about the identity of the artists and their sociocultural context. This information can be more or less successfully decoded through different ways of doing archaeology, understood as the study of past societies through the analysis of their material culture. Archaeological evidence is usually debris of human activities, often scattered fragments resulting from abandonment or destruction. However, the three particular artistic endeavours analysed in this book – rock art (images painted or engraved on rocks), portable art (decorated artefacts or artefacts shaped with specific forms), and body art (images painted or tattooed on the body) – are more than discarded fragments of human activity. They are both a reflection of, and a constructing force behind, human culture. Likewise, even if it is internationally accepted that the meaning of the message of past art traditions (particularly when they are prehistoric) is inaccessible in the present, there are enough data hidden in the motifs to place them in cultural, spatial, and temporal contexts. Considered within this context, this book unites international case studies to explore questions of time, place, and identity through the archaeological and ethnoarchaeological analysis of rock art, contemporary Aboriginal art, and body art. The long and ongoing debate about the misuse and in/appropriateness of the term ‘art’ for past and nonWestern images is not central to this book (see Anati 2002; Conkey and 15


Chapter 1

Hastorf 1990; Fiore 1996; Layton 1991; Leroi-Gourhan 1964; Ucko and Rosenfeld 1967; among others), and the term is broadly used throughout the chapters as a common denominator of the wide realm of images created and viewed by past and present human groups in different parts of the globe. The chapters in this book reflect this openness in attitudes to art and of its relationship to time, place, and identity within an archaeological framework. There is a great diversity of frameworks and analyses reflected in these eleven chapters, and these archaeologies (plural) of art show that there are several viewpoints to the issue of how time, place, and identity can be explored through art. At the same time, this selection of chapters shows the limits of each of these viewpoints which, in turn, relates to the nature of the archaeological questioning and to the low visibility of many factors in the archaeological record. In line with this, tackling the issue of, for example, identity in art does not involve imagining situations but rather tying interpretations and theories to material correlates. Archaeology can contribute considerably more to the study of art than picture books and pseudoscience.

Archaeologies versus Archaeology Plurality is one of the main notions this book embraces, and connotations of this are invoked by each of the concepts tackled in this volume. The word ‘art’, even if singular, involves the wide range of visual forms in which artistic creations can be shaped, including the three main artistic endeavours analysed through this volume, rock art, body art, and portable art. Time is conceived in different ways by different cultures, be it lineal, cyclic, spiral, or simply disregarded as a factor affecting reality (Bailey 1983; Garcia Canclini 1986; Gosden 1994; Ridley 1994; Rowlands 1993; Shanks and Tilley 1987). Approaching such variety of conceptions about time through a contemporary perspective is clearly a challenge. The picture becomes even more complex when it is considered that archaeologists deal with fragmentary pieces of material culture. The eleven chapters in this book represent a small selection of the wide range of temporal phases or periods recognizable in world artistic production. These include the Palaeolithic and the current practices of engravers in Foz Côa (Portugal); the precontact and postcontact artistic traditions of different American populations (Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, Puerto Rico), the Neolithic art of Mediterranean Spain and the Saharan groups; and the current artistic practices of three distinct Australian Aboriginal cultures. In all these cases, time has been conceived more as

Archaeologies of Art


an external analytical framework to plot a specific artistic phenomenon or stylistic sequence (that is, from an ‘etic’ perspective) than as an internal constituent of art traditions (that is, from an ‘emic’ perspective). Place can also be culturally conceived and constructed in a number of ways, from its conception as an external, objective, and exclusively material frame for human action to its conception as a subjective, animated being that is an integral part of human existence (for instance, Hernando 2000; Tilley 1994; Ucko and Layton 1999). Again, grasping for the traces of such conceptions in the archaeological remains of art creations is quite a challenge, and this is why most of the chapters in this book have tackled the study of place mainly as a particular position or point in space used for producing, exchanging, or displaying visual arts. Nevertheless, it is also clear that in many chapters, place has been conceived as a sociocultural construction, an active socialization of space that has been brought into cultural life through its visual marking. By selecting case studies from the four continents (Africa/Namibia, America/Argentina/ Chile/Guatemala/Puerto Rico, Europe/Portugal/Spain, and Oceania/ Australia), we encompasses multiple places and landscapes that have been partly constituted through the creation of artistic expressions. We also tackle identity plurally in this book: It is conceived at different scales (from individual to group to society to human species; from motif, to artefact or body or site, to region, and so on). Moreover, it involves both past and present identities of art producers/viewers and present identities of the archaeologists who study them (Hernando 2002; Jones 1997). These latter are regarded in this book as active agents in the construction of knowledge, values, and feelings toward other people’s – past and present – identities, and, as the chapters of this book clearly show, their involvement in this process requires a degree of selfawareness in order to develop a critical approach to their own work. Thus, by discussing Archaeologies, this book aims to draw attention to the connotation of plurality invoked by each of the mentioned concepts. Moreover, the plural use of the word ‘archaeology’ is consciously directed to reflect the plurality of methods available to archaeologists to address the same archaeological questions related to art, time, place, and identity, and the multiple backgrounds of the researchers contributing to this volume.

Time, Place, and Identity in Focus Archaeologies of Art aims to understand how artists leave marks of authorship in the work of art: through a plurality of methods used by archaeologists worldwide to interpret this information, those marks of authorship are attributable to specific times, places, and identities.


Chapter 1

The ethnoarchaeological studies in this book provide the framework to observe through informed methods how artists negotiate and construct their individual or group identities through the creation, display, and consumption of rock, portable, and body art (see chapters by Smith; May; Taçon, Kelleher, King, and Brennan; and Fiore). The archaeological studies of rock art illustrate how the material evidence provides the tools to reconstruct the identities of societies in the past (see chapters by Lenssen; Gallardo and De Souza; Domingo Sanz; Robinson) and in the present (see chapters by Luís and García Díez; and Roe and Hayward). Far from suggesting the use of ethnographic examples as direct analogies to interpret art, this book aims to combine ethnography and archaeology to create a more critical and scientific methodology for the archaeological study of visual arts. The ethnoarchaeological chapters in this book also avoid the use of ethnography as a source of ‘cautionary tales’, since these serve mainly to pinpoint ambiguous factors in material culture patterning but usually do not provide methodological tools to break down such ambiguity and move forward toward the systematic interpretation of such patterns. Ethnography is then viewed both as a way of constructing knowledge about the material correlates of creating and displaying visual arts and as a medium to test archaeological methods for studying visual arts: Both aspects help to create awareness about the depth and the limitations of archaeological knowledge. The marks of authorship left by ancient or recent artists are also combined with the marks of authorship left by archaeologists when studying them: this book aims to develop a sense of awareness about the fact that social identity is not just a past process fixed in time and space but that it is also rather a malleable process influenced by the archaeologists who are researching it. The different manners in which the issue of art and identity are tackled through the eleven chapters of this book are, indeed, a tangible way of demonstrating that social identity is also inextricably involved in each author’s way of doing science. Within this framework, the unity of the book is given by a series of key questions addressed by the contributors from their different archaeological or ethnoarchaeological perspectives and case studies: ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

How is social identity constructed and/or reproduced by art? What are the scopes and the limitations of the use of this concept in the archaeologies of art? What type of evidence is relevant, and which kind of analyses are required? To what extent do we as archaeologists create an identity for past and present-day people who create/d rock art, portable art, or body art? What is the role of living art producers and/or people related to ancient art producers in the current construction of these identities?

Archaeologies of Art


To address these questions, the material aspects of identity are the main source of information. It is accepted that these material aspects of identity will have a certain spatial and temporal distribution (which may or may not be archeologically recognisable) and will be liable to change in place and in time. Furthermore, the material aspects of social identity are not only distributed through time and space; the ways in which space and time are conceived, perceived, and manipulated are constitutive of identity, too.

Constructing Time Frames, Revealing Time Conceptions As noted above, time can be addressed in archaeology from an ‘etic’ perspective, that is, centred on the archaeologist’s own concepts, and from an ‘emic’ perspective, which intends to grasp some of the implications of other people’s conceptions of time which are usually different from those held by the researcher. The chapters in this book conceive time mainly as an external framework to locate art diachronically and are thus based on an ‘etic’, western perspective. Yet this does not mean that the concept of time has remained unchallenged – measuring time and placing art forms within a chronological context has been a concern for archaeologists worldwide. From the very beginning, relative sequences for both portable and rock art have been proposed on the basis of stratigraphic superimpositions, stylistic comparison, and depicted content (extinct animal species, depicted weapons, and so forth). Radiocarbon dating brought about a revolution between 1940 and 1970, and one could argue that obtaining absolute dates for some archaeological remains initially degraded the role of rock art as a valuable source of information about past cultural systems. Especially in North America, only a few archaeologists, artists, and avocationalists kept some interest in rock art while most archaeologists largely abandoned rock art studies on behalf of other datable archaeological remains (Keyser 2001:117). But the interest in relative sequences of rock art and portable art was kept in Europe, South Africa, Australia, and South America, providing useful analyses reflecting the changing identities of the artists in time and place (Chaloupka 1993; Domingo 2005; González 1977; Leroi-Gourhan 1964; Schobinger and Gradin 1985; Villaverde 1994; and so on). A second crisis for the relative dating of art forms (especially rock art) occurred in the 1990s, with the first direct dating of pigments and engravings (see Lorblanchet and Bahn 1993; Rosenfeld and Smith 1997). The use of style as a chronological marker was then called into question owing to inconsistencies between absolute dates and stylistic sequences. However, whereas some suggested the revision of


Chapter 1

stylistic sequences (Valladas and Clottes 2003), others demonstrated that radiocarbon dates also have limitations owing to the contamination of samples, the use of old woods and charcoal for painting, and so forth (see Fortea 2002; Pettitt and Bahn 2003; Rowe 2001; Steelman et al. 2005). In this context, relative methods of dating art forms are still useful to provide an order of styles and traditions. And, despite the difficulties in establishing their chronometric duration, the validity of relative methods for the archaeological interpretation of temporality and the role of visual arts for studying the evolution of past societies cannot be denied. Time – absolute and relative, scientific and social – is one of the necessary frames to conduct an archaeological study of social identities. Therefore, more than keeping the opposition between absolute and relative time, the perspective developed in this book suggests that both systems should be complementary to address the long- or shortterm dynamics involved in artistic traditions. This predominant concept of time as a chronological framework does not provide direct information about the ways in which it was conceived by other peoples in the past, nor of the manner in which it was involved in art creation and use. This situation is probably due to the fact that the archaeological visibility of past and/or foreign time conceptions is considerably low, particularly when one is dealing with prehistoric contexts. Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that some subtle inferences about ‘emic’ time conceptions have been drawn by some authors by linking temporality to the actual actions of creating art that entail marking and re-marking space – the bedrock, the artefact, the body – through visual art (see Luís and García Díez; Domingo Sanz; Robinson; Gallardo and De Souza; Fiore). The bedrock, the artefact, the body, can be visually marked only once, but they were often revisited or reused and repainted or reengraved annually, seasonally, or with some other periodicity. Such actions are visual appropriations and constructions of space – be it a place, an object, or a person – that entail a certain conception of time. Thus, art spaces always imply a sense of time: short or long, lineal or cyclic, mythical or mundane. It is clear that these conceptions are still ambiguous in terms of their archaeological visibility, but the fact that time conceptions can be related to space through the display of visual – and visible – art opens a window of interesting – and challenging – analytical possibilities.

Locating Place: Spatial Distribution and Enculturated Landscape Mapping the geographical continuities and discontinuities between different types of artistic evidences has also been central to establishing the boundaries of cultures and the social interactions among neighbouring

Archaeologies of Art


groups (see Barth 1969; Carr and Neitzel 1995; among others). This is especially achievable through rock art studies, since, unlike other material remains that can be exchanged and traded, rock art is fixed in place. It was certainly made and meant for the place where it is found and viewed (Burke and Smith 2004:224). Therefore, it is a relevant source of data to understand the way space was defined and used in a specific sociocultural context, the duration and intensity of the occupation, and how the perception of a specific place changed over time in the construction of social identities (see Lenssen-Erz in this volume). Hence, rock art is more than painted or engraved images; it is also place and landscape (Nash and Chippindale 2001:1). It is used to socialize natural environments or to mark path routes (Bradley 2000; Martínez 2000) and to create cultural and/or symbolic spaces (see Robinson in this volume). Since rock art is inextricably linked to the land (Ross 2001), it can be completely understood only in relation to its landscape, conceived both in environmental and sociocultural terms. Furthermore, the physical location of rock art (visibility, access, topography, monumentality, sounds, proximity to water sources, paths, burials or habitats, and so on), and the morphology of the rock (form, surface, texture, audible properties of the rock, and so forth) can be as symbolically important as the rock art itself. Social spaces were constructed according to certain sets of cultural rules, which regulated what kinds of activities were acceptable at different places in the landscape (Engelmark and Larsson 2005). Therefore, the location of rock art was not usually picked at random, and this is why the recurrent distribution of rock art sites or motifs can be linked to specific sociocultural groups, informing once more about the role of art in the construction of their social identities. Moreover, marking spaces visually creates significant places and gives them a certain identity; conversely, such marked places become constitutive of the social identity of those who marked them. This is also valid for the visual marks made on the body – which is probably one of the smallest and most personal spatial scales within a social group. The creation of body art (be it self-ornament or ornamentation by a third person) and its display in any context can produce individual and group identity for the wearer and the viewer; at the same time, such identity creation can involve the continuation or the interruption of a preexistent tradition, implying a dialectical relationship between identity patterns and social agencies (for example, Faris 1972; Strathern and Strathern 1971; see Fiore in this volume). Furthermore, ephemeral artistic techniques (for instance, body painting) can be used to construct multiple and momentary social identities in a single individual’s body along his/her social life, while durable techniques (for example, tattooing, scarification) are by their very materiality oriented toward marking the body in a non-ephemeral manner, and therefore are commonly used


Chapter 1

to inscribe and reinscribe (by addition) long-lasting identities on the body. In this sense, the body can become a very significant place where social identities can be visually constructed. Finally, the creation and the manipulation of artistic artefacts involve simultaneously two spatial levels: that of the artefact itself and that of the place/s where it was produced, used, maintained, recycled, broken, discarded. Social identity can be inferred from the ways in which the physical space of the artefact has been manipulated as a ‘canvas’ and/ or as a volume to create images (see May in this volume and Smith in this volume). But the spatial distribution of artefacts – as much as that of rock art – can also be significant as a landscape creator and as an identity marker. Time and space are, therefore, two essential concepts for approaching identities, but identities can be conceived only by combining both of them. Understanding spatial variations as markers of ethnicity is a central issue in archaeology, but this should not be an end in itself: beyond the reconstruction of a static picture of cultural traits at a particular point in time, archaeologists need to account for diachronic change in such patterns (Shennan 1989:28). Regional and landscape archaeological studies are helping to go beyond the traditional linear sequences constructed in the past, demonstrating the multiscalar temporalities structuring cultural action. They reflect how particular traditions expand or contract through time and how temporal changes do not necessarily synchronize everywhere, so different regions have specific sequences. Both basic concepts constitute the essential framework to construct our next concern: identities.

Discovering Identities: On the Relational Nature of Social Identity Social identity is one of the central issues of this book, and it is clearly linked with the previous issues of time and space. The most frequent tool to approach identities through archaeology is the concept of style, understood as ‘a way of doing’ (Hodder 1990; Wiessner 1990) or ‘a characteristic manner of doing something’ (Sackett 1977:370). Moreover, a style will be defined by a spatial and temporal invariance in a general way of doing, inasmuch regularities and specificities in space and time are particular to a specific epoch and/or region. The long debate on the concept of style has been summarized in different publications (see Carr and Neitzel 1995; Conkey 2006; Conkey and Hastorf 1990; Domingo Sanz 2005; Lorblanchet and Bahn 1993; Wobst 1999; and so on), and this volume pays attention to its relationship with identities in different chapters (see Smith; Gallardo and De Souza;

Archaeologies of Art


Domingo Sanz; Roe and Hayward). If we accept that rock art, portable art, and body art are part of the social mechanisms of identity construction, then we assume that stylistic differences can be used to identify groups and their social identities at different scales. It has long been accepted that style performs a fundamental function in the processes of visual communication and information exchange (Wobst 1977). Style can be defined as ‘the personal and/or group expression of visual communication through created forms’ (Smith 1996). Yet style is also evident in other less visual aspects of the ‘art-facts’ such as the choice of techniques (Dietler and Herbich 1994; Gosselain 1998) and the material and/or symbolic function of the artefacts (Sackett 1977:330). The selection of different technologies (canvas, raw materials, tools, processing modes, and so on) is not necessarily constrained by ecological and physical limitations (see Binford 1965) but also closely related to symbolic, religious, economic, and political values (Gosselain 1998:4; LeroiGourhan 1964; Lechtman 1977; and so forth), in line with this, technical actions result from social decisions, which are themselves stylistic. Furthermore, whereas formal and visual styles can be sometimes easily imitated or manipulated, technological styles usually require a deeper learning process and are more difficult to imitate and, therefore, provide relevant information to explore the more durable facets of social identity (Domingo 2005; Fiore 2006; Gosselain 1998:92). Hence, the recurrent use of a specific recipe for painting, a certain kind of brush, and so on, can be evidence of a particular individual or group identity. Similarly, variations in material culture can be conditioned by the function they serve. These functional variations are also stylistic since there is a wide range of equivalent alternatives available to the artists to obtain the same end (Sackett 1990). In other words, different formal features (or even technological features, such as different recipes for pigment, different brushes, and the like) can be selected to create an ‘art-fact’ with the same function. So even those features of the ‘art-fact’ that could be considered functional (or selected to accomplish a specific end) can be stylistic, in the sense that there are different options available to the artist to get to the same end and, therefore, the selection he makes, even if functional, is also stylistic. Therefore, the selection of a specific alternative, among all the available options, for a specific function makes this selection stylistic. The coexistence of more than one style with different functions in the same cultural tradition has been mentioned several times (Layton 1991; Schapiro 1953:294) and in the Barunga community (Northern Territory, Australia) materialises in a figurative style used with nonceremonial purposes and in a geometric style restricted to ceremonies (Smith 1996:241). To summarise, a particular way of doing can be identified either in the formal and decorative attributes, or in the functional or technological


Chapter 1

aspects of an ‘art-fact’, since it can appear in any stage of the operative chain of art production and use. The nature and the significance of stylistic variations are closely related with the nature and intentions of the social identities of the artists. These social identities can refer either to the identification of a group, conceived by Wiessner as emblemic style (1983) and by Macdonald (1990) as protocol, or the identification of individuals, addressed by Wiessner´s assertive style category (1983) and by Macdonald´s panache category (1990). Approaches to both kinds of processes – emblemic and assertive; protocol and panache – shed light on human agency and social identity and can be made through the study of material culture in general (for example, Dobres 2000) and through art analysis in particular (see Smith; May; Taçon, Kelleher, King, and Brennan; Roe and Hayward; Fiore in this volume). Clearly, interpreting these two different forms of identity in the archaeological record is complex, especially since more than one identity will arise and overlap in any given social group (depending on ethnicity, gender, age, occupation, class, and so on). In this book, social identity is conceived as a twofold construction, since it could be created through self-ascription or through ascription by others (Bonfil 1972; Diaz 1981, 1984). The former involves the self-identification of an individual with a group, whereas the latter refers to the recognition of individuals in a group either by the members of the group or by outsiders, including the archaeologists who study their material culture. In addition, self-ascription can be conscious or unconscious, since individuals are not necessarily aware that reproducing certain patterns relates them to a specific group (see also the concepts of Isochrestic Variation and Iconological Approach defined by Sackett 1982:82). On the contrary, ascription by others does require a conscious and intentional factor, since it entails awareness in the recognition of people as pertaining to a certain group. Nevertheless, the archaeological recognition of features revealing the identity of individuals/groups does not necessarily require the claim that such features were intentionally manipulated as identity-badges by people in the past. The chapters in this book show how art is involved in the construction of identity through both processes. Whereas current indigenous groups often use artistic production to define their identity in opposition to others (self-ascription) (see chapters by Smith; May; Luís and García Díez), archaeologists create sets of features from rock art to recognize different identities or groups of people (ascription by others) (see chapter by Domingo Sanz). The creation and maintenance of social identity operates mainly by opposition, since any ascription to a group (by self and/or by others) implies non-ascription to other groups (see Palaeolithic versus nonPalaeolithic in Luís and García Díez’s chapter; hunter-gatherers versus shepherds in Gallardo and De Souza; or Selk’nam versus Yámana in

Archaeologies of Art


Fiore). At the same time, defining what a particular identity involves requires us to define what such identity does not entail, and sometimes those differences are not well defined, generating many ‘grey areas’ between them (for an in-depth discussion about ‘complementary opposition’, see Roe and Hayward in this volume). Depending on the kind of materials manipulated in the creation and reproduction of gender, age, ethnic and/or other groups, some social identities have a higher archaeological visibility than others. The challenge is how to disentangle and study them through the archaeological record. To face such a challenge, the chapters in this book provide examples of the application of two different and combinable strategies. In the first place, it is essential to explicitly define the concepts and criteria through which social identity will be explored in the archaeological-artistic record. This entails explaining which variables are considered relevant for the aims of each researcher (form, technique, subject matters, patterns of composition, spatial distribution in the site or in the landscape, and so forth) and justifying such relevance in each specific study. Since there is no unique and common key for all the components of the material culture, the variables transmitting this social information will diverge according to the materials analysed, and the geographical and sociocultural scale of each study. In the second place, the concepts need to be tied in with empirical implications that shed light on their visibility in material culture patterns, tendencies and/or odd cases (not everything relevant comes in a pattern, and odd cases can be as informative as the neatest tendency). Such an explicit relationship between concepts and material culture is what then helps to argue for the archaeological visibility of social identity in art. This book shows that both strategies are not faced in the same manner by every author, which is clearly a reflection of the different academic traditions and identities of the authors as social agents. Nevertheless, such heterogeneity does not mean that we endorse the ‘anything goes’ perspective that fosters extreme relativism; on the contrary, we suggest that making the research criteria explicit and searching for nexus between concepts and data is a fruitful manner of developing both archaeological knowledge and academic self-awareness.

Concluding Remarks This book represents a sample of the different ways in which discussions of time, place, and identity can be addressed through the archaeological study of visual arts. The central idea of this volume is that the concept of identity (individual or group) is a social reality that can be shaped only by attending to a specific time and place and in opposition to others.


Chapter 1

Either consciously or unconsciously this identity leaves tangible traces in material culture and, therefore, in its archaeological remains: Such traces can be ‘read’ by archaeologists to construct past identities and to shed light on the involvement of art in this process. Overall, this book draws together new international research to reveal the changing ways archaeologists are studying art and the new information about past societies that is emerging through these changing archaeologies. The ten archaeological studies contained in this book highlight the high standard of research being undertaken by archaeologists studying art around the world and the role of art in approaching questions of social identity. Finally, the study of art has a long and complex history dotted with pseudoscience, eccentric explorers, and fanatical art enthusiasts, but, more significantly, the archaeological study of art in all its facets continues to enhance our understanding of human cultural activities throughout the ages.

References Anati, E. 2002. Lo stile come fatoore diagnostico nell’arte preistorica. Italia: Centro Camuno di Studi Preistorici, 112 pp. Bailey, G. 1983. ‘Concepts of time in quaternary prehistory’, Annual Review of Anthropology 12:165–92. Barth, F. 1969. Ethnic Groups and Boundaries. London: Unwin. Binford, L. R. 1965. ‘Archaeological systematics and the study of cultural process’. Reprinted in L. R. Binford, An Archaeological Perspective. New York: Academic Press, 195–207. Bonfil, G. 1972. ‘El concepto de indio en América: una categoría de la situación colonial’, Anales de Antropología 9:105–21. Bradley, R. 2000. The Significance of Natural Places. London: Routledge. Burke, H., and C. Smith. 2004. The Archaeologist’s Field Handbook. New South Wales: Allen and Unwin. Carr, C., and J. E. Neitzel (ed.). 1995. Style, Society and Person. Archaeological and Ethnological Perspectives. London: Plenum Press. Chaloupka, G. 1993. Journey in Time: The World’s Longest Continuing Art Tradition. Sydney: Reed. Conkey, M. 2006. ‘Style, design and function’. In Ch. Tilley, W. Keane, S. KuechlerFogden, M. Rowlands, and P. Spyer (eds.), The Handbook of Material Culture. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 355–72. Conkey, M., and C. Hastorf (eds.). 1990. The Uses of Style in Archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 124 pp. Diaz, H. 1981. ‘Etnía, clase y cuestión nacional’, Revista mexicana de ciencias políticas y sociales XXVII(103):101–20. ———. 1984. ‘Notas teórico-metodológicas para el estudio de la cuestión étnica’, Boletín de Antropología Americana 10:45–52. Dietler, M., and I. Herbich. 1994. ‘Ceramics and ethnic identity: Ethnoarchaeological observations on the distribution of pottery styles and the relationship between the social context of production and consumption’, Terre Cuite et Societé: La Ceramique, Document Technique, Economique, Cultural. XIV Reconcontres Internationales d’Archéologie et d’Histoire d’Antibes. Juan-les Pins. Ediciones APDCA.

Archaeologies of Art


Dobres, M. A. 2000. Technology and Social Agency: Outlining a Practice Framework for Archaeology. Oxford: Blackwell Publisher. Domingo Sanz, I. 2005. Técnica y ejecución de la figura en el Arte Rupestre Levantino. Hacia una definición actualizada del concepto de estilo: Validez y limitaciones. Valencia: Servei de Publicacions de la Universitat de València, 457 pp. (CD). Engelmark, R., and T. B. Larsson. 2005. ‘Rock art and environment: Toward increased contextual understanding’. In M. Santos and A. Troncoso, Reflexiones sobre Arte Rupestre: paisaje, forma y contenido. Tapa 33. Santiago de Compostela: Instituto de Estudios Galegos Padre Sarmiento, 113–22. Faris, J. 1972. Nuba Personal Art. London: Duckworth. Fiore, D. 1996. ‘El arte rupestre como producto complejo de procesos económicos e ideológicos: Una propuesta de análisis’, Espacio, Tiempo y Forma. Serie I. Prehistoria y Arqueología 9:239–59. ———. 2006. ‘Poblamiento de imágenes: Arte rupestre y colonización de la Patagonia. Variabilidad y ritmos de cambio en tiempo y espacio’. In D. Fiore and M. Podestá (eds.), Tramas en la Piedra. Producción y usos del arte rupestre. Buenos Aires: INAPL and WAC – World Archaeological Congress, 43–61. Fortea, F. J. 2002. ‘Trente-neuf dates C14-SMA pour l’art pariétal paleolithique des Asturies’, Bulletin de la Société Préhistorique Ariège-Pyrénées LVII:7–28. Garcia Canclini, N. 1986. La Produccion Simbolica. Teoria y Metodo en Sociologia del Arte. México: Siglo XXI. González, A. R. 1977. Arte precolombino de la Argentina. Buenos Aires: Filmediciones Valero. Gosden, C. 1994. Social Being and Time. Oxford: Blackwell. Gosselain, O. P. 1998. ‘Social and technical identity in a clay crystal ball’. In M. T. Stark, The Archaeology of Social Boundaries. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 7106. Hernando, A. 2000. ‘Hombres del tiempo y mujeres del espacio: Individualidad, poder y relaciones de género’, Arqueología Espacial 22:23–44. ———. 2002. Arqueología de la Identidad. Madrid: Akal. Hodder, I. 1990. ‘Style as historical quality’. In M. Conkey and C. Hastorf (eds.), The Uses of Style in Archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 44–51. Jones, S. 1997. The Archaeology of Ethnicity: Constructing Identities in the Past and the Present. London: Routledge. Keyser, J. D. 2001. ‘Relative dating methods’. In D. S. Whitley (ed.), Handbook of Rock Art Research. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, 116–38. Layton, R. 1991. The Anthropology of Art. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Lechtman, H. 1977. ‘Style in technology: Some early thoughts’. In H. Lechtman and R. S. Merrill (eds.), Material Culture: Styles, Organization and Dynamics of Technology. Saint Paul, MN: West Publications, 3–20. Leroi-Gourhan, A. 1964. Treasures of Prehistoric Art [English edition]. New York: H. N. Abrams. Lorblanchet, M., and P. G. Bahn. 1993. Rock Art Studies: The Post-Stylistic Era or, Where Do We Go from Here? Oxford: Oxbow Monograph, 35. Macdonald, W. 1990. ‘Investigating style: An exploratory analysis of some Plains burials’. In M. Conkey and C. Hastorf (eds.), The Uses of Style in Archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 52–60. Martínez, J. 2000. ‘La pintura rupestre esquemàtica como a estrategia simbòlica d’ocupació territorial’, Cota Zero 16:35–46. Nash, G., and C. Chippindale (eds.). 2001. European Landscapes of Rock-Art. London: Routledge. Pettitt, P., and P. Bahn. 2003. ‘Current problems in dating Palaeolithic cave art: Candamo and Chauvet’, Antiquity 77(295):134–41.


Chapter 1

Ridley, B. K. 1994. Time, Space and Things. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Rosenfeld, A., and C. Smith. 1997. ‘Recent developments in radiocarbon and stylistic methods of dating rock-art’, Antiquity 71:405–11. Ross, M. 2001. ‘Emerging trends in rock-art research: Hunter-gatherer culture, land and landscape’, Antiquity 75:543–48. Rowe, M. V. 2001. ‘Dating by AMS Radiocarbon Analysis’. In D. S. Whitley (ed.), Handbook of Rock Art Research. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, 139–66. Rowlands, M. 1993. ‘The role of memory in the transmission of culture’, World Archaeology 25(2):141–51. Sackett, J. R. 1977. ‘The meaning of style in archaeology: A general model’, American Antiquity 42(3):369–80. ———. 1982. ‘Approaches to style in lithic archaeology’, Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 1:59–112. ———. 1990. ‘Style and ethnicity in archaeology: The case for isochrestism’. In M. Conkey and C. Hastorf (eds.), The Uses of Style in Archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 32–43. Schapiro, M. 1953. ‘Style’. In A. L. Kroeber, Anthropology Today: An Encyclopedic Inventory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 287–312. Schobinger, H., and C. Gradin. 1985. Cazadores de la Patagonia y agricultores Andinos. Arte rupestre argentino. Madrid: Encuentro. Shanks, M., and C. Tilley. 1987. Re-constructing Archaeology: Theory and Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Shennan, S. 1989. ‘Introduction: Archaeological approaches to cultural identity’. In S. Shennan (ed.), Introduction: Archaeological Approaches to Cultural Identity. London: Routledge, 1–32. Smith, C. 1996. Situating style: An ethnoarchaeological study of social and material context in an Australian Aboriginal artistic system. Unpublished PhD Thesis, University of New England. Steelman, K. L., F. Carrera, R. Fábregas, T. Guilderson, and M. W. Rowe. 2005. ‘Direct radiocarbon dating of megalithic paints from northwest Iberia’, Antiquity 79:379–89. Strathern, A., and M. Strathern. 1971. Self-Decoration in Mount Hagen. London: Duckworth. Tilley, C. 1994. The Phenomenology of Landscape. Oxford: Berg Press. Ucko, P., and R. Layton (eds.). 1999. The Archaeology and the Anthropology of Landscape: Shaping Your Landscape. London: Routledge. Ucko, P., and A. Rosenfeld. 1967. Palaeolithic Cave Art. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. Valladas, H., and J. Clottes. 2003. ‘Style, Chauvet and radiocarbon’, Antiquity 77(295):142–45. Villaverde, V. 1994. Arte Paleolítico de la Cova del Parpalló. Estudio de la colección de plaquetas y cantos grabados y pintados. II vols. València: S.I.P. de la Diputació de València. Wiessner, P. 1983. ‘Style and social information in Kalahari San projectile points’, American Antiquity 48:253–76. ———. 1990. ‘Is there a unit of style?’. In M. Conkey and C. Hastorf (eds.), The Uses of Style in Archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 105–12. Wobst, M. 1977. ‘Stylistic behaviour and information exchange’. In C. E. Cleland (ed.), For the Director: Research Essays in Honor of James B. Griffin. University of Michigan, Museum of Anthropology Anthropological Papers, 61:317–42. ———. 1999. ‘Style in archaeology or archaeologists in style’. In E. S. Chilton (ed.), Material Meaning: Critical Approaches to the Interpretation of Material Culture, Foundations of Archaeological Inquiri, 118–32.

CHAPTER 2 Space and Discourse as Constituents of Past Identities – The Case of Namibian Rock Art Tilman Lenssen-Erz

Space and discourse belong to the fundamental experiences of the human existence: We can exist only in space, and discourse, the most complex form of communication, is that which distinguishes us from all other animals. Rock art forges these two experiences into a unified whole: Art is communication, and as rock art it retains the original spatial configurations over millennia. Accordingly, understanding the interaction of place and communication in rock art gives way to hypotheses concerning the meaning that the art – or more precisely the processes of its production and consumption – may have had for the people of long ago and the identities that they generated through the art. The significance of space can be analysed reliably owing to the property of rock pictures (usually) being highly visible artefacts that have not changed their relation to the surroundings since they were made. By contrast, discourses are ephemeral, and hypotheses as to their character can be put forth only by modelling past social bodies with their activities and behaviour. Under this perspective, rock pictures, in their capability of linking space and discourse, map onto the landscape the signs of meaningful social interaction, identities, and behaviour – thus enabling the partial reconstructing of the mental map of the prehistoric painters and with it their feeling of being-in-the-world.

Rock Art, Space, and Discourse Discourse, as understood here, settles somewhere between the narrow linguistic concept of being closely linked to restricted speech acts and a broad understanding in, for example, Foucault’s sense. Nearer to the latter and rather closely oriented on Paul Ricoeur’s definition (1979), discourse encompasses not only all kinds of conversation but also behaviour and action in response to or as manifestation of varying contexts. Rock art, being a highly conventionalised sign system, is both 29


Chapter 2

a prototype of discourse and a special type of material culture adding to discourse the possibility of transcending time while by its nature it is bound to a present (Ricoeur 1979:74). Studies of such a cultural asset (Tilley 1991), which has a clear focus on symbols and metaphors, are particularly apt to reveal information on identity. Space, as the second important analytical sphere, is a category of everyday, and in this context it would seem to be without deeper theoretical implications. However, space is being constantly redefined according to changing circumstances, and it comes into being only through perception, construction, and acceptance of limits. Accordingly, space always has an imaginary component (cf Swartz and Hurlbutt 1994). In prehistoric rock art, it has been demonstrated by D. Lewis-Williams for South African art that the rock face of a shelter, which normally is understood as the limit of the space, is the medium (a veil) for the entrance into another, supernatural world (Lewis-Williams and Dowson 1990; see also Keyser and Poetschat 2004). However, even if this view finds wide acceptance, it is impossible to pinpoint an umbrella theoretical stance considering the link of rock art and space in its large form of landscape, given a general divide between informal and formal methods (Chippindale and Nash 2004). This impossibility mirrors the situation of general archaeological studies of landscape in which processual and postprocessual approaches compete and only occasional attempts at a consolidation are being made (Layton and Ucko 1999). But eventually even efforts at finding a methodology through an amalgamation of methods and techniques may end up with rather general statements such as ‘common archaeological techniques such as settlement pattern, distributional, historical, social formation, and symbolic analyses all can contribute toward the building of a landscape approach’ (Anschuetz et al. 2001:192). For the present study, some theoretical aspects will be selected that are linked to the symbolic representation of space that compare to and deepen forerunners such as R. Bradley’s analysis of, for instance, the petroglyphs of the British Isles (Bradley 1994). For an archaeologist, rock art is the feasibly best kind of representation that is directly based on the cognition of space of prehistoric people: It is permanent, immovable, usually not underground, clearly recognizable as an artefact, almost universally readable in a denotative sense (if representational and realistic), and, in principle, can be recorded almost completely for a restricted region. There can be no doubt about the location of production and of use. Rock art is the intentional ready product of an articulation of space and identity by people. The relation of space and landscape to issues of identity and social bodies is perhaps best known from Australia. The Dreaming of the Aboriginal people firmly associates places in the land with their own

Space and Discourse as Constituents of Past Identities


coming into being (for example, Berndt and Berndt 1992:137; Lawlor 1991) so that they eventually assert ‘that there is no separation between who we are and where we are’ (Faulstich 2003:3). Stoffle and colleagues (2000, 2003) have shown how narrowly place and ritual are linked among American Indian people and that the observance of the rules of correct local sequencing of rituals is crucial for the rituals’ success. In southern Africa, among the extant San hunter-gatherers, it is the term ‘n!ore’ that expresses the link of person and land. It designates the area where someone is at home and where he or she has the rights of an owner (Marshall 1976:71). Their identity is thus based on specific features of the land, such as the peculiar quality of a waterhole. Colson, writing on the shrines of the Nkoya of Zambia, treats such holes as places of power or, if human made, like a rock art site, as shrines that are important cornerstones of identity since they ‘. . . remind supplicants that they belong to a discrete community occupying space. . . . The local shrines . . . supply named landmarks that define the terrain associated with the community and emphasize its distinctiveness. They serve local residents and those in their immediate vicinity as points of identification with space, around which other sites can be mapped’ (Colson 1997:53). Equal to the vast majority of prehistoric rock art worldwide, the prehistoric art of Namibia can be viewed at daylight in shelters, grottoes, and on plain vertical walls (Lenssen-Erz and Erz 2000:103–14). In regions such as the Brandberg (or ‘Daureb’, its vernacular name, Figure 2.1) mountain in Namibia they are a ubiquitous part of the landscape. The Namibian paintings were mainly made between approximately 2,000 and 4,000 years B.P. by hunter-gatherers (Lenssen-Erz 2001:31–35; Richter 1991:200–13). After the beginning of the Christian era until the sixteenth century, only few human activities can be detected in the mountains. Then settlement activities resumed until they decreased again in the mid-nineteenth century to stop entirely by the beginning of the twentieth century (Breunig 1989, 2003). The recent occupants of the region left rich archaeological residues but no sophisticated rock art (perhaps some finger paintings). However, these people seem to have been strongly attracted by the art, since they clearly preferred painted sites for their camps. Because of eight years of almost uninterrupted fieldwork the late Harald Pager spent with two local assistants in the completely uninhabited wilderness of the Brandberg/Daureb, almost 80% of the rock art of this round inselberg (diameter 30 km) has been fully recorded by detailed copying (Pager 1989, 1993, 1995, 1998, 2000, 2006). The present study draws on roughly one-third of this art documentation, thus dealing with more than 17,000 figures in 327 sites from an area of


Chapter 2

Figure 2.1 Map showing the location of the Brandberg/Daureb, which is separated from the coastline by a 80-km wide strip of the Namib Desert. The research area as indicated here extends over some 20 km in east-west direction.

roughly 135 sq km (Figure 2.1). The art in general is characterised by realistic and naturalistic depictions (Figure 2.2). Animate motifs constitute 75% of the art, wherein again 75% depict humans while 25% are animals, mainly the large game of the wider region (but not of the mountain area itself). Among the 25% of inanimate motifs there are to a very large extent remains and nonrepresentational depictions. Human figures are usually shown in scenes of superficially little specificity, mainly being on the move in single file. Moreover, humans are normally shown together with other humans, whereas animals appear only together with other animals. The only recurrent direct link between the two ‘worlds’ of humans and animals is their appearance on the same walls, to a small part in superpositions, without, however, interaction taking place between them (which is an extremely rare configuration; out of 2,113 analysed scenes only 25 show a combination of humans

Space and Discourse as Constituents of Past Identities


Figure 2.2 Rock art panel from Circus Gorge in the Brandberg showing fairly clear-cut zones of display for animals and humans.

interacting with animals, for example, in a hunt; Lenssen-Erz 2001:171). A marked feature of the human figures is the lack of individualising elements: The type of social identity promoted through the art is apparently more a concept of a ‘person’ than anything else. ‘Zero-marked’ humans (Lenssen-Erz 1998) constitute the bulk of human figures (75%); these are humans without any marked features specifying age, role, rank, status, or sex (Lenssen-Erz 1998, 2001). Only 11% are marked male (by a penis), and 7% are marked female (by breasts), thus reproducing conventional gender identities (another 8% are ‘wigs’; that is, only the hairdress remained of otherwise faded human figures, but, where preservation is adequate, this hairdress may be seen on men and women alike). The analysis of next to 10,000 human figures in the research area showed distinct patterns of activity for the three gender categories (Lenssen-Erz 1998, 2001:106–16). In short, men are mainly shown in association with material cultural items (that is, as a rule, carrying hunting equipment = 51%), whereas of the depicted women only 28% are associated with material goods (containers, sticks). For women, it seemed much more important to show them occupied in communication, which is depicted by means of gestures (55% of women are painted gesticulating, which pertains to only 33% of the men). There is no place


Chapter 2

here to expound further on action based analyses in which it could be extensively demonstrated that the ‘zero-marked’ humans with their activity patterns partly take an intermediate position in between the patterns of men and women, but often they also obtain an extreme position, thus evincing that these figures do not simply form the average of the two conventional sexes but instead represent an autonomous identity (Lenssen-Erz 1998, 2001). In a gross simplification, one might pinpoint the gender roles and the identities thus established as promoted by the art as follows: Men were the specialists of everyday, being competent in everyday, universal reality and causalities; women were the specialists of the extraordinary, being the masters of the symbolic codes with particular competence in the culture-specific realities and causalities, for instance, ritual and ceremonies; the ‘zero-marked’ humans were the generalists of everyday, shown in configurations that again and again contain and apparently promote the ideals of community, equality, and mobility (ibid.). These repetitions give the art a liturgical character, and, since the canon of motifs as well as the combinations of motifs are rather restricted, there are strong indications that producing rock art was either ritual activity itself, was closely linked to it, or it was the result of rituals. This is further corroborated if viewed in the light of ethnographic analogy (for example, Layton 1992; Lewis-Williams 1981; Stoffle et al. 2000). Whatever definition of ritual one adheres to (Mitchell 1996), as an artefact that cannot have a direct physical function such as a stone tool, art will always establish a metaphysical relationship between action and purpose, its causalities – by the logic of rituals – need not follow the universal physical laws. The investigations into the rock art of the Brandberg/Daureb have been sided by archaeological excavations (Breunig 1989, 2003), but this has been restricted to a relatively small number of sites. To qualitatively and quantitatively grasp the presence of artefacts, for each site a form sheet was filled in. Since artefacts of the Later Stone Age, as the period during which most of the art was created, usually remain on the surface, the quantity of these artefacts is a reliable indicator of the intensity of presence of people during the times of rock art production (see also Richter 1991).

The Power of the Place and the Magic of Discourse One does not fully understand prehistoric art if one has not understood the space around it. From the understanding of small spatial units (the sites) grows the understanding of entire landscapes as the spaces for life and use of resources, that is, the lifeworld (Schütz and Luckmann 1975).

Space and Discourse as Constituents of Past Identities


Among the various spatial entities, it is certainly the lifeworld that plays an important role in forming identities. A significant step toward comprehending the sense of space of prehistoric people can be done by reconstructing their mental map. The mental or cognitive map in the understanding of Downs and Stea (1982) can be a structured, physical, or mental representation of a spatial configuration, but here the term should be seen as a metaphor, since instead of a real map in our understanding it stands rather for a plan for spatial behaviour (ibid.:86). A mental map is strongly influenced by the cultural background of a person, and, yet, among people of the same culture, it has individual characteristics. However, the subjective part of it diminishes corresponding to the needs of the mental map to serve for communication purposes. If a mental map contains information for others it has to draw on the codes of the respective society (cf Hyndman 1994). Rock art as a phenomenon lodging immovable in space and thus defining it, can be understood as a metaspace; that is, rock pictures are spatial phenomena that articulate spatial concepts and spatial cognition. They are a spatial phenomenon making an indirect statement on space. Painters and engravers did not choose rocks arbitrarily for their art but because of certain properties and preconception. In the case of shelters and caves, some superficial properties become tangible, and they have to do with space people wanted to use, for instance, as living places. This holds true in small spatial units regarding the distribution of pictures in the site: which character of room was desired, the nature of access, how many observers should be able to view the pictures at one time. In larger units, however, the quantity and distribution of sites with different functional features permit one to set up hypotheses about how the landscape was perceived, conceptualised, and used (Lenssen-Erz 2001). (For an actual collection of approaches towards linking landscape and rock art see Chippindale and Nash 2004.) For example, was it seen primarily as a resource that helped to satisfy the basic needs (Maslow 1970) for food, water, raw materials, living or mobility, or was it rather a source of power in mental, religious, and mythical issues? This apart, as a region that was visited repeatedly and played an important role in the livelihood of the painter people (Breunig 2003; Kinahan 1991), the Brandberg/Daureb landscapes for certain also formed part of the identity of these people – perhaps taking the function of the n!ore as among the recent San (Marshall 1976:71). What is the way of living that we can read from the patterns of use of the spatial configuration? On the one hand, rock art sites communicate unintendedly cognition of space of its creators, whereas, on the other hand, the art is an intentional means of communication and the sites are places of communication, since most of them were living sites.


Chapter 2

Figure 2.3 A rock art site in the Brandberg/Daureb mountains. Approximately 1,000 sites are scattered over an area of some 500 sq km, indicating the comprehensive appropriation of the area by prehistoric people. The study presented here relates to one third of the body.

The role and function of a rock art site (Figure 2.3) are inseparably linked to the communication for which and through which it was designed; space and discourse are interactive constituents of the art’s meaning.

The Brandberg/Daureb Case Study The spatial design of a southern African hunter-gatherer campsite is described by Parkington and Mills (1991:357) as a ‘sociogram of San society’, hence carrying information on societal processes that again, one may add, necessarily involve communication. For them, rock art sites are repositories with ‘socially informed images’ that communicate ‘harmony, belonging, and origins’ (ibid.:362). In front of this background, the distribution and patterns of use of rock art sites can be interpreted in terms of (a) the expressions of identity through spatial behaviour, (b) the communicative processes linked to particular behaviour, and (c) the cognitive map of prehistoric Brandberg/Daureb (Lenssen-Erz and Erz 2000). In the research area of 135 sq km (Figure 2.1), hardly a site is missing from the records (Lenssen-Erz 2001:254–325, 2004; Pager 1989, 1993, 1995; Scherz 1986), so this study takes not only a sample into consideration but instead well over 90% of the extant art.

Space and Discourse as Constituents of Past Identities


With an evaluation of 62 features in 11 categories, the vast variety of sites has been classified in the following 7 classes (the sequence is arbitrary and indicates no hierarchy; Lenssen-Erz 2004:145–46): ■ ■ ■

■ ■ ■ ■

Class A: Landmark or waymark site, located along natural travel routes or near remarkable features along such a route Class B: Short-term living site, small shelters with few human traces, may have been, for example, an overnight station for a small hunting party Class C: Long-term living site, large shelters with a lot of space and useful natural infrastructure nearby, relatively few paintings but ample traces of presumably mundane activities (stone tools, bones, charcoal) Class D: Aggregation camp, similar characteristics to Class C, but significantly more paintings Class E: Casual ritual site, similar to Class B but significantly more paintings Class F: Deliberate ritual site, sites that are clearly larger than Class E but smaller than Class D, with a relatively large number of complex paintings Class G: Sanctuary, hermitage, isolated sites off from the usual natural infrastructure, with unusual depictions

It should be emphasised here that sites will hardly ever have been monofunctional; rather, most of them will also have had functions other than the one under which they are filed (Lenssen-Erz 2001:308). Nevertheless, all sites produced profiles of features that allowed allocating them to one specific class as their primary functional sphere. For an assessment of the variety of sites, one may also take a look at the intensity of painting activities: the average number of paintings per site is 53, but the median lies at 18 figures; that is, half the sites have fewer than 19 figures. The 20 largest sites, making up 6% of the sites in the research area, contain 42% of the paintings, whereas the 163 smallest sites (exactly 50% of all sites) contain only 8% of all paintings (Lenssen-Erz 2001:275). These figures indicate that, on the one hand, the art is highly concentrated, whereas, on the other hand, it is widely scattered in small quantities. Rock art is ubiquitous in the landscape, but its peak power obviously unfolds only in few places. In the discussion to follow, some classes of sites are picked to demonstrate how, via the modelling of discourse based on spatial and contextual analysis, hypotheses as to the social identities of the painters can be forwarded. Rock art sites of Class A, labelled ‘landmark’ or ‘waymark’ (LenssenErz 2001:285, 2004:145), make up 13% of the corpus of sites, and they have the following characteristics: ■ ■ ■

located along natural travel routes no or very poor accommodation no further natural ‘infrastructure’ nearby (for example, water, open field)

38 ■ ■

Chapter 2 near to conspicuous landscape features (for instance, a pass or a saddle in the mountain) few human traces (rock art, artefacts)

Sites of this class are strongly shaped through the natural surroundings; the logic of reference comes from the landscape as the space for mobility and not from the potential of the site and its environs as a place for living. Since these sites do not provide the features that made people stay at other places (for example, shelters), the site itself – that is, the painted rock – is communication, the place is the message. It is not a place to stay at and communicate as at the sites where people camped. Besides the intentional communication through a language of pictures, they too convey information about the use of space and the sense of space of the prehistoric people by signifying certain features of the landscape. Certainly, people would be naming landscape features with special terms in relation to their use when walking the landscape, as the San in Botswana do (Silberbauer 1981:97). But this apart, if we take mobility as the processual appropriation of space and its natural infrastructure (that is, pathways and the like), it seems that Class A sites give a shape to mobility as an asset that played an important role in daily and spiritual life of the prehistoric painters. Bradley and associates (1994) have shown how rock art sites demarcate ‘traffic routes’ through a landscape and ‘emphasise the importance of mobility’ (383). The motifs of the art support this view: 75% of the human figures are mobile, whereas among animals – dependent on species – only about a quarter is shown while moving. This suggests a scenario wherein appropriation of space through mobility was highly ranking; at the same time, we can be sure that the prehistoric painters did not need any ‘traffic signs’, since the abilities for orientation of hunter-gatherers do not require that kind of help (cf, for example, Liebenberg 1990; Silberbauer 1981:198). Rather, rock art sites of Class A, besides being a means for the organisation of space, express a high esteem of pathways and of being-on-the-way. In her work on the Nkoya shrines, E. Colson points out which role can be attributed to the dialectics of mobility and locale: Movement, passing, and boundary-crossing are the very characteristics imputed to the natural forces associated with places of power which relate to the world at large and not to a localized community. Yet natural features that attract veneration are most commonly fixed in space, conveying permanency rather than movement: here, right here, one can expect power to manifest itself. Permanency and immobility are elements of the definition of a shrine. (1997:50)

Mobility is not only a precondition and necessity for the life of hunter-gatherers, but it is also a means of communication. Through

Space and Discourse as Constituents of Past Identities


moving-to one can express nearness and connectedness, whereas going away expresses distance, for example, in order to solve a conflict (which is practised among southern African hunter-gatherers, Marshall 1976:198; Shostak 1981). Accordingly, signifying a rock as a waymark would have been partly an expression of the identity of a hunter-gatherer fostering a nomadic lifestyle and celebrating mobility. It should be emphasised that the art motifs at different types of sites only exceptionally give a hint at the site function, such as site Hungorob 2 (Figure 2.4; Pager 1993:56–57). This is an obvious waymark site on the side of a pass that one has to cross inevitably if climbing the region with the most prolific water pools from the south. Here the depictions show people moving with their gear. Usually, however, one cannot make predictions as to what kind of depiction can be found at a site of a specific function (only exceptions: depictions of women at Class D sites and extraordinarily elaborate and unique technique on motifs at Class G – see below). This adds to the hypothesis that the spatial configuration of a site contributes importantly to its meaning and function – may be more than the art; the great variety of sites has been addressed above, suggesting that they cannot all have had the same function. If now, as is the case in the Brandberg/Daureb, paintings at any given site are chosen from the whole corpus of the art instead of being a selection of specific motifs – hence normally referring to the art’s meaning in total – then the differences between the

Figure 2.4 Site Hungorob 2 is a typical waymark; untypical is the motif that shows people transporting their gear. The leftmost figure is 38 cm tall, painted red.


Chapter 2

sites is not established through the paintings but through the spatial configuration. The next example of rock art sites is Class E, which attain a ratio of 33% among all sites, being labelled ‘casual ritual sites’ based on the following characteristics (Lenssen-Erz 2001:286, 2004:146): ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

rather small site mediocre accommodation facilities (level roofed area not sufficient for more than five people) mediocre access to natural ‘infrastructure’ low intensity of usage medium to high number of paintings (> 50 figures) rather complex paintings public presentation of art

With this pattern of characteristics, Class E sites are places that fit very well into the daily conduct of life of prehistoric hunter-gatherers in all its facets (Lenssen-Erz 2001:318–20, 2004). Sites of this type are not distributed in concentrations but can be found in a rather homogeneous scatter all over the mountain area. They materialised in no particular local environment or ‘neighbourhood’; they were ad-hoc creations that could become real according to an unforeseen natural, social, or ritual necessity. Judging by the relatively small quantity of artefacts, they were places for short-term living. But compared to this rather low intensity of mundane usage, the traces of ritual activities (that is, paintings) are fairly numerous. Consequently, these sites did not serve only for staying but had a function as hot spots of communication among people as well as among other world beings. The communicative function is enhanced by the fact that they are almost never isolated or far away from the natural travel routes; that is, they lie amidst daily life. Class E sites respond particularly well to the usual patterns of behaviour and mobility of hunter-gatherer groups. While on their nomadic trips in small groups (around 15–20 people as the estimated minimum number of members of a hunter-gatherer group that can survive over long periods under problematic ecological conditions – see Lenssen-Erz 2001:267–68 for a list of references on this issue), they may have camped at such a site for a short while of no more than a few days. Rituals taking place here were largely the result of unexpected necessities or opportunities. These were not the places for special, well-prepared rituals such as initiations or other rites de passage; more likely they were spontaneous, like healing or rainmaking (cf Stoffle et al. 2000:22). The communicative character of the rituals could easily have involved the whole group by way of a public mode of presentation of the art. This suggests a scenario wherein rituals were the continuation of everyday discourses into formalized, ritual discourses (Tanaka 1980:113). As among the recent

Space and Discourse as Constituents of Past Identities


San of southern Africa, the leisurely playing and chatting may turn into a common singing that eventually ends as a common ritual dance (Biesele 1993:75), be it for healing, rainmaking, or just to celebrate the presence of powers. Marshall-Thomas (1988:141–42) reports the example of the !Kung San who started a rain dance because they knew rain was coming (of which the surprised anthropologists were not aware); thus they could celebrate the powers of the rain coincidentally becoming available. They would not believe that their dancing could generate rain on demand. The likely starting point for the ritual activity at a Class E site would have been discourses without a predefined frame that can touch on any topic and in which there is no control over who participates or who is entitled to contribute, since they originate at a place of everyday (a campsite) and presumably in situations of everyday (Tanaka 1980:78). Such discourses can be the background to routine activities of everyday, which is why they are unpredictable and open ended. According to this scenario, one can conclude that these were the sites where identity was negotiated, established, or confirmed on the level of the band without excluding anyone. All members of the group would have participated and would thus have shared their sense of identity with the others. The contradictory option that these were sites of exclusive identities by, for instance, declaring them as a taboo for certain people, is particularly unlikely, since, owing to the wide scatter of this class of sites in consequence, almost the entire region would have been inaccessible to those to whom the taboo applied (see Lenssen-Erz 2001:428, map XXVII). Instead, masses of artefacts and the customary use of shelters for habitation point out that the whole landscape seems to have been used as a complete lifeworld for all. As a contrast to the sites just mentioned, one may list the sites of Class D identified as ‘aggregation camps’ (Lenssen-Erz 2001:285–86, 2004:146). They attain only a ratio of 2% among the sites of the research area, but they account for 15% of the rock paintings, and their identification is unambiguous owing to the following features: ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

large living sites a lot of open areas in the immediate surroundings masses of paintings and of other artefacts (stone tools, pottery, ostrich eggshell) strong emphasis on women in the paintings high intensity of usage good natural ‘infrastructure’ many small satellite-sites in the near vicinity

When analysing activity patterns in the rock art, one notices that, in contrast to patterns observed among twentieth-century San of southern


Chapter 2

Africa, women seem to have played an active and leading role in ritual dances of prehistoric times (Lenssen-Erz 1998, 2001). This is suggested by the ratio of women in coordinated, non-everyday gestures and body postures (which could be labelled ‘dancing’), which is between 50%–100% higher than that of men (depending on the type of gesture, Lenssen-Erz 2001:125). In Class D sites there is a basically ‘female’ character owing to the emphasis on women in the pictures (the ratio of women against men is up to three times higher in these sites than in broad average, Lenssen-Erz 2001). Moreover, the entire setting of Class D sites contributes to the identity of women as evoked through the art. This identity suggests that they were the custodians, as it were, of the community and the masters of the social codes – in a complementary analogy to the men among the twentieth century !Kung San, who were labelled ‘masters of meat’ and ‘owners of hunting’ (Marshall 1976:178; on another dichotomic view of the male and the female sphere see Biesele 1993:79–81). The social codes may have included language, songs, dance, ritual, ceremonies, and not at least also painting. Because of the wide social effects of this all-encompassing ability to communicate, not only may women have occupied themselves with ‘women’s affairs’ (Marshall 1976:179), but likely they also established and stabilized the links between the members of single groups and between groups. This role they could best attain during the large aggregations, where they could lead the ‘big’ discourses. Accordingly, aggregations at Class D sites could have been in as much a market for communication as a medium for the stabilization of large social bodies (for example, from various central Kalahari San groups see Guenther 1986:173; Silberbauer 1981:179–80; Tanaka 1980:30). Discourses led at these sites likely were preconceived through the symbolic power of the place (evinced by the outstanding number of depictions); everyone coming to a Class D site would have been aware of the special status of the locus (cf Stoffle et al. 2000:22–23). Form and content of communication and behaviour would have been strongly regulated through conventions; these were the places where the cultural knowledge with all its rules of conduct between all agents of the physical and metaphysical world was implemented. Probably they were places well known to everyone in prehistoric times – comparable to a cathedral in European context – and it was not only possible to agree on a meeting at such a place in advance, but it was also important to meet there for the maintenance of the social networks and the care for the social capital (see Lenssen-Erz 2001:270 for several references on this issue relating to the Kalahari San). The identity that people may have sensed and fostered during meetings at Class D sites was at the most encompassing level owing to recourse to the whole cultural knowledge in exchange

Space and Discourse as Constituents of Past Identities


with social partners coming from remote places. Such an identity would have been that of a clan or, even more general, that of a forager. As a final example, Class G is presented here (14% of the whole corpus of sites); sites in this class are labelled ‘sanctuary, hermitage’ (Lenssen-Erz 2001:286, 2004:146). However, these terms are meant rather to stir associations than to be final definitions of site function. The characteristics of Class G are these: ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

special position (vantage point providing panoramic views of wide stretches of the landscape) isolated location partly difficult access peculiar rock formation (for example, cavelike seclusion) small number of artefacts little intensity of usage disadvantageous natural ‘infrastructure’ few but extraordinary depictions (motifs or styles that occur only once or very rarely) roofed area for only very few people, no open area outside pictures relating to inner room of site, private mode of presentation

Although there are no deep and dark caves in the Brandberg/Daureb, sites of Class G (Lenssen-Erz 2001:321–23) may be the only ones that could partially be compared with the palaeolithic art caves in Europe. As is obvious in a deep cave also in sites of Class G, a certain introvertedness and deprivation were obviously desired, and a liminal position between inside and outside was advocated. Apparently, the ‘consumer’ of the art should concentrate on the inside of the shelter, that is, the unconventional depictions that can be found in there (for example, rain giraffe, richly decorated ‘medicine men’ Figure 2.5). These special pictures stand for a special part of the cultural knowledge. The character of Class G is dialectic, since at the sites with their elevated and remote location one was withdrawn from the natural infrastructure of the landscape and therewith from its live-giving assets; however, sensually one was almost ‘supreme’ to it, which was emphasized through the often-attained vantage point of such sites – the landscape was a somehow abstract (re-)source ‘out there’. Apparently, neither the natural infrastructure nor other features that are advantageous for a stay (such as open area, water resources, and neighbouring sites) were of importance. A scenario for Class G sites suggests that they were focal points of a discourse too complex to link it to the immediate surroundings and to the everyday. More than any other of the seven classes of rock art sites, those labelled ‘sanctuary, hermitage’ seem to be suited for initiations (Barnard 1992). Their location, the motifs with their extraordinary character, the private mode of presentation of the art (see, for example, Bahn 2003), low intensity of


Chapter 2

Figure 2.5 Paintings of such complexity are exceptional in the Brandberg/ Daureb rock art and are typical of sites with properties of a ‘hermitage, sanctuary’ (left human 25 cm tall).

usage chiefly for the ritual purposes of art production (few ‘mundane’ artefacts but elaborate paintings), and finally the disadvantageous surroundings are all indications that mainly contemplative and meditative religious and ritual activities and discourses seem to have taken place here. These sites were retreats that were not directly connected to the secular use of the landscape as habitat and resource. Also, social events at Class G sites did not involve many people, since most of them do not provide enough space; rather there was a clear selection and control of those who visited these places (for instance, through a dangerous ascent) and how long they could stay. The length of stay, for example, can be concluded from the natural ‘infrastructural weakness’ of the surroundings of Class G sites, where water supply usually is problematic. However, for a planned visit with predefined duration of stay, this lack of water is no obstacle. This, in turn, would match an initiation (Barnard and Spencer 1996), and accordingly the sojourn at a Class G site would have taken place in a context that strengthened the identity of a person as belonging, for instance, to a certain age class or to a certain sex. The notion of the power of the place and the magic of discourse forms a bracket that embraces especially these sites labelled ‘sanctuaries, hermitages’, and in this may even help us to understand the Palaeolithic picture caves of Europe. There seems to be an anthropological constancy that characterizes places with a nonmundane function – characteristics

Space and Discourse as Constituents of Past Identities


that can be found even in the most modern architecture (Lenssen-Erz and Neubig 2003). The specific features are these: ■ ■ ■ ■

restriction of access or the possibility of access control through infrastructural properties (either natural or artificial) unusual shape of room ‘interaction’ of place and landscape (mastering view of the landscape) deliberate utilization of an inner, secluded space

Especially in the introvertedness the kind of discourse being led at such a place becomes discernible: such discourse is related to an interior, that is, to the deepest personal levels of knowing and with it to the entire wealth of cultural knowledge. Also here, the link to initiation is evident, which serves the ultimate introduction into the cosmology of a society. It appears as though thinking back to and reconfirming the own cultural knowledge – particularly in view of identity and the genealogy linked to it – are effectively achieved in a spatial sphere with dialectic character (Lenssen-Erz and Neubig 2003): On the one hand, there is spatial secludedness with a certain deprivation from sensory stimuli; on the other hand, there is an almost mastering view of the landscape as the physical milieu of the lifeworld. Yet the landscape is no priority in this process; it constitutes a fully present background that is visually directly accessible from the sites. In these contexts, landscape is much more than a resource (which it is in other classes of sites), but it is like a map at scale 1:1 (however, unlike Eco 1997) that is strongly loaded symbolically. Being signified by rock art makes the landscape significant. This fact applies particularly in those sites that provided a comprehensive command of all aspects of the landscape; it was in these places where discourses on the substance of landscape, human identity, and the cosmos probably took place.

Conclusion Following the allocation of a primary function to each of the 327 sites according to the classification listed here, a pattern of usage can be discerned. This pattern hypothesizes about the cognitive map of the prehistoric people. Their perception of the natural components they encountered and the options for behaviour they could choose result in one out of many possible mental maps of the mountain area. In the following, a scenario is modelled that is based on the properties of a fictive average site (which, of course, has many features of Class E, since this class dominates the corpus of sites). Such a site induces the performance of ‘average behaviour’ for the painter people, that is,


Chapter 2

the behaviour and actions that normally would have occurred. The behavioural pattern that emerges comprises these components: ■

The Brandberg/Daureb was a landscape in which people found the resources to satisfy their basic needs (after Maslow 1970), so they went here first of all to exploit the natural infrastructure; People moved around in small groups and kept a high intensity of mobility, which made them change camp every few days. This can be concluded from the averagely low intensity of use of the sites and the restrictedness of resources in the vicinity; There seem to have existed a constant readiness and a constant need to become ritually active; the result of these activities can be seen in rock art (cf Toupal et al. 2001:175); As a rule, rock art was a public issue, so that whole groups could be included in the production and the use of the art.

This pattern of behaviour is based on specific mental conditions that are associated with not just any kind of discourse related to the entire lifeworld. Apparently, prehistoric people saw the Brandberg/Daureb not only as a resource and an advantageous ecosystem but also as a system that can fall into crisis. The rainy season may be a complete failure any year, and in the whole of central Namibia there is no perennial open water. The Brandberg/Daureb is the most advantageous ecosystem in a surroundings of thousands of square kilometres, but it may also be hit by drought, being a region that at present receives no more than at average 100 mm of precipitation per year. This situation would not have been much different at any time since 5,000 B.P. (Deacon and Lancaster 1988; Gil-Romera 2006; see also Lenssen-Erz 2001:27–29 for more references), so that the landscape in which their identity was rooted always implied the negation of this identity and existence. Accordingly, the mental condition of the people may often have been in a critical state, and the stability of the group, which is a guarantee for survival, became labile. Therefore, prehistoric people developed the following strategy against the multiple crisis (a crisis in the ecosystem affecting their identity basis and potentially resulting in additional crisis in their social system): ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

restriction of group size high mobility increased ritual activity formalized communal activities liturgic repetition of the central values ‘community, equality, mobility’ (Lenssen-Erz 2001)

Activities and mental condition were not born from the moment, but they were patterns that to a large extent were preconceived and

Space and Discourse as Constituents of Past Identities


controlled by the mental map, since this map shapes the view on the options that one has in a landscape for living (see, for example, Diamond 2004 on Norse settlers in Greenland). Nevertheless, the mental map was probably under constant revision and adaptation. The picture people had in mind was the landscape as a whole, but it was neither a two-dimensional sheet nor a chaotic complex, which is difficult to overlook and hard to grasp. Rather, people configured it with landmarks of a special type, namely, rock art sites. Not only in the Brandberg/Daureb but probably worldwide at all times people made a landscape ‘good to think’ by ‘mapping’ on it their identity mediated through signs of their highly esteemed values, such as mobility, social relations and interaction, and religiosity as well as mythical and historical epistemes. All these are different discourses that may be led separately or overlapping. The multitude of meanings of a landscape (cf Stoffle et al. 2003 on ‘layered landscapes’) is ‘mapped’ through a variety of sites being the tokens of a likewise great variety of discourses and identities. Accordingly, the signs of these discourses can also be found separately as well as overlapping in the rock art sites and in the landscape. As is the case today in any given society, also in the prehistoric past identities were not labels that fit once and forever. Rather, identities and the symbols that represented them were chosen context-related ones, which again was largely defined through space and discourse. Identities underlie a constant dynamics of redefinition through social interaction, which we find inscribed in the landscape in rock art.

Acknowledgments Research into the rock art of the Brandberg/Daureb has been funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. I thank the editors for their efforts in compiling this volume and the anonymous reviewers for their constructive remarks; however, all remaining errors are my own responsibility.

References Anschuetz, K. F., R. H. Wilshusen, and C. L. Scheick. 2001. ‘An archaeology of landscapes: Perspectives and directions’, Journal of Archaeological Research 9(2):157–211. Bahn, P. 2003. ‘Location, location: What can the positioning of cave and rock art reveal about Ice Age motivations’. In G. C. Weniger and A. Pastoors (eds.), Cave art and space: Archaeological and architectural perspectives / Höhlenkunst und Raum: Archäologische und architektonische Perpektiven. Mettmann: Neanderthal Museum, 11–20. Barnard, A. 1992. Hunters and Herders of Southern Africa, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Chapter 2

Barnard, A., and J. Spencer. 1996. ‘Rites of passage’. In A. Barnard and J. Spencer (eds.), Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology. London: Routledge, 489–90. Berndt, R. M., and C. H. Berndt. 1992. The World of the First Australians. Aboriginal Traditional Life: Past and Present. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press. Biesele, M. 1993. Women Like Meat – The Folklore and Foraging Ideology of the Kalahari Ju’hoan. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press. Bradley, R. 1994. ‘Symbols and signposts – Understanding the prehistoric petroglyphs of the British Isles’. In C. Renfrew and E. B. W. Zubrow (eds.), The Ancient Mind – Elements of Cognitive Archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 95–106. Bradley, R., F. C. Boado, and R. F. Valcarce. 1994. ‘Rock art research as landscape archaeology: A pilot study in Galicia, northwest Spain’, World Archaeology 25(3):374–90. Breunig, P. 1989. ‘Archaeological investigations into the settlement history of the Brandberg’. In H. Pager (ed.), The Rock Paintings of the Upper Brandberg, Part I – Amis Gorge. Köln: Heinrich-Barth-Institut, 17–45. ———. 2003. Der Brandber: Untersuchungen zur Besiedlungsgeschichte eines Hochgebirges in Namibia. Köln: Heinrich-Barth-Institut. Chippindale, C., and G. Nash. 2004. The Figured Landscapes of Rock-Art, Looking at Pictures in Places. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Colson, E. 1997. ‘Places of power and shrines of the land’, Paideuma 43:47–57. Deacon, J., and N. Lancaster. 1988. Late Quarternary Palaeoenvironments of Southern Africa. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Diamond, J. 2004. Collapse – How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. New York: Viking. Downs, R. M., and D. Stea. 1982. Kognitive Karten: Die Welt in unseren Köpfen. New York: Harper and Row [English: Downs, R. M., and D. Stea. 1977. Maps in Minds: Reflections on Cognitive Mapping. New York: Harper and Row]. Eco, U. 1997. ‘Die Karte des Reiches im Maßstab 1:1’. In P. Bianchi and S. Folie (eds.), Atlas Mapping. Wien: Turia und Kant, 228–31. Faulstich, P. 2003. ‘Dreaming the country and burning the land: Rock art and ecological knowledge’, Before Farming 2003 3/3:1–13. Gil-Romera, G. 2006. Reconstrucción paleoambiental de la frontera oriental del desierto del Namib (Namibia). Palinología de letrinas fósiles de damán, Unpubl. PhD thesis, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. Guenther, M. 1986. The Nharo Bushmen of Botswana – Tradition and Change. Hamburg: Helmut Buske Verlag. Hyndman, D. C. 1994. ‘Back to the future: Trophy arrays as mental maps in the Wopkaimin’s culture of place’. In R. Willis (ed.), Signifying Animals – Human Meaning in the Natural World. London: Routledge, 63–73. Keyser, J. D., and G. Poetschat. 2004. ‘The canvas as the art: Landscape analysis of the rock-art panel’. In C. Chippindale and G. Nash (eds.), The Figured Landscapes of RockArt. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 118–30. Kinahan, J. 1991. Pastoral Nomads of the Central Namib Desert: The People History Forgot. Namibia: New Namibia Books. Lawlor, R. 1991. Voices of the First Day – Awakening in the Aboriginal Dreamtime. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions. Layton, R. 1992. Australian Rock Art: A New Synthesis, Cambridge. New York: Cambridge University Press. Layton, R., and P. Ucko. 1999. ‘Introduction: Gazing on the landscape and encountering the environment’. In P. Ucko and R. Layton (eds.), The Archaeology and Anthropology of Landscape. London: Routledge, 1–20. Lenssen-Erz, T. 1998. ‘The third gender: Human. Gender-related patterns of activity in the rock paintings of the Brandberg, Namibia’. In A. Banks, H. Heese, and C. Loff (eds.), The Proceedings of the Khoisan Cultures & Cultural Heritage Conference. Cape Town: Cape Town, Infosource, 146–52.

Space and Discourse as Constituents of Past Identities


Lenssen-Erz, T. 2001. Gemeinschaft – Gleichheit – Mobilität: Felsbilder im Brandberg, Namibia, und ihre Bedeutung. Köln: Heinrich-Barth-Institut. ———. 2004. ‘The landscape setting of rock-painting sites in the Brandberg (Namibia): Infrastructure, Gestaltung, use and meaning’. In C. Chippindale and G. Nash (eds.), The Figured Landscapes of Rock-Art. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 131–50. Lenssen-Erz, T., and M. T. Erz. 2000. Brandberg – Der Bilderberg Namibias. Stuttgart: Thorbecke. Lenssen-Erz, T., and J. Neubig. 2003. ‘Augenblick und Ewigkeit, Raum und Diskurs: Artefakte der prähistorischen Kunst Namibias und die Arteplage in Murten, Expo.02 in der Schweiz’. In A. Pastoors and G. C.Weniger (eds.), Höhlenkunst und Raum: Archäologische und architektonische Perspektiven – Cave Art and Space: Archaeological and Architectural Perspectives. Mettman: Neanderthal Museum, 74–90. Lewis-Williams, D. 1981. Believing and Seeing. London: Academic Press. Lewis-Williams, D., and T. Dowson. 1990. ‘Through the veil: San Rock Paintings and the Rock Face’, The South African Archaeological Bulletin 45:5–16. Liebenberg, L. 1990. The Art of Tracking – The Beginning of Science. Claremont: David Philip. Marshall, L. 1976. The !Kung of Nyae Nyae. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Marshall-Thomas, E. 1988. The Harmless People. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. Maslow, A. 1970. Motivation and Personality. New York: Harper. Mitchell, J. P. 1996. ‘Ritual’. In A. Barnard and J. Spencer (eds.), Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology. London: Routledge, 490–93. Pager, H. 1989. The Rock Paintings of the Upper Brandberg, Part I – Amis Gorge. Köln: Heinrich-Barth-Institut. ———. 1993. The Rock Paintings of the Upper Brandberg, Part II – Hungorob Gorge. Köln: Heinrich-Barth-Institut. ———. 1995. The Rock Paintings of the Upper Brandberg, Part III – Southern Gorges. Köln: Heinrich-Barth-Institut. ———. 1998. The Rock Paintings of the Upper Brandberg, Part IV – Umuab and Karoab Gorges. Köln: Heinrich-Barth-Institut. ———. 2000. The Rock Paintings of the Upper Brandberg, Part V – Naib Gorge (A) and the Northwest. Köln: Heinrich-Barth-Institut. ———. 2006. The Rock Paintings of the Upper Brandberg, Part VI – Naib (B), Circus and Dom Gorges. Köln: Heinrich-Barth-Institut. Parkington, J., and G. Mills. 1991. ‘From space to place: The architecture and social organisation of southern African mobile communities’. In C. S. Gamble and W. A. Boismier (eds.), Ethnoarchaeological Approaches to Mobile Campsites – Hunter-Gatherer and Pastoralist Case Studies. Ann Arbor, MI: International Monographs in Prehistory, 355–70. Richter, J. 1991. Studien zur Urgeschichte Namibias. Köln: Heinrich-Barth-Institut. Ricoeur, P. 1979. ‘The Model of the text: Meaningful action considered as a text’. In P. Rabinow and W. M. Sullivan (eds.), Interpretive Social Science. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. Scherz, E. R. 1986. Felsbilder in Südwest-Afrika, Teil III, Die Malereien. Köln: Böhlau. Schütz, A., and T. Luckmann. 1975. Strukturen der Lebenswelt. Neuwied: Luchterhand (English: The Structures of the Lifeworld [translated by R. M. Zaner and H. T. Engehardt]. Evanston: Northwestern University Press). Shostak, M. 1981. Nisa, The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Silberbauer, G. 1981. Hunter and Habitat in the Central Kalahari Desert. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Stoffle, R. W., L. Loendorf, D. E. Austin, D. B. Halmo, and A. Bulletts. 2000. ‘Ghost dancing the Grand Canyon – Southern Paiute rock art ceremony and cultural landscapes’, Current Anthropology 41(1):11–38.


Chapter 2

Stoffle, R. W., R. S. Toupal, and M. N. Zedeno. 2003. ‘Landscape, nature, and culture: A diachronic model of human-nature adaptations’. In H. Selin (ed.), Nature Across Cultures: Views of Nature and the Environment in Non-Western Cultures. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 97–114. Swartz, B. K., Jr, and T. S. Hurlbutt. 1994. ‘Space, place and territory in rock art interpretation’, Rock Art Research 11:13–22. Tanaka, J. 1980. The San Hunter-Gatherers of the Kalahari. Tokyo: Tokyo University Press. Tilley, C. 1991. ‘Interpreting material culture’. In I. Hodder (ed.), The Meanings of Things – Material Culture and Symbolic Expression. London: Harper Collins Academic, 185–94. Toupal, R. S., M. N. Zedeño, R. W. Stoffle, and P. Barabe. 2001. ‘Cultural landscapes and ethnographic cartographies: Scandinavian-American and American Indian knowledge of the land’, Environmental Science and Policy 4:171–84.

CHAPTER 3 Rocks of Ages: Petroglyphs, Pictographs, and Identity in Puerto Rico Peter G. Roe and Michele H. Hayward

Prehistoric Puerto Rican Rock Art and Its Cultural Context Within the Caribbean, Puerto Rico enjoys a unique proliferation of rock art; carved and painted images are recorded for some 500 locations on an island 64 by 178 kilometers. The number of images per sites varies, ranging from as little as one to over one hundred petroglyphs, pictographs, or a combination of those two types of lithoglyphic expression. The first type predominates among the images and can be found along waterways, in caves or other types of rock surfaces, on stone slabs aligning ball courts or plazas, and on beach rock. Pictographs are confined to caves (Alvarado Zayas 1999; Dubelaar, Hayward, and Cinquino 1999:2; Hayward, Cinquino, and Steinback 2002). One reason for this proliferation relates to the island’s abundance of lithic raw materials. Over 1,300 waterways ranging from large, permanent rivers to small, seasonal streams descend from the central cordillera and empty into the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Numerous large and small boulders lie within or adjacent to the rivers and streams, serving as canvases for the carved images (Dubelaar, Hayward, and Cinquino 1999:2–3). Puerto Rico also possesses extensive and complex karst topography that includes limestone cone-shaped hills that dot the northern coast, honeycombed with caves, sinkholes, rock shelters, and labyrinthine cavern systems (Picó 1974:28–30, 34–37). The cavern systems contain numerous solution pits, stalagmites, and stalactites that again offer surfaces for human-imagined images. Caribbean ball courts and plazas comprise rectangular, square or oval/circular enclosures of level, prepared earthen surfaces. They can be either partially or completely lined with a varying arrangement of stones and earthen embankments, or unmarked. These structures are considered to have served ceremonial and secular functions, such as the playing of a ball game and holding public dances (Alegría 1983; 51


Chapter 3

Oliver 1998; Rouse 1992). For Puerto Rico, Alegría (1983:115–17) lists 72 sites and reports that petroglyphs are commonly found on the stone slabs aligning the enclosures. A few locations contain more than one structure, including Caguana in the central mountainous interior with 11 to 12 (Alegría 1983:66–88, 115; Oliver 1998:6–27). Their construction on Puerto Rico appears to begin around 600 C.E. with a period of maximum growth from 1200 to 1500 C.E. (Alegría 1983:117; Oliver 1998:29, 34–46; Rouse 1992:52, 107, 116). Petroglyphs carved into beach rock have been reported from only two sites on the island, with the highest number of images associated with Maisabel, a large settlement on the north coast (Dubelaar, Hayward, and Cinquino 1999:5). Roe (1991) documented thirty-two petroglyphs, which were incised horizontally into the bedding planes of lithified dune formations fronting the site. Although occupation at Maisabel begins by 100 B.C.E., all save one of the petroglyphs are directly associated with the subsequent expansion of the settlement 600–1200 C.E. Ceramics and lithics dating to 600–800 C.E. were embedded in the same sandstone formation immediately beneath the petroglyphs. Puerto Rico’s rock art may be organized into a three-fold classification scheme of anthropomorphic, zoomorphic, and abstract figures, along with combinations of these three classes. Within this system, anthropomorphic designs make up the most frequently occurring type of figures. The images range from simple to complex faces, with or without body elements. Simple humanlike faces can be denoted via a combination of unenclosed two to three pits/circles and dashes (Figure 3.1a), or by partially or wholly enclosing these elements (Figure 3.1b). An example of a complex face comes from the Cueva de Mora site, where a heart-shaped face sports encircling headgear and a stylized indication of a lower body (Figure 3.1c) (Dubelaar, Hayward, and Cinquino 1999:7–8). Body elements attached to faces vary from minimal to elaborately drawn. One example from Piedra Escrita takes the form of two curved lines on opposing sides of a straight line, possibly suggesting arms and legs, below an encircled pitted-eyed, ovoid-eared, and top-hatted face (Figure 3.1d). A pictograph from the Cueva de Mora site illustrates a recurrent motif: the wrapped or enclosed body image (Figure 3.1e). This figure possesses a tabular-eared face with two pitted eyes and an elongated nose and dashed mouth. The body forms a rectangle without any appendages and is filled with multiple horizontal and vertical lines. Zoomorphic forms frequently include bats, turtles, and birds (Figure 3.2a, b), while common abstract designs comprise spirals and intertwining half-circles (Figure 3.2c, d) (Dubelaar, Hayward, and Cinquino 1999:8–9).

Rocks of Ages





4 in

0 2 4 6 8 10 cm PETROGLYPH Río Guacio Municipio of Las Marias Puerto Rico






4 in

0 2 4 6 8 10 cm PETROGLYPH Cueva del Indio Municipio of Las Piedras Puerto Rico



4 in

0 2 4 6 8 10 cm PETROGLYPH Cueva de Mora Municipio of Comerío Puerto Rico

e) PICTOGRAPH Cueva de Mora Municipio of Comerío Puerto Rico PETROGLYPH Piedra Escrita Municipio of Jayuya Puerto Rico 0 2 4 in 0 2 4 6 8 10 cm 0 0

8 8


16 in 24


40 cm

Figure 3.1 Selected anthropomorphic images from various rock art sites in Puerto Rico (Hayward, Meléndez, and Ramos 1992a, b: Figures a, b, d; Roe, Rivera, and DeScioli 1999: Figures c, e).

This corpus of rock art also needs to be placed within the island’s prehistoric cultural context. Briefly outlined, Rouse (1992:Figures 14 and 15) has developed a commonly followed chronological framework for the Caribbean that relies on associations among ceramics, other artefact classes, and radiocarbon dates. Table 3.1 presents a modified version of Rouse’s time/space continuum for Puerto Rico (1992:Figure 14).


Chapter 3





4 in 0

0 2 4 6 8 10 cm PICTOGRAPH Cueva de Mora Municipio of Comerío Puerto Rico



4 in

0 2 4 6 8 10 cm PETROGLYPH Maisabel Municipio of Vega Baja Puerto Rico




4 in

0 2 4 6 8 10 cm PETROGLYPH Quebrada Maracuto Municipio of Carolina Puerto Rico



4 in

0 2 4 6 8 10 cm PETROGLYPH Piedra Escrita Municipio of Jayuya Puerto Rico

Figure 3.2 Selected zoomorphic and abstract images from various rock art sites in Puerto Rico (Roe, Rivera, and DeScioli 1999: Figure a; Roe 1991: Figure b; Hayward, Meléndez, and Ramos 1992: Figures c and d).

It contains the chronological period, calendric dates, and two parallel nomenclatures for the peoples or cultures of the period subdivisions. The limited number of Lithic Age sites in Puerto Rico suggests that people primarily manufactured flaked lithic tools including blades and scrapers, heavily relied for food on the gathering of close-to-shore marine resources supplemented by wild plants, and lived in small, short-term or seasonal but revisited settlements. They may have been

Rocks of Ages Table 3.1


Cultural chronology of Puerto Rico

Chronological Period

Calendric Dates

Culture/People Sequence 1

Sequence 2

Lithic age complexes Archaic cultures

Lithic age complexes Archaic cultures Early Saladoid Epi-Saladoid

Lithic age

4000–2000 B.C.E

Archaic period

2000–300 B.C.E

Early ceramic First phase

300 B.C.E–350/400 C.E

Early Saladoid

350/400–600 C.E

Late Saladoid

600–900 C.E

Early Ostionoid Late Ostionoid Later/latest Ostionoid Classic Taíno

Second phase Late ceramic First phase Second phase Contact period Contact period

900–1200 C.E 1200–1500 C.E 1500–1524 C.E

Epi-Saladoid Pre-Taíno Taíno Historic Taíno

organized into bands that arrived from Cuba and Hispaniola initially via Central America (Hayward and Cinquino 1999:3/4–3/5; Newsom and Wing 2004; Rodríguez 1999). In contrast, the most likely point of origin for the succeeding Archaic Period peoples is the South American mainland, Trinidad, or both, following northward along the Lesser Antillean island chain. Groundstone, bone, and shell artefacts, along with an absence of pottery, characterize this period’s material cultural assemblages. Considerable local variation within overall shared subsistence and settlement patterns is evident. Subsistence appears to have been based on the easy exploitation of marine resources such as shellfish and reef fish through fishing and gathering, supplemented by the hunting or gathering of land animals and plant foods. Occupation of the sites, consisting mainly of shell middens on or near the coasts, was probably by small groups for short or recurrent periods (Hayward and Cinquino 1999:3/5–3/9; Newsom and Wing 2004). A new wave of people or groups, leaving the lowland tropical forest region of the Orinoco as well as interior and coastal river basins of Venezuela and Guiana and passing up the Lesser Antillean island chain, reach Puerto Rico circa 300 B.C.E. These Saladoid peoples bring with them a pottery-making tradition, settled village life, and horticulture. Thin-walled pottery with a variety of plastic elements and painted designs are manufactured, in addition to intricately carved


Chapter 3

and polished beads, amulets, and pendants from stone, shell, coral, and bone. The dietary base is widened to include cultivation of various plants such as manioc. Settlements are located near the shoreline, coastal plain, and alluvial valleys, implying that groups were exploiting a variety of habitats. A common internal arrangement appears to be one of mounded middens arranged in a rough circle around an open central area with or without a cemetery. Saladoid groups appear to have been relatively egalitarian. They may have been organized into segmentary ‘Big-Man’ local political units where kinship ties served to integrate these polities into multi-community groupings (Hayward and Cinquino 1999:3/9–3/18; Newsom and Wing 2004). The Late Ceramic period is marked by the intensification of the sociopolitical organization, increased economic diversity, expansion of plant food production, and population growth. The number of ceramic styles also increases, coupled with a simplification in design and manufacture that began by the second phase of the Early Ceramic. A similar trend is noted for the production of personal adornment items including beads and pendants. The number and type of settlements increase and expand into new interior locations (Hayward and Cinquino 1999:3/14, 3/18–3/23; Newsom and Wing 2004). European descriptions of Caribbean native societies enrich reconstructions of the Classic or Historic Period Taínos. Settlements were permanent, averaging from 1,000 to 2,000 people whose subsistence was primarily based on agriculture. Chroniclers reported that the people were divided into two classes: the elite nitaíno and the commoner naboria. For Puerto Rico, a complex chiefdom was in place whose leaders or caciques were responsible for a number of functions including organizing daily activities and serving as religious functionaries. Native populations held the view that the invisible world was populated by spirits or zemis of gods, people’s ancestors, and natural features such as trees and rocks – hence the term ‘zemism’ for their religion. Religious specialists, termed behiques or ‘shamans’, undertook a variety of curing and magicoreligious ceremonies, were considered to be mediators between the everyday and spirit worlds, and played a key role in the interpretation of native cosmology (Newsom and Wing 2004; Rouse 1992). Post-Saladoid cultural development on Puerto Rico is viewed as largely resulting from internal dynamics. Although dating of Puerto Rican rock art remains problematic, Roe (1991, 2005; Roe and Rivera 1995) has developed a promising approach to the relative ordering of the island’s image assemblages. This relative ordering rests on two component underpinnings – the selection of three

Rocks of Ages


rock art assemblages with secure dating and the statistical technique of seriation. Ceramics and lithics embedded beneath the beach petroglyphs of Maisabel provided a definite beginning date of 800 C.E. for the execution of these images that likely extended until circa 1000 C.E. Anthropomorphic and zoomorphic images carved on rock slabs or boulders aligning ball courts from the sites of El Bronce and Caguana form the middle and latest assemblages. These ‘menhirs’, or large freestanding boulders with frontal or front-facing incised petroglyphs, are associated with ceramics dating to circa 1100–1200 C.E. and 1300–1400 C.E., respectively. Once the relative ordering of the rock art groupings had been established, Roe (1991) undertook a componential analysis of the anthropomorphic images from the three sites. The figures were broken down into individual design elements such as rounded, circular, or heartshaped dimensions for head shape as well as nineteen other body parts. The exercise yielded sets of modes comprising the relative frequencies of the dimensions for each of the twenty body parts. The individual design elements can be viewed as having been recombined by the native rock art producers into motifs including simple faces and those with enclosed bodies, and design layouts of multiple connected images. The analysis not only aided in the interpretation of the rock art groupings; it also provided data appropriate for the technique of seriation. The modes and motifs were then seriated in a similar manner as pottery modes and styles. Figure 3.3 presents key components of the three-phase sequence (Roe and Rivera 1995). Diagnostic or common characteristics of the initial Phase A comprise the predominance of simple round faces, a vertical nose element, the presence of faces with rays normally located below the face, and depictions of enclosed bodies with simple faces. Round faces continue in Phase B, but with additions including concentric eyeballed eyes, horizontal hourglass-shaped eyes, rays above and below the face, and more complex crowns or headgear. The detail, elaboration, and size, both of the figure and the rock it is carved into, increase in this phase. The trend toward embellishment of facial and body parts reaches its maximum development by Phase C. The anthropomorphic figures of Caguana best exemplify these fully formed and finely executed images. One of the menhirs is considered to represent the Historic-Period known Taíno Earth Goddess Atabeira with her crown, ear plugs, internally complex face and body depiction, and attached arms, legs, hands, and feet. Such detailed elements as nostrils, lip lines, and a heart-shaped face are unique to Phase C.








A.D 1200


A.D 1400


Figure 3.3 A proposed three-phase dating sequence of Puerto Rican rock art, emphasizing anthropomorphic images (modified from Roe 2005: Figure 8.5).

Ethnic Identity in Ethnology and Archaeology Beginning in the 1960s, a vast social science literature has developed on ethnicity, both in sociology and in anthropology. Ethnicity is now recognized as one of the most important phenomena of social structure and social organization in human society. In the anthropological studies,

Rocks of Ages


most analysis stems, either directly or indirectly, from the pioneering work of Fredrik Barth (1969) and his seminal study of ethnic groups and boundaries in West Asia. In turn, that work in cultural anthropology has influenced archaeologists such as Irving Rouse, whose cultural historical and chronological frameworks, as noted earlier, have formed the overarching space-time matrix for Caribbean and northern South American prehistory (1992). This interest is seen especially in his delineation of the advancing frontiers of post-Archaic culture-linguistic expansion out of South America into the Caribbean, in addition to the sort of interaction that might have occurred along and across such ethnic divides. Other researchers (see, for example, Wilson 1993) perceive much greater ethnic diversity in the Greater Antilles, and complex interethnic interaction, particularly between indigenous surviving Archaic populations and the Saladoid arrivals, than Rouse originally emphasized. Nevertheless, the concepts of ‘ethnicity’, ‘ethnic group’, ‘ethnogenesis’, and ‘ethnic boundaries’ are now part of the conceptual framework of both ethnologists and archaeologists. These concepts are briefly reviewed before moving on to the reading of ethnicity from rock art in Puerto Rico. Ethnicity in the modern anthropological understanding appears to express the underlying principle of how humans constitute their societies, in part by excluding others. A human society must be defined as much by those who are excluded as by those who are included. One can borrow the concept of ‘complementary opposition’ first articulated by Evans Pritchard as a principle of clanship among the Nuer of East Africa. Here it is generalized to include all human groups. This concept stipulates that the size and scope of a social unit is dependent on, or comes into being in complementary opposition with, the size and scope of the social unit it is in opposition with at the particular moment of social action or ‘praxis’. Evans Pritchard first defined this complementary opposition in terms of the segmentary organization of the Nuer, when minimal and maximal lineages and inclusive clans are situationally called into action by the similar descent units opposing them in conflicts. For example, when a man from lineage A steals a cow from a man in lineage B, the dispute is no longer limited to the two parties but instead calls up, or mobilizes, all the men in B against all the men in A. Mediating figures such as the now-famous ‘LeopardSkin Chiefs’ then act to defuse such disputes internally by appealing to the next-higher node (the clan that includes both disputing maximal lineages A and B) in the segmentary social organization of these East African pastoralists. He then showed how this process could be utilized in predatory expansion against competing ethnic groups such as the Dinka, who became the ultimate ‘other’ against which all Nuer


Chapter 3

society mobilized. Yet this mechanism is not limited to segmentary societies, but can be said to constitute all human society in its varying levels. This ‘opposition’ that calls ethnic groups into action usually means competition over resources, whether cattle, land, or other limited commodities. Ideology, such as religion or political philosophy, may also form a context for complementary opposition as can language, culinary taboos, or dress. This principle explains one specific aspect of ethnicity, that it is situational in nature rather than absolute and that it may incorporate various levels hierarchically nested within each other depending on the behavioural context. What, then, is ‘ethnicity’? To cite one modern definition, it is a property of an ethnic group, ‘a named social category of people based on shared social experience or ancestry. Members of the ethnic group see themselves as sharing cultural traditions and history that distinguish them from other groups. Ethnic group identity has a strong psychological or emotional component that divides the people of the world into the categories of “us” and “them”’ (Peoples and Bailey 2003:346). It is produced via a process of ‘ethnogenesis’, either by splitting from a parent group as a byproduct of migration or isolation, or by the coalescing of several groups into one as a result of conquest, acculturation, disease, or other factors. Key attributes of an ethnic group include an origin myth or legend, an ideological charter of the beginning of its uniqueness and superiority to others. Such accounts may or may not contain elements of historically verifiable events and personages. Nonetheless, the ethnic members themselves believe them, with varying degrees of fervor. History is tied to space in ethnicity via an established homeland or place of origin. Ethnic groups with specifically identified origin places are conventionally called ‘nations’ or ‘nationalities’ and ‘subnations’ or ‘subnationalities’ if they are without them. Many nationalities have their own states (the ‘nation-state’), whereas others overlap existing nations and strive to constitute their own (they are ‘stateless nationalities’). Supranational ethnic entities can also be formed from related cultures, such as those of modern-day Europe, into a ‘European culture’, or a European peoples, level of analysis, or from similar linguistic groups, such as the South American and Caribbean natives (such as the Taíno), into Arawakan-speaking peoples (for example, ‘Insular Arawakans’). Observable stigmata are used to establish and maintain boundaries with neighboring groups. They are based on unique food taboos or preferences, dress or body art motifs and components, language, and religion, in addition to a whole host of other material descriptors, from methods of making salt or baskets to house styles. The spatial delimitation of such

Rocks of Ages


shared patterns of material culture were used by early anthropologists to define the ‘culture geographic areas’ of interacting ethnic groups, such as the Northwest Amazon and the Greater versus the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean. Indeed, Rouse’s (1992) archaeological subdivisions of the latter gross geographical units into finer-grained culture-geographical regions centered on the straits between islands, such as the Vieques Sound area to the east of Puerto Rico and the Straits of Mona region to the west, emphasize the role of ethnicity in determining cultural interaction from the more ‘emic’ perspective. Since most of the stigmata of ethnicity are designed to be readily visible, whether from a short or a long distance, this study employs Wiessner’s (1983) concepts of ‘emblematic’ versus ‘assertive’ style. First, style itself is the unique, hence recognizable, system of shared elements and rules of form and behaviour out of a total range of possibilities that is created by, and evocative of, particular ethnic groups (Roe 1995a), their place and time. Investigators now prefer to employ the term ‘ethnic art’ for the old-fashioned and pejorative ‘primitive art’ or art of ‘small-scale societies’ (Anderson 1989). Each style goes through regular changes in its popular configurations (ethnographic fashions = archaeographic phases) that together form the style cycles of the various traditions, horizons, and series that constitute archaeological cultures. Emblematic style would therefore be the long-range visible stigmata that identify the specific artefact (or body as ‘cultural artefact’ in the sense of corporeal art) as indicating self- or alter-identification within a specific ethnic group or subgroup. It is one’s ‘ethnic badge’ of identity: ‘I am one of my group of “real humans”, as against all those subhuman “others” ’. ‘Assertive style’ then becomes the specific creative variation on those traditional group themes that identify specific cultural persons (gender, modal personality, status) within them. These stylistic aspects are based, in part, on the unique biological individuality of any particular member of the ‘in’ group (their sex, inherent predispositions or temperament) but go beyond that biological foundation to build the edifice of the cultural person (sex is to gender as temperament is to personality or individuality is to personhood). It is one’s presentation of social uniqueness, formed in part via negotiated interaction with one’s parents, siblings, more distant relatives, and fellows; ‘I am Zelda or Ralph, as against Jane or Tom in my group’. Because of its schematic nature, scale, and long-distance visibility, rock art most easily conveys the emblematic style, although with further detailed study it may be possible to recognize the specific signatures of particular artisans, hence the assertive stylistic aspects of its makers.


Chapter 3

Two additional analytic distinctions are made in the present study: the differences between ‘messages’ and ‘information’ (Jones 1973) in art as a communicational device. Based on classic definitions by Ralph Linton and Homer Barnett, Jones states that all art, including rock art, has four aspects: form, function, principle, and cultural significance or semantics. In the last aspect, the ‘message’ is the artist’s intended ‘emic’, meaning that he/she wants to convey to a specific audience of participants in a cultural system. The ‘information’ is the ‘etic’, meaning that an outside analyst can infer from the manner in which the message is encoded. The meaning of information and message is instantiated in the specific performance or object (both being ‘artefacts’) using the visual, verbal, aural, olfactory, tactile, or taste sense-codes (see LéviStrauss ‘logic of the concrete’ 1981).

Rock Art and Ethnicity in Prehistoric Puerto Rico A number of investigators have made creative use of the concept of ethnicity in rock art research in northern South America (see, for instance, Pereira 2001). Both culturally and regionally these may be relevant to lithoglyphic research in the Caribbean. Following their lead, three studies are presented in which rock art is considered to have formed part of the ethnogenesis of prehistoric Puerto Rican internal identity and external differentiation. Petroglyphs employed to mark and validate intra-ethnic boundaries constitute the first study. Roe’s (1991) decoding of the symbolism of the Maisabel petroglyphs involved the characterization of individual as well as the entire assemblage. An aquatic theme is clearly evident with various fish, turtle, and crab representations (see Figure 3.2b). Anthropomorphic forms are also present, from simple faces to enclosed body figures. Of particular importance to Roe’s interpretation is his identification of three of the geometric images as woven basketry fish traps. A review of relevant ethnohistorical and ethnographic sources yielded parallels that suggested the overall significance of the images. For example, the Historic Period Taíno are reported to have utilized exclusive net- and weir-trapping sites at the river mouths of the coastal plain. Native chiefs and later Spanish colonial authorities controlled access to these zones and equipment. Some evidence exists to suggest that the use of fish weirs extends back into the pre-Taíno period, 600–1200 C.E., when all save one of the petroglyphs at Maisabel are thought to have been engraved (Dubelaar, Hayward, and Cinquino 1999:12–13). Several South American Indian groups have used fish trap petroglyphs as territorial markers to claim fishing areas among

Rocks of Ages


rival ethnic groups (see Lippi 2001; Williams 1978, 1979). In Venezuela, petroglyphs have been interpreted as communication devices, which denote territoriality among other messages (Rodríguez 1985). Roe’s integration of the contextual and petroglyph design data led him to propose that the images marked the site’s or its ethnic group’s ownership of valuable fishing and marine resources, as well as communicating this ownership across ethnic groups. In this case, the fish weir petroglyphs functioned as long-range visible stigmata that identified ‘these resources’ as belonging to ‘us Maisabelians’. Roe further hypothesized that the anthropomorphic figures functioned as supernatural validation of the ownership claim. Their presence implies continuity with the past population’s occupation of the area and use of its resources. Ancestor worship, as already noted, formed an important component of contact period in Caribbean religious systems, which likely also formed part of the island’s immediate precontact (1200–1500 C.E.) system. He, along with others, postulates that enclosed body images represent dead ancestors/ancestress wrapped in hammocks, where the internally lined or other designs substitute for the hammock netting (Dubelaar, Hayward, and Cinquino 1999:13). Roe (Roe, Rivera, and DeScioli 1999) continues and amplifies these themes of ancestor worship and enclosed figures as wrapped dead ancestors in this examination of the Cueva de Mora assemblages, the second case study that hints at rock art and social identity formation. Caves constitute the only one of the four categories of location where petroglyphs and pictographs are currently found together. Roe observes that the Cueva de Mora set of carved and painted images exhibit discrete spatial and stylistic patterning. The twenty-seven petroglyphs are positioned low on cave walls and stalagmite/stalactite formations near both entrances to the cavern complex. The thirty-seven pictographs are situated within the chambers of the cavern system, where virtually all images have been executed several meters above the chamber floors on natural ledges near the ceiling. While the two sets of images share common stylistic elements and pictorial themes, the pictographs are rendered with greater complexity and on a larger scale than are the petroglyphs (compare Figure 3.1c and e) (Dubelaar, Hayward, and Cinquino 1999:13–14). Roe suggests that the two sets of images performed separate functions within a common ritual context. The petroglyphs acted as outer guardians and supplicants to the inner central pictographically rendered shaman intermediaries, ancestral spirits, and animal heralds (Dubelaar, Hayward, and Cinquino 1999:14). Comparison of the images to his threephases dating sequence places them primarily within the second phase of the Late Ceramic, 900–1300 C.E. Given the simple chiefdom level of


Chapter 3

organization during this period with a two-tiered class structure, Roe further proposes that these figures, served to designate ritual locations for separate social groupings: the entrances for commoners and the caverns for the elites and perhaps shamans. Across the island, petroglyphs far outnumber pictographs and are much more accessible, reinforcing this inference for the role of different genres of rock art in the construction of differential social identity and status within the native society that created them. Cueva de Mora may also have functioned to lithify the mythological origins or cosmology of the local ethnic group, regardless of its class structure. Archaeological evidence, including the presence of ritual items and ethnohistorical sources involving Taíno origin myths and ancestor worship, indicate that caves served as special ceremonial centers for the shamanistic-based religion of the Historic Taíno (1500–1525 C.E.) that can be projected backward into the Late Ceramic (600–1500 C.E.). By analogy with extant South American native cosmology, the prehistoric peoples of Puerto Rico would have divided the world into three sections: Sky World, Earth World, and a subaquatic Underworld. An actual earthy feature connected these worlds, which on this island was the Cauta mountain. Caves in mountains also served as connection and thereby communication points, at least mythically via a shaman, among these worlds. The spatial layout of the Cueva de Mora could then be considered one whereby the entrances with the guardian petroglyphs equate with a lower Earth World; the inner, higher chambers with the ancestral/shamanistic/animal familiar pictographs replicate an upper Earth World; the part of the cave above the images represents Sky World; and the lower, subterranean chambers stand in for the Underworld (Dubelaar, Hayward, and Cinquino 1999:14–15). The third study concerns the formation of group identities on an islandwide basis employing both emblematic and assertive style materials. Roe’s (Roe and Rivera 1995) proposed rock art dating scheme implies that Lithic and Archaic Age hunters and gatherers, as well as Early Ceramic horticulturalists, did not produce carved or painted images on the island’s abundant rock resources. While the small size and semisedentary nature of Lithic and Archaic Age peoples may have played a role in the nonproduction of rock art in their new island setting, this cannot be said for the subsequent large-sized and settled Saladoid groups, also finding themselves in a new environment, social as well as physical. The island’s Saladoid groups are associated with an elaborate material culture of what Roe (1989) terms ‘personal presentation’ items, or assertive style markers of individuals, societal subgroups, and status. These items include pottery in a profusion of complex vessel shapes

Rocks of Ages


and functions with plastic and painted designs; well-executed human figurines, and small, intricately worked beads and pendants of semiprecious greenstone and amethyst (Rouse 1992). All these were items that had a ‘kinetic’ aspect: pots that when inverted in use depicted alternative ‘anatropic designs’ or intricate detail (false negative and negative designs in addition to positive and smudged images), as well as fine-line ZIC (cross-hatched) layouts on labial flanges that could have been appreciated only in the act of offering food and drink to invited guests at feasts or fiestas of the sort still common in the Amazon of South America. There, an ethno-aesthetic of the ‘pristine’ (brand new items created especially for the event) and a cultural requirement for creativity, usually on a ‘theme and variations’ format (Roe 1995b, 1997), insured that items could be appreciated only at close range in the context of personal interaction. This is a cultural milieu where generosity and innovation within traditional confines are highly regarded as a means of personal projection of the cultured self. This explains, in part, why much of the recovered material culture from these earliest traditions is relatively small in scale but exquisite and intentionally variable in execution and raw material. The switch or introduction of rock art as emblematic style markers of larger ethnic, social, and political units, Roe hypothesizes, relates the concept of ‘culture lag’ and the increasing sociopolitical structure of the post-Saladoid Late Ceramic period. Culture lag involves a tendency to have the different institutions of culture, despite their mutual interaction, evolve at different rates. This occurs frequently when the internally conservative realms of ideology (religion, art) change more slowly than do the environmental-adaptive aspects of techno-economy or social structure and organization. This is particularly the case where movement over space and time is involved, as cultures tend to bring their conceptual and physical heritage along with them, especially via migration. Populations frequently use and retain tried and tested subsistence strategies and institutions even when they find themselves in radically different environments or social contexts from those in which those things first evolved. They often are reluctant to borrow more suitable items from the frequently antagonistic cultures they confront in their new setting and use the new environment, with all its novel resources, as merely a better case of the old, their adaptation lagging behind their movement. Sometimes this is unsuccessful, a combination of environmental change, isolation, and cultural competition causing the intrusive culture to become extinct, as Diamond (2005) has recently argued for the Vikings in the New World and Greenland in competition with the Indigenous ‘Skraeling’ Inuit and Indian Indigenes. Other times, as in the prehistoric Caribbean, the process of local adaptation


Chapter 3

takes a long time and, though ultimately successful, involves much culture lag in realms as diverse as cultural ecology and technology. The riverine South American homeland of the Saladoid groups comprised a wet and organic world of tropical rainforest. Stone of any kind is rare, in some cases even small pebbles to polish pottery becoming heirlooms! It is no surprise then to find that the material culture of these groups in their new rocky island home of Puerto Rico contains some highly unusual ‘culture lag’ artefacts suitable only in far-off stoneless Orinoco-Amazonia. These include ceramic topia, or supports for clay cooking griddles, that were subsequently replaced by actual river cobbles. Moreover, additional evidence indicates that the Saladoid peoples’ mind-sets were still in terra firme. For example, numerous depictions of South American fauna in effigy handles and vessels on the pottery are evident (Roe 1989). Such creatures are not present on the faunally impoverished Caribbean islands and include capybara, capuchin monkeys, and leaf-nosed bats from the distant mainland. Artisans were looking backward, to where they came from, not forward, to where they now were. Perhaps, one could argue, the same mental constraints may have functioned to produce a paucity of rock art despite the fact that rock suitable for it is ubiquitous in the Greater Antilles. It is now an accepted critique of the sort of cultural materialism that informs many archaeologists that everywhere from Tasmania to South America resources are not self-evident. They are, in part, culturally constructed; one cannot have a fishing technology until one has decided that fish are edible. In other words, perhaps not being used to having rock resources or lithoglyphic art in their original homeland, the new horticultural and ceramic-using arrivals simply did not avail themselves of the rock resources on the islands to create pictographs or petroglyphs. By pre-Taíno times, around 600 C.E., this has changed. Generic ‘critters’ appear as adornos on the pottery as the memory of terra firme species wanes, and the first appearance of rock art (petroglyphs) and corporate monumental architecture (ball courts) constructed with river cobbles and boulders is observed. It is considered no accident that both of these material cultural mega-elements appear at the same time. Both of them represent a shift in the material culture from ‘personal presentation’ to ‘public power’ in Roe’s terminology. Rock art and ball courts normally require considerable labor investment and, most appropriately, are visible from a long distance. Being static, petroglyphs and ball courts lined with petroglyphs are also frontal in view. These features employ an emblematic style of execution that becomes increasingly more complex through time. The Late Ceramic

Rocks of Ages


first-phase ball court site of Tibes (González Colón 1989) exhibits small simple faces executed on the exterior of some of the stones that mark the margins of the stone pavements on either side of the rectangular ball courts (see Figure 3.3). Then, at slightly later ball court sites such as El Bronce (Robinson 1985), the visages become more elaborate with an emphasis on facial embellishments such as elaborate headgear, necklaces incorporating pendants, as well as large ear plugs, all of which may reflect status, gender, ethnic affiliation, or other group identity. At the same time, the local marine fauna becomes important in pictorial representations where it replaces the earlier mainland South American jungle fauna. An incised large shark materializes in conjunction with a frontal human face as whole body menhir petroglyphs at El Bronce (see Figure 3.3). Elsewhere on the coast we find the appearance of a probable salt-water dolphin (Rivera Fontán and Silva Pagán 1997) in another large boulder as part of the ball court boundary stones; these are motifs that are unique to the Caribbean, being absent in the Amazon and the Orinoco, and indicate a focus on insular fauna. At the same time, rock art representation of stars and asterisms appears in caves and courts that would not have been visible in the southern latitudes of origin (Eichholz 1999; Robiou Lamarche 1988). The artisan’s minds and senses are now firmly in their island world. By Historic Taíno times the human image has grown in complexity, as seen at the site of Caguana in the center of the island, identified in the ethnohistoric sources as the seat of an important cacique, or regional chieftain. There, whole male and female figures are presented, torso, extremities, and all, and in conjunction with important gender-based accoutrements of status, such as the most complex male seated on a ‘duho’, or ceremonial stool of power. His companion, already noted as being considered the Taíno Earth Goddess Atabeira, is shown in a pose that imitates the position of frogs, as seen in countless lesser theriomorphic amulets. Further iconographic elements are added, such as closed eyes interpreted to indicate ‘dead’ ancestor/ancestress status for the lineages of the ruling nitaíno in the two-tiered stratified chiefdom. A final observation on rock art and prehistoric ethnic identities concerns the interaction among Archaic and Ceramic Age populations. The arrival of the Saladoid groups is likely to have forced adjustments to human-land relationships, including pressure on the Archaic groups to colonize the interior, moving up the coastal river valleys. They may still have held the mountainous interior into the Late Ceramic period. By marking coastal, river, and mountain interior locations with rock art, the later inward-moving Taíno populations were simultaneously claiming the new land as theirs and warning the remaining Archaic


Chapter 3

groups away from their new claims. While such ‘ethnic billboards’ would have been equally helpful in Saladoid times on the coast, the before-mentioned culture-lag lack of recognition of the lithic resources of the island for rock art purposes on the part of Saladoid groups explains why it took until later times for this medium to be utilized for ethnic marking and identity.

Rock Art and Ethnicity in Contemporary Puerto Rico: A Problem in ‘Cultural Hybrid Vigor’ That rock art relates to both internal identity and external differentiation in the archaeological past can also be demonstrated in the ethnographic present. Rock art has assumed unique importance in the Caribbean, perhaps because of the lack of large monumental architecture. If Puerto Rico does not have huge stone pyramids like those of Mexico or Guatemala, it does possess numerous and sometimes large and complex assemblages of rock art. Here pictographs and petroglyphs are made to carry the full weight of ethnicity. In mainland Latin American contexts with large surviving native population, a unique synthesis of Old World raw materials (such as wool, aniline dyes, musical instruments) has been remade into new and elaborate folk art when coupled with native design sensibilities. This is a true case of ‘Cultural Hybrid Vigor’, where the resulting products are far more elaborate and aesthetically compelling for modern peoples than is either of the constituent traditions that composed the original ‘donor’ cultures. Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Mexico, and Guatemala are famous for this ‘multimedia’ art, which has generated billions in tourism and tourist art revenues as well as forming crucial ‘ethnic badges’ of identity that differentiate these vibrant cultures from either Spain or the indigenous empires that formed their foundations. Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, in contrast, have the cultural conundrum of lacking a surviving native component. These island cultures instead possess either impoverished local peasant versions of Iberian culture or the ‘hybrid vigor’ mix of West African/ European productions to draw on. There are cultural reasons why the West African/European tradition is underutilized, both in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, where African ancestry, although more common, is nonetheless still problematic from an ethnicity perspective (Deive 1981). The Spanish heritage is utilized in the form of innumerable Santos (carved Saint figures) or little tourist curios such as carved coqui frogs, folkloric scenes, and the like. Artisans are established on the island in some numbers, and artisan fairs (Figure 3.4) are regularly held throughout the island.

Rocks of Ages


Figure 3.4 Modern Artisan Fair in Puerto Rico. Center: artisan and his stand; upper left and right: carved wooden Santos, or saints; lower left: small papier-maˆché mask evoking African ancestral heritage; lower right: necklace with prehistoric petroglyph design (Cinquino).

The main staple of the artisan trade has instead developed into a dependence on replicating, sometimes with less-than-accurate results, the Taíno and pre-Taíno artefacts, principally petroglyphs. The artists often alter the original images to the point of causing much distortion in the popular mind as to what these images really look like. Since such fanciful reconstructions are frequently the only renditions accessible to the public, their negative impact on the rendition of the actual rock art becomes all the more severe, especially since these images then proliferate in the artisan field of tourist curios and even civic monuments. For instance, incalculable alterations have been wreaked on the hapless menhir petroglyph from Caguana, possibly a rendition of the Historic Taíno Earth Goddess Atabeira, reproduced in everything from little tourist necklace elements to civic logos and monuments (compare her differing renditions in Figures 3.3, 3.5, and 3.6). She has become an icon of ‘Puerto Ricanness’. Free-standing sculpture has been created (Figure 3.5) incorporating petroglyphs or emulating Taíno artefacts or themes. Recreations, such as the ‘native’ festival at Jayuya in the western highlands, reenact Taíno areytos, or feasts, complete with g-stringed and body-painted maidens. It joins other regional festivities, such as the Festival del Hamaca (‘Festival of the Hammock’), as island affirmations of ethnicity and occasions for enjoyment and tourism.


Chapter 3

Figure 3.5 A roadside sculpture by a Puerto Rican artisan incorporating his renditions of Taíno and pre-Taíno petroglyphs (Roe 2001).

Rock Art and Ethnicity in Contemporary Puerto Rico: Archaeology as Politics While professional and amateur investigators have maintained an interest in the study of Puerto Rico’s prehistoric past, virtually all segments of today’s society feel a proprietary interest in the island’s original inhabitants. People speak of nuestros indios (‘our Indians’) or nuestros primeros artistas (‘our first artists’). The reason behind this fascination lies in the

Rocks of Ages


Figure 3.6 The cover of the Diccionario Taino Ilustrado by Edwin Miner Solá, with the ‘O’ in the title rendered as a petroglyph, along with a prominent depiction of one of the menhir petroglyphs from Caguana interpreted as Atabeira, the ethnohistorically known Taíno Earth Goddess. Other petroglyph designs festoon the back of the volume cover.

complementary-opposition dynamics of Puerto Rican ethnic identity. Inhabitants of the island, ever since the turn-of-the-century American conquest and current quasicolonial (Commonwealth) occupation,


Chapter 3

have found themselves in a liminal position, both psychologically and culturally, from which there is no escape. They utilize U.S. dollars and the American postal system yet cannot vote in U.S. elections as a ‘Free Associated State’, or Commonwealth. It has become a true hybrid society, with a North American infrastructure and absolute monetary dependency, coupled with a Latin Spanish-speaking Catholic society. The neglect and exploitation of its Spanish occupation period has left many common people with an abiding distaste for their former Spanish occupiers, as well as identification with the material benefits of their American conquerors. Assimilation has left some of these people with a clear auto-definition of identity as ‘Americans’, coupled with a proud sense of patriotism for membership in North American society. Large segments of the huge overseas Puerto Rican population that regularly visit or return to the island also share the same ambiguities. At the same time, some elements of the educated middle and upper classes identify with classic Spanish culture and language, and hence an overt Hispanic (and sometimes fervently anti-American) identity that supports the Ateneo and other Spanish-subvended institutions, such as the Spanish Club Casa de España. This segment is what the social philosopher Eric Hoffer would have called the ‘compact majority’ of the numerically vanishingly small, less than 5% but culturally disproportionately important Independentista (‘Independence’) segment. This subgroup includes much of the island’s artists and educated elite. Important institutions that foster this affiliation (although usually with heavy North American financial assistance) are the Instituto de la Cultura Puerriqueña (The Institute of Puerto Rican Culture); the various Casas de Cultura (Houses of Culture), usually historic architectural complexes serving as local museums and cultural centers in villages on the island; the various colleges and Universities, particularly the Universidad de Puerto Rico, Río Piedras, San Juan, and the Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y el Caribe (CEAPRC; Center for Advanced Studies of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean), a graduate school facility in San Juan. These are all bastions of cultural independence, many of them long active in archaeology as a classic ‘roots’ activity. After more than a decade of teaching on the graduate level in Spanish on the island as well as close to thirty years of archaeological research there, Roe testifies that the Spanish themselves, usually brought over as professors from Spanish universities, often regard, and treat, Puerto Ricans as ‘benighted rustics’. Hence, while many educated Puerto Ricans with less strident anti-American feelings go to the United States for advanced degrees, and Independence or Commonwealth adherents send their children to Mexico or Canada, or, even despite these attitudes, to Spain, they cannot regard themselves

Rocks of Ages


as pure ‘Spaniards’. This desire for cultural autonomy, yet the need for cultural affiliation with the United States and Spain, is personified by the key cultural figure of Ricardo E. Alegría, an internationally known scholar in Puerto Rican studies and island archaeology and a stillliving bulwark of Hispanic identity. Along with his North American colleagues Frederick Rainey and Irving Rouse, Alegría is one of the founders of modern Puerto Rican archaeology. He has also long been involved in primary research and publication in Puerto Rican folklore, ethnography, and ethnohistory, among the small Afro-based as well as the general population. Now retired from the CEAPRC, which he founded, he has also established museums and other programs, having the political skills and wide cultural authority necessary for such multiple efforts. He is nonetheless fluent in English and the holder of two advanced degrees from two of the best United States institutions of higher learning: Yale and Chicago. Alegría, in the process, has also contributed significantly to the modern definition of Puerto Rican culture and ethnicity, formulating the ‘Holy Trinity’ of the Spanish conquistador, the Taíno Indian, and the African slave. The Institute of Puerto Rican has even taken this summation of the tripartite nature of Puerto Rican ‘ancestors’ as its Great Seal. Difficulties with this symbolic summation exist, not the least of which is that the U.S. Rough Rider is nowhere to be found as a fourth contributor to modern Puerto Rican culture. This lack is evident despite the profound Americanization of the island and its present total dependence on massive financial and institutional support from the United States. Even though Puerto Ricans carry U.S. passports, other Latin Americans clearly struggle to place both the island and the peculiar dialect of Puerto Rican Spanish with its pervasive American and African influences into a context they can relate to. While discussions of ‘status’ are endless fodder for the Puerto Rican press and commentators – Statehood, continued Commonwealth, Independence – it is unlikely that their liminal political status will change in the foreseeable future. The insular solution for this ethno-anthropological quandary has been to adopt the Taíno Indian as the romantic ancestor. He has the convenience to have been pacific, noble, and, now, conveniently dead. Moreover, the Indian is neither North American nor Spaniard and escapes the racial difficulty of a black skin (trigeño in the Puerto Rican euphemism, tan – race still matters although perhaps less overtly than elsewhere). Hence, the Taíno becomes the symbol of what it is to be Puerto Rican. This has even led to the autocreation of modern ‘Taíno’ Indians in the New York Puerto Rican community through an act of voluntary self-ethnogenesis! There are now newsletters and political


Chapter 3

movements based on ‘Indian’ identity among stateside, but not island, Puerto Ricans. While there are undeniable remnants of the Taíno heritage on the island, everything from hammocks to yuca (sweet manioc), the Taíno ceased to exist as a viable population some fifty years after contact (Anderson-Córdova 1990). Taíno men, of course, were killed or died first, Spaniards marrying the surviving Taíno and other Amerindian women. This intermarriage produced half-castes who were occasionally mentioned in city censuses, such as those of Arecibo, down to the nineteenth century. Women, being associated with childhood enculturation and the custodians of cultural conservation crossculturally, may have transferred some cultural knowledge from these last proto-historic inhabitants of the island (hence, the statements of cultural transmission from mi abuelita by people). Yet, it is likely that little is left beyond the romantic attachment. This movement is more an archaistic recreation for modern complementary opposition and entitlement issues rather than a genuine rediscovery of a living legacy. Nevertheless, as a social phenomenon it joins the publication of Taíno dictionaries, complete with petroglyphic cover art and lettering (see Figure 3.6) (Miner Solá 2002); plentiful Taíno toponyms; rock art icons on municipal crests and flags, as well as other native cultural components that heighten the unique flavor of Puerto Rico. Taíno words, in particular, abound for everything from businesses and shopping centers to housing developments and entertainment groups. Since the Taíno did not leave behind any monumental structures, apart from their menhir petroglyphs, and their pottery was humble earthenware, their relatively prolific rock art (mostly petroglyphs) has become the common symbol of the Taíno and hence of the Puerto Rican him/herself. Petroglyphic designs grace all manner of popular artesanal material culture and appear in prominent public murals and civic sculpture. Heroic ‘Socialist Realism’ bronze Taíno Indians beckon from multiple civic plazas and numerous road intersections. Thus, unlike in the African Lesser Antilles, where native sites and rock art largely are ignored as not being relevant, in the Hispanic islands of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic (but not Haiti and Jamaica), and Cuba tremendous interest exists in finding and preserving native rock art. However, owing to the massive influx of funds from the United States, and the unprecedented development of the island, the very prosperity of Puerto Rico has led to wholesale destruction of rock art and rock art sites. The unique conical-shaped limestone hills of the northern coast, in addition to the caves where rock art is found, are being literally consumed to construct flat building grounds for shopping centers, malls, and suburban tract housing. In the Casa de Cultura (the local House of Culture) of Dorado, west of San Juan, for example,

Rocks of Ages


petroglyphs are on display, having been excised, using rock-cutting saws, carried, and displayed there after the caves in which they were etched were destroyed. The hills they were in were levelled for fill for vast housing projects. Much rock art documentation on the island is therefore a losing race with such destruction. Yet people still battle to save these images, for they still live in their own self-ethnogenesis.

Conclusion Ideas matter in a systemic view of culture, as do subsistence and the social order. Nowhere do ideas and the other dimensions crystallize so well than in rock art. The medium is both curiously ‘immobile’ and ‘immutable’, yet ‘dynamic’ and ‘culturally polysemic’ in its structure and function. One of its principal functions, as we have seen, may not have been just the intended ‘message’ of ancestorhood or specific powerful deities on the part of its creators but also the implicit ‘information’ it conveyed as to ethnicity, both of the authoring society and the viewer in other ethnic groups locked in complementary opposition with it. Moreover, interest in and use of ancient rock art images remain vibrant in the present world of contested social identities among Greater Antillean Caribbean populations. This is the case especially with Puerto Ricans, owing to their unique history and present pattern of dependency, as they struggle to assert ethnic autonomy using the designs of the ancients. These enigmatic images still speak to the living, but the messages and information they convey may now be very different, but no less central, to social life and personal quest than they were when freshly painted or engraved in the rock of ages.

References Alegría, R. E. 1983. ‘Ball courts and ceremonial plazas in the West Indies’, Yale University Publications in Anthropology 79. New Haven: Department of Anthropology, Yale University. Alvarado Zayas, P. A. 1999. ‘Estudio y documentación del arte rupestre en Puerto Rico’. In J. Rivera (ed.), Trabajos de Investigación Arqueológica en Puerto Rico, Tercer Encuentro de Investigadores. San Juan: Instituto de la Cultura Puertorriqueña, División de Arqueología, 97–102. Anderson-Córdova, K. F. 1990. Hispaniola and Puerto Rico: Indian acculturation and heterogeneity, 1492–1550. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Yale University, University Microfilms, Ann Arbor Order No. DA9122259. Anderson, R. L. 1989. Art in Small-Scale Societies (2nd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Barth, F. 1969. ‘Introduction’. In F. Barth (ed.), Ethnic Groups and Boundaries: The Social Organization of Social Difference. Boston: Little and Brown, 9–38. Deive, C. E. 1981. ‘¿Y tu abuela, dónde está?’. Boletín del Museo del Hombre Dominican 10(16):109–14.


Chapter 3

Diamond, J. 2005. Collapse: How Societies Chose to Fail or Succeed. New York: Viking, Penguin Group. Dubelaar, C. N., M. H. Hayward, and M. A. Cinquino. 1999. Puerto Rican Rock Art: A Resource Guide. San Juan: Panamerican Consultants, Inc., of Buffalo New York for the Puerto Rico State Historic Preservation Office. Eichholz, D. W. 1999. ‘Rock art and astronomy at Las Flores, Puerto Rico’, 17 Proceedings of the Congress of the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology. Nassau: New Providence, Bahamas, 3–19. González Colón, J. 1989. Tibes: Un centro ceremonial indígena. Unpublished Master’s thesis, San Juan: Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y el Caribe [1984]. Hayward, M. H., and M. A. Cinquino. 1999. Archaeological Data Recovery of Prehistoric Site LO-9, for the Shoreline Protection Project, Highway 187, Punta Maldonado, Municipio of Loíza, Puerto Rico. Prepared for the Jacksonville District Office, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville, Florida by Panamerican Consultants, Inc., Buffalo, New York. Hayward, M. H., M. A. Cinquino, and M. A. Steinback. 2002. Prehistoric Rock Art of Puerto Rico. Multiple Property Submission, National Park Service, United States Department of Interior, Washington, DC. Hayward, M. H., M. J. Meléndez, and M. Ramos. 1992a. Informe Preliminar 1. Documentación de tres Sities de Arte Ruprestre: Piedra Escrita, Jayuyua; Cueva del Indio, Las Piedras; Quebrdada Maracuto, Carolina. San Juan: División de Arqueología, Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña. ———. 1992b. Informe Final. Documentación del Sitio LM-4 Arte Ruprestre, Río Guacio, Las Marías. San Juan: División de Arqueología, Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña. Jones, W. T. 1973. ‘Talking about art and primitive society’. In A. Forge (ed.), Primitive Art and Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 256–77. Lévi-Strauss, C. 1981. The Naked Man: Introduction to a Science of Mythology (vol. 4). New York: Harper & Row. Lippi, R. D. 2001. ‘Engraved river boulders and the native peoples of Western Pichincha, Ecuador’. Paper presented at the 66th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, New Orleans, Louisiana. Miner Solá, E. 2002. Diccionario Taíno Ilustrado. San Juan: Ediciones Servilibros. Newsom, L. A., and E. S. Wing. 2004. On Land and Sea: Native American Uses of Biological Resources in the West Indies. Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press. Oliver, J. R. 1998. El Centro Ceremonial del Caguana. Puerto Rico: Simbolismo, Iconografía, Cosmovisión y el Poderio Casiquil Taíno de Borinquen. B.A.R. International Series, 727, Oxford: Archaeopress. Peoples, J., and G. Bailey. 2003. Humanity: An Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. Pereira, E. 2001. ‘Testimony in stone: Rock art in the Amazon’. In C. McEwan (ed.), Unknown Amazon: Culture in Nature in Ancient Brazil. London: The British Museum Press, 214–29. Picó, R. 1974. The Geography of Puerto Rico. Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company. Rivera Fontán, J. A., and D. Silva Pagán. 1997. ‘Proyecto arqueológico Bo. Quemado, Mayagüez (Batey Delfín del Yagüez)’. In J. A. Rivera (ed.), 2do Encuentro de Investigadores: Ocho trabajos de Investigación Arqueológica en Puerto Rico. San Juan: Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, Fundación Puertorriqueña de las Humanidades: 53–64. Robinson, L. S. 1985. ‘The stone row at El Bronce archaeological site, Puerto Rico’. In L. S. Robinson, E. R. Lundberg, and J. B. Walker, Archaeological Data Recovery at El Bronce, Puerto Rico: Final Report, Phase 2. Prepared for the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, by Archaeological Services, Inc, Ft Myers, Florida, I1–I12. Robiou Lamarche, S. 1988. ‘Posibles símbolos astronómicos-meteorológicos en el arte rupestre antillano’. In D. Pagán (ed.), Actas del VIII Simposio Internacional de Arte Rupestre Americano. Santo Domingo: Museo del Hombre Dominicano (1987), 405–29.

Rocks of Ages


Rodríguez, E. 1985. ‘Los petroglifos en arqueología social’, Gens 1(1):37–50. Rodríguez, M. 1999. ‘Excavations at Maruca, a preceramic site in southern Puerto Rico’, 17 Proceedings of the Congress of the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology, Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas, 166–80. Roe, P. G. 1989. ‘A grammatical analysis of Cedrosan Saladoid vessel form categories and surface decoration: Aesthetic and technical styles in Early Antillean ceramics’. In P. E. Siegel (ed.), Early Ceramic Population Lifeways and Adaptive Strategies in the Caribbean. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports International Series, 267–382. ———. 1991. ‘The petroglyphs of Maisabel: A study in methodology’, 10 Proceedings of the Congress of the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology, Cayenne, Guyane Française, 317–70. ———. 1995a. ‘Style, society, myth and Structure’. In C. Carr and J. E. Neitzel (eds.), Style, Society, and Person. New York: Plenum Publishing Corporation, 27–76. ———. 1995b. In B. Braun (ed.), Arts of the Amazon. London: Thames & Hudson. ———. 1997. ‘An affecting culture of beauty and ephemerality’. In K. Yellis (ed.), Fragments of the Sky: The Art of Amazonian Rites of Passage. New Haven, CT: Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, 1–22. ———. 2005. ‘Rivers of stone, rivers within stone: Rock art in ancient Puerto Rico’. In P. E. Siegel (ed.), Puerto Rican Prehistory. Tuscaloosa, AL: The University of Alabama Press. Roe, P. G., and J. Rivera. 1995. ‘Recent advances in recording, dating and interpreting Puerto Rican petroglyphs’, 16 Proceedings of the Congress of the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology, Basse Terre, Guadeloupe, 444–61. Roe, P. G., J. Rivera, and P. DeScioli 1999. ‘The Cueva de Mora (Comerío, PR) pictographs and petroglyphs: A documentary project’, 17 Proceedings of the Congress of the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology, Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas, Rouse, Irving, 20–59. Rouse, I. 1992. The Taínos: The Rise and Fall of the People Who Greeted Columbus. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Wiessner, P. 1983. ‘Style and social information in Kalahari San projectile points’, American Antiquity 48:253–76. Williams, D. 1978. ‘Petroglyphs at Marlissa: Berbice River’, Archaeology and Anthropology 1:24–31. ———. 1979. ‘Preceramic fishtraps on the Upper Essequibo: Report on a survey of unusual petroglyphs on the Upper Essequibo and Kassikaityu Rivers, 12–28 March, 1979’, Archaeology and Anthropology 2(2):125–40. Wilson, S. M. 1993. ‘The cultural mosaic of the indigenous Caribbean’, 81 Proceedings of the British Academy, 37–66.

CHAPTER 4 Rock Art, Modes of Production, and Social Identities during the Early Formative Period in the Atacama Desert (Northern Chile) Francisco Gallardo and Patricio De Souza (Translated by Joan Donaghey)

The Atacama Desert in Northern Chile is one of the most arid areas of the world. Nevertheless, in the highlands of its eastern boundary the waters produced by mountain runoff and underground springs have enabled the existence of forested oases in the lowlands (2,300 m a.s.l.) along with bushes and grasslands with grazing potential in the highest zones (3,000–4,200 m a.s.l.). In this environment, a hunting-gathering tradition flourished that laid the foundation for the process of animal domestication. In fact, it is in the Late Archaic period (ca. 6000– 3500 B.P.) that the first osteological records of domestic camelids appear (Cartajena 1994, Núñez et al. 2006a; Yacobaccio, Elkin, and Olivera 1994), in the following Early Formative period (ca. 3500–2400 B.P.) these animals would become herds used for transporting goods and ideas throughout the region (Núñez and Dillehay 1995). This new mode of subsistence did not replace the old hunter-gatherer mode but assimilated it into a broader economic model that was ultimately dominated by interregional trade. In this chapter, we explore the relationships between the content manifested in the rock art forms and modes of subsistence as a way of revealing the ideological processes and social distinctions of the past. These relationships are especially pronounced in the Atacama Desert highlands, where in association with the first pastoralist communities we have detected the coexistence of two rock art styles, Confluencia style and Taira Tulán style, each with its own formal content, one alluding to wild camelids and armed hunters, the other to domesticated camelids (Gallardo and Yacobaccio 2005) (Figure 4.1). These representations are an expression in rock art of social identities belonging to the period’s socioeconomic form and serve to ideologically mask the social 79


Chapter 4

Figure 4.1 Distribution of the Taira Tulán and Confluencia styles in the Atacama region (Northern Chile).

Rock Art, Modes of Production, and Social Identities


contradictions of the transition from the dominant hunter-gatherer mode of production to the emerging one of pastoralism and trade.

Ideology, Modes of Production and Social Identity What is ideology? Where does it come from? From the ideas that a community holds about itself and the world that surrounds it? From its values and beliefs? From its mystifying character? In the social sciences, materialist perspectives have offered more than one response to such questions, but, to a lesser or greater degree, most of these have had to bear the burden of the legacy of Marx and Engels, especially the ideas presented in ‘The German Ideology’ (1968 [1846]:26) which affirms that ‘consciousness can never be anything else than conscious existence, and the existence of men is their actual life-process. If in all ideology men and their circumstances appear upside-down as in a camera obscura, this phenomenon arises just as much from their historical life-process. . . . The phantoms formed in the human brain are also, necessarily, sublimates of their material life-process, which is empirically verifiable and bound to material premises’.1 Ideology is a type of representation, a flawed conception of the true nature of the relationships people establish in the productive process. Nevertheless, as the quote above suggests, ideology is not exclusively mental but is also linked in some way to the material world. Ideology is not simply an idea, belief, or moral value without material existence; it is a type of practice that is carried out under objective, albeit mystified, conditions (Althusser 1986). If ideology is an inherent part of human action whose existence and effectiveness must be expressed tangibly in the real world, then a good part of the archaeological record – and especially that which is often considered ‘material culture’ – can be seen as objectified ideology, even where it cannot always be identified (Hodder 1992:41; Leone 1982). As we know, all ideology operates through social and economic reproduction (making it occur apparently without contradictions). However, although all social practice is ideological, not all practices can be considered part of the dominant ideology. History itself contains not only permanence but also change. Such transformations uncover residual and/or emerging ideological practices that resist, with more or less intensity, the ideology of dominant social groups and the instruments that promote stability and the development of hegemonies within a social structure. In contrast to the nineteenth century view of ideology as an instrument of manipulation used by the dominant classes, here ideology is seen as a set of practices whose representations are distinct for each social group that coparticipates in a given economic and social


Chapter 4

form (Bourdieu 1983; Gramsci 1985; Williams 1980). While all of these agents contribute to social reproduction, the different representations of this process mask rather than reveal its structure and complexity. Rock art is an archaeological fact whose shapes and distribution express an aspect of a community’s collective imagination or an author’s awareness of a community’s cultural expectations and frustrations. It is therefore a material indicator of ideologies and social processes at a representational level. This is especially true when the art is produced within a style that itself reflects norms and conventions. Style always implies a social relationship between those who produce it and those who consume it and, although it may promote the reproduction of the social order through its rhetoric (Lewis-Williams 1982; Whitley 1994), it does not always follow the imperatives of the dominant social forms (Gallardo, Castro, and Miranda 1999). Style contributes to both social integration and social differentiation (Hodder 1979; Wobst 1977). Thus, the subjects of the past expressed and established different visual preferences through their rock art, placing in them a significant share of the way they saw, imagined, thought about, experienced, and built within the social diversity of the world in which they lived. Frequently, artefacts belonging to visual cultures of the past have been used to define archaeological cultures, entities in the archaeological field that were considered equivalent to ethnic groups (such as the Andean Chavin culture). Today, such mechanistic reasoning has lost its relevance, while concern for social identities and their relations with material culture have acquired great significance (see Jones 1997; Plog 1983). It is also now recognized that this type of process within a society is actively related to style (iconographic or technological), a strategy that was used to justify and manipulate intra- and inter-group relationships, especially where the social units mentioned are feeling the pressure of social and economic change (Conkey 1978; Gamble 1983; Hodder 1979; Wobst 1977). These identity-building processes are not the result of a mechanical attachment to an underlying norm or structure; they are social acts in which meanings are actively procured and negotiated (Bourdieu 1988). As Jones (1997:121) has suggested, these constructions and objectifications stem from the intersection of people’s customary devices and concrete social-historical conditions.

Modes of Production during the Early Formative Period in the Atacama Desert For nearly 7,000 years, hunting and gathering was the dominant technology, settlement system and subsistence mode of human groups in the highlands of the Atacama Desert. However, toward 4000 B.C.E.,

Rock Art, Modes of Production, and Social Identities


during what is known as the Late Archaic period, the archaeological record points to the birth of a profound change in economic and social life. This includes sites with more complex architectonic features than before, organized in sedentary settlement systems, and whose archaeofaunal record contained the first evidence of camelid domestication (Cartajena 1994; Núñez and Santoro 1988; Núñez et al. 2006a; Yacobaccio, Elkin, and Olivera 1994). Around 1500 B.C.E. this economic and social base, accompanied by an increased environmental humidity (Núñez et al. 2002), provided the foundation for one of the most important economic changes to be experienced by Atacama Desert prehistoric societies. At that time – the beginning of the Early Formative period (ca. 1500–400 B.C.E.) – along with the intensification of subsistence activities characteristic of the Late Archaic period, new productive processes emerged, most notably the husbandry of llama herds (Benavente 1982; Cartajena 1994; Núñez et al. 2006a). The permanence of higher ranked, more complex settlements in valleys with grasslands indicates that animal husbandry and hunting were determining factors in the settlement pattern. Evidence of crop cultivation – maize, quinoa, and peppers – first appears in this period. The limited records of this activity, however, and the lack of large, complex settlements in oases with agricultural potential, suggest that agriculture was a less important technical and social process than were husbandry and hunting (Holden 1991; Núñez et al. 2006a). At the same time, interregional traffic previously limited to the Pacific coast/Puna corridor spread to the jungles and highlands east of the Andes, as the region’s first archaeological record of exotic products – ceramic, stones, feathers, and shells native to those regions – bears witness (Benavente 1982; Núñez 1994; Núñez et al. 2006a, b). This interregional traffic was facilitated by the use of llama caravans, as the indications of transport in the archeofaunal record suggests (Núñez et al. 2006a). Indeed, there is little doubt that domesticated livestock was used more as a means of transport than as a food source. This is consistent with the evidence of production of goods for trade; it was during this period that the populations began to exploit copper deposits. Disk-shaped necklace beads and waste material from the production of this mineral are found in abundance at the sites. Possibly, these artefacts were part of a surplus production that was used as exchange goods by the Atacama Desert highland populations in trading activities with extraregional contacts (Núñez et al. 2006a, b; Rees and De Souza 2004). Although the goods that made their way into the highlands of the Atacama through interregional traffic included food products such as fish and edible molluscs from the Pacific coast, the most conspicuous evidence of interregional contact are sumptuary objects. These


Chapter 4

include Pacific mollusc shells with little food value (Oliva peruviana and Turritela singulata), shell-bead artefacts, and marine mammal bones worked into ornamental headdresses. From the jungles east of the Andes came freshwater mollusc shells (Strophocheilus oblongus), tropical bird feathers, and ceramic pipes; the last could plausibly be associated with the consumption of cebil (Anadenanthera colubrina), an hallucinogenic substance also from the jungle (Torres and Repke 2006) (Figure 4.2). Studies of trace elements have also identified the movement of high-quality obsidian from sources located on the eastern side of the Puna (Núñez et al. 2006a). As the domesticated herds were used for transport, hunting practices retained their importance, as indicated by the high frequency of wild camelids (vicuña, Vicugna vicugna, and guanaco, Lama guanicoe) within the faunal record (Cartajena 1994; Núñez et al. 2006a, b; Yacobaccio, Elkin, and Olivera 1994). Clearly, these prey remained an important part of the diet of the period; however, also important is the significant increase and diversification of textile-making, in which the use of wild animal fibre predominates, mainly from vicuña (Benavente 1982; Cartajena 1994; Núñez et al. 2006a). In regard to hunting technologies, dart points and/or spearheads coexisted with new types of

Figure 4.2 Clay pipe; San Francisco Culture (1500–400 B.C.E.), Northwest Argentina. Collection of Museo Arqueológico R. P. Gustavo Le Paige (photography by Fernando).

Rock Art, Modes of Production, and Social Identities


projectile points whose shape and size seem to correspond to arrows (De Souza 2004, 2006). Undoubtedly, the acquisition of the bow and arrow would have increased the productivity of hunting activities, thereby satisfying the high demand for the products of this activity at a time when the new organization of the labour force may have limited the number of individuals able to perform such tasks. All evidence indicates, therefore, that the old hunting practices did not fade away with the advent of an economy based on domesticated resources but were assimilated and became a fundamental part of the new economic and social scenario. The socioeconomic form that emerged during the Early Formative period integrated a series of productive activities. Some of these were new, whereas others – such as the former hunting practices – intensified during this period. These changes undoubtedly influenced the social division of labour and productive relationships. Pastoral-husbandry activity was essential to maintain herds for the interregional trading circuit, an activity that provided access to sumptuary goods that were used actively for ritual purposes, especially as offerings and for ceremonial consumption (Núñez et al. 2006b). While pastoralism contributed to the symbolic reproduction of society, hunting acquired importance for subsistence, at the same time generating raw material for the creation of prestige goods such as textile objects, including the products of mining activity to satisfy the demands of trade. In this complex intermeshing of productive activities, it is highly likely that competition and political and economic inequalities were generated among them, which in turn engendered new social leadership configurations and the conditions for the emergence of new social identities.

Rock Art, Style, and Content during the Early Formative Period (ca. 1500–400 B.C.E.) Diverse contextual elements indicate the coexistence of two styles of rock art during the Early Formative period in the Atacama Desert (Table 4.1), known as the Confluencia style and the Taira Tulán style (see Berenguer 2004; Gallardo, Sinclaire, and Silva 1999). Camelid head engravings corresponding to the latter style have been found on rock faces within a ceremonial structure to the south of the Atacama Salt Flats. Radiometric ages indicate that this early settlement was occupied between 1500 B.C.E. and 400 B.C.E. (Núñez et al. 2006a:97). In contrast, the Confluencia style is associated with this period mainly because of its relationship of superposition with Taira Tulán figures. Our records of Confluencia style camelids both superimposed on and underneath


Chapter 4

Table 4.1 Comparison of main characteristics between Confluencia and Taira Tulán styles Characteristics

Confluencia Style

Taira Tulán Style

Form Technique Size Composition Superposition Placement

Naturalistic Painted Regular Scenic No Rock shelter

Naturalistic Engraving/Picto engraving Variable Conglomerates Yes Large rock face

Figure 4.3 Incomplete camelid Taira Tulán style (engraved) in superposition over camelids Confluencia style (red ochre); detail, site 2Loa67/3 (drawing Bernadita Brancoli).

Taira Tulán style camelids suggest that both styles operated within the same period (Figure 4.3). Another clue to the relative chronology is provided by the artefacts represented in the rock art. Plant fibre skirts, darts, and spear throwers are found frequently during the Archaic period of Chile’s Norte Grande but do not disappear in the Early Formative period. Moreover, excavations under the panels of two of this Confluencia style’s most important sites (one of them with a Taira Tulán camelid) have shown initial occupations from the same period, aged at 1400 B.C.E. to 500 B.C.E. (Gallardo 2001:95). The Confluencia style consists mainly of small figures painted in red pigment with the forms visually represented in two dimensions. Here, the camelids are the principal subject, often far outnumbering humans.

Rock Art, Modes of Production, and Social Identities


They are shown with anatomical detail, generally as animated or moving figures. Almost all are in profile and usually appear in group scenes (see Gallardo, Sinclaire, and Silva 1999). Notable among these scenes are moving herds, animals feeding their young, camelid fighting scenes, hunters with spears and darts, and hunting by encirclement (see González 2002; Montt 2004) (Figure 4.4). In strictly stylistic terms, according to our current knowledge of the Atacameñan region the paintings following the Confluencia style have been found from the Upper Loa River at least to the southeastern section of the Atacama Salt Flats.2 This distribution is similar to the Taira Tulán style, which, as Berenguer (1995) has correctly deduced, constitutes a regionwide visual system. All the Taira Tulán figures are presented in two dimensions and, like the paintings described above, have cutouts and unfolding of some animal parts outside the viewer’s perspective that enabled the artist to include all four limbs and both ears on a single plane. Unlike the Confluencia style, the Taira Tulán style assemblages are conglomerates of images resulting from multiple aggregations rather than scenes. All the figures are produced by percussion and scraping, and only a few bodies are painted red or show traces of this colour. In regard to size, a proportional formula can be detected that allowed the production of different sized figures, in contrast to the small size and more or less regular length and width of the Confluencia style figures. Another distinctive feature is the representation of partial rather than complete camelids, specifically heads, vulvas, and tails. All these attributes are characteristic of the Taira Tulán style, which also displays other graphic features, such as superposition, which is not limited to carving one figure over another but includes recarving of existing grooves and the addition of new lines and figures to preexisting ones (Gallardo 2001) (Figure 4.5). This is evidence of sequential actions; but as they are of the same style, they must have occurred over a limited period of time. Indeed, given the number of Taira Tula style panels, the time between successive superpositions could have been quite short. Although both styles exhibit numerous camelids, until recently we had no methodological instruments to distinguish wild from domesticated animals. Nevertheless, armed with greater knowledge of the morphological changes prompted by domestication, we have begun to overcome this limitation.3 Although preliminary, our measurements, as well as the previously mentioned descriptions, permit us to confirm that wild camelids exhibit distinctive extremity-to-body ratios. These ratios in domesticated species are nearly equal, but in wild camelids they vary between 1.38:1 and 1.8:1. In other words, in wild camelids the hindquarters are longer relative to


Chapter 4

Figure 4.4 Hunters painted with spear thrower and darts and camelids (red and yellow); site 2Loa15/13; Confluencia style (drawing Bernadita Brancoli).

Rock Art, Modes of Production, and Social Identities


Figure 4.5 Engraved Taira Tulán style; site 2Loa10/1, Toconce River, Atacama Desert (photography by Francisco Gallardo). the front quarters and both exhibit higher values relative to the animal’s body size. The opposite is true among domestic camelids, for which a more equal relation between front and hindquarters has been recorded. (Gallardo and Yacobaccio 2005:120)

The representational context of the Confluencia style – such as the hunting scene with a circle of humanlike figures holding spears and darts – suggests the presence of wild camelids (such as vicuñas or guanacos). This reading is supported by morphological and comparative analyses, which reveal indexes closer to vicuñas than guanacos. Although the camelid engravings corresponding to the Taira Tulán style do not depict beasts of burden, the morphological study suggests that they are llamas. The Confluencia and Taira Tulán styles are not only different; in a number of aspects they are mutually exclusive. Their production techniques, the number and nature of their designs and their relative size and composition create openly contradictory visual conditions. They are distinct artistic solutions whose codes of expression suggest precise contents. In semiological terms, each has its own ‘language’. However, for their elements and associations to differ consistently to a significant degree, they must operate within a ‘domain of legitimacy’ that is somehow exclusive of their own (Benveniste 1995). In other words, their


Chapter 4

installation in cultural landscapes of which they are part and which they create at the same time, should be equally distinctive. All human communities organize the physical space in which they live, dividing it into segments and hierarchies, producing planes of continuity and rupture, creating order at different levels of meaning (Foucault 1984). The Confluencia paintings are often associated with rock shelters with uneven painting surfaces. Though usually found inside these shelters, in some cases there are panels adjoining the protected area. In contrast, the Taira Tulán engravings are often found on ravine walls, and many of them can be seen from afar. Their placement in the open and the large scale of many of the figures enable this visibility. This differential spatial distribution in the placement of the figures has an associated logic. Although to date the record is limited, the Taira Tulán rock art known today is often found in ravine confluences and/or close to springs, and in most cases is not directly related to residential sites. In contrast, most of the panels of the Confluencia style are found in association with rock shelters, and in three Salado River excavation sites with such paintings we have found evidence of early formative occupation that indicates maintenance of stone instruments and few faunal remains that are generally very fragmented.

Rock Art, Modes of Production, and Social Identity The diversification and intensification of economic activity that occurred in the Early Formative period caused a profound restructuring of the social division of labour and modes of production. The rock art works discussed herein were produced in this social and economic context; through them the former inhabitants of the region expressed, and at the same time ideologically constructed, aspects of the cultural change they were experiencing. As stated, the formal or manifest content of the Confluencia style paintings is closely associated with humans bearing weapons (spears and darts), the ethology of wild camelids, and encirclement hunting practices in which these same animals are captured – a traditional Andean practice known as chacu. The presence of darts and spear throwers in the art is especially important because, as we have indicated, the bow-and-arrow system was part of the technological repertory of that time (De Souza 2004, 2006). This suggests that the Confluencia panels evoke older hunting techniques whose collective nature makes reference to a context of social organization that, in the Andes as in other parts of the world, usually held important symbolic, economic, and social connotations, especially those associated with redistributive practices among broad social levels (Custred 1979). The historical context suggests that this image is ideological

Rock Art, Modes of Production, and Social Identities


since, while hunting produced food and raw material, trade enabled the acquisition and administration of goods with a high symbolic and social value. During the Early Formative period economic roles diversified, and the social distinctions that emerged undoubtedly came into conflict with those of the existing hunting subsistence mode. The rhetoric of the Confluencia images seems to offer an exegesis of the hunt and of the technical and symbolic social organization associated with collective hunting using spear throwers and darts, a material practice that was elevated to the realm of social prestige, remaining intact until the time of the Incas. Nevertheless, the graphic eloquence of the paintings was not limited to the exercise of the image but also included its placement. Almost all the known designs were placed in rocky shelters whose light deposits (where these existed) indicated the maintenance of stone instruments and the consumption of camelids and rodents. The space the rock art occupied, its representation and form, acted on human practice and circulation. Relating these to the complex rationalization imposed on the settlement system, in which different activities tended to be carried out in different places, one clearly sees that a realm of particular intimacy and functionality was chosen for the Confluencia rock art. Moreover, the Confluencia paintings are small in size and delicately executed; they cannot be observed from afar but require the viewer’s close presence to be effective. Whereas the Confluencia paintings seem to find their place within the privacy of rocky shelters, the Taira Tulán engravings are placed in open spaces and cover a greater area, with camelid designs often approaching life size. The sites are usually on ravine walls, while the panels present a mismatched assortment of designs related by overlaying that, as described above, is not restricted to the superposition of one figure over another. Undoubtedly, this caused their highly visible effect, which is greater than any other early rock art style of the Atacama region. Some of the Taira Tulán works can be seen even from the back of the ravine. In addition, the art is often located close to pathways or residential sites, whose multifunctional characteristics and permanence are a far cry from the rock shelters housing the Confluencia art. In visual terms, therefore, the Taira Tulán art is highly accessible. Nonetheless, its form does not have the ‘narrative’ eloquence of the Confluencia art but seems to lend more importance to the number and succession of graphic operations introduced into the works. Many of the technical aspects suggest that these ‘open works’ were constantly revisited. Indeed, in addition to the classic superposition, we have recorded camelids drawn from other preexisting ones, retracing of some lines and on occasion addition of multiple lines. This evidence is highly significant, because it indicates that the symbolic effectiveness


Chapter 4

of the engravings derived more from action within the work itself than from the passive contemplation suggested by the fine, delicate Confluencia scenes. Nevertheless, the fact that domestic livestock is depicted in herds with no reference to its role in trade – a theme that would become popular in the rock art of the Late period of regional prehistory (800–1470 C.E.), when agriculture was the dominant productive process – seems to be an ideological resource. The Confluencia and Taira Tulán styles are an expression of the collective imagination of communities on a regional scale. However, while they contributed similarities, they also provided distinguishing aspects. These distinctions operate as an artistic indication of two social identities associated with forms of economic production during the Early Formative period – hunting and pastoralism, two modes of subsistence that affected social life and restructured the political economy of the time. Based on what we know today, hunting made an important contribution to subsistence and symbolism, whereas pastoralism promoted social roles and ritual activities not registered in the previous Archaic period. In this historical and cultural context, the Confluencia and Taira Tulán styles appear as practical manifestations of the collective imagination, revealing the presence of two economic interest groups that, despite their technological and social differences, had to share the same productive territory. Both styles are distributed over the territory used for hunting and husbandry, modes of subsistence that seem to exist only in social harmony.

Conclusion Technique, form, and location define the way in which all rock art operates. But as Wobst (1977) has suggested, the longer the life span of an artefact that is produced by a stylistic behaviour, the greater the possibility that the information it contains will be visually received. This is certainly the case of the styles under consideration herein; the artists not only gave their works the necessary permanence by combining productive technology and placement but also distributed them over a broad, yet very precise geographical and ecological space. This area of foothill ravines was the stage on which hunting and pastoral activities developed and where the main residential centres were established. Certainly, the presence of these styles at the regional level had an intergroup effect, and there is little doubt that they contributed to conveying and objectifying the most important social distinctions of this era. These findings are consistent with the formal content of the Taira Tulán and Confluencia styles; as the morphological analyses suggest, the camelids of the former were llamas and those of the latter were

Rock Art, Modes of Production, and Social Identities


vicuñas or guanacos, in a representational context that alludes both to herds of domesticated and herds of wild animals. This provides a visual indicator of at least two social identities that participated jointly in the process of change that occurred during this period, two identities that, out of infrastructural necessity, favoured networks of intercommunity alliances at the regional level (see Gamble 1983). This makes us turn our attention back to the social life and the critical process experienced by the communities of the Early Formative period, an era that marked the transition between one mode of production in which the fruits of social labour were probably redistributed (Late Archaic), and another in which wealth produced through trade could be appropriated individually (Late Formative). In its own way, art bears witness to the profound social contradictions to be found when two modes of life – the hunting way of life, legitimized by history and solid tradition, and the new way of life based on the husbandry of llamas – promoted new social roles and a surplus economy never seen before. However, it was not the husbandry of herds of domesticated camelids that came into conflict with the hunter’s social organization but the unprecedented emergence of trading in goods activated by a new form of transport. Moreover, for the most part, these goods did not contribute to subsistence but to collective ceremonial activities that fostered social integration. It is precisely in this regard that rock art operated as ideology: The two forms of visual expression that reflected (among other functions and meanings) the fine balance maintained between these two antithetical social identities were the collective imagination’s solution to the contradictions inherent in the economic and social process underway. As the domestication of camelids occurred in the context of archaic hunters, it should be considered an extension of this way of life. In fact, current records of camelids in the rock art of the Late Archaic period – known as the Kalina or Puripica style – suggest widespread distributional and stylistic homogeneity throughout the region (Berenguer 2004; Núñez and Santoro 1988). Nonetheless, this archaic style did not last into the following period but was replaced by representations (Confluencia and Taira Tulán style) that each express its own cultural and economic attitudes toward camelids, and therefore toward the social identity of those who handled them and represented them in rock art. The settlement system during this period suggests an organization that was mostly subordinated to large- and small-scale hunting, and although subsistence at the domestic level depended on these practices, pastoralism and trade (production, acquisition of goods, and caravans) must have generated their own reproductive benefits at the broader community level. Perhaps this is why the Confluencia paintings were installed in the intimacy of rocky shelters and the Taira Tulán works


Chapter 4

located in places that were open to viewing and to action. Nevertheless, the important differences in the formal content of each style must be noted. The Confluencia style is dominated by scenes that speak of relations among humans, among animals, and between these two groups, with the clear presence of men with weapons and cooperatively organized hunts. In contrast, the Taira Tulán style lent more importance to camelid units and not relationships, without making any visual reference to their role in the traffic of goods (the subject of laden camelids that would become popular in the rock art of the Late period). If we consider all art depicting the visible as an attempt to relate, on the material level, truths of the collective imagination, to express and to establish content, then it should not surprise us that the cultural traditions related to hunting were manifested in the art of this period and not before – during the regional Archaic period – when the existence and the hegemony of this activity permeated the daily lives of these communities and required no legitimation. Its appearance in art was a residual reaction (that nonetheless compensated for its importance to subsistence at the time) to the advancement of new concepts and pastoral identities, whose effects on the landscape were not only ostensible but under active construction and modification. Evidently, this contradiction did not take the form of an open conflict over space or resources. Instead, it was expressed as a cultural practice aimed at ideologically integrating two lifestyles and social identities whose apparent complementarity grew less and less reconcilable as the exotic goods obtained through the caravan trade were actively used in organizing, reproducing, and establishing new distinctions and hierarchies in the symbolic reproduction of this social form.

Acknowledgments We would like to thank the research teams in the Salado River area who generously collaborated with our investigation. We also express our gratitude to Lautaro Núñez for authorizing the excerpts of his articles awaiting publication. Finally, we wish to express our appreciation to our pastoral friends in Turi for their hospitality. This paper was possible due to Project Grant #01980200 of the National Science and Technology Fund (FONDECYT).

Endnotes 1. Quoted in English: ch01a.htm#p28. 2. Until recently the Confluencia style seemed to be limited to the Salado River basin, but information on the panels found east of the Atacama Salt Flats heretofore unknown to the authors (Barthel et al. 1959:173) and other more recent data (Llagostera 2004:18;

Rock Art, Modes of Production, and Social Identities


Núñez et al. 1997:Figure 2) have led us to reconsider our spatial definitions to acknowledge its presence even in sites such as Taira (upper course of the Loa River), where engraved figures of hunters with darts have been registered. These exhibit many of the features proper to the Confluencia style (see Berenguer 2004:Figure 7). 3. In general, major variations in an animal population are related to age and sex, as age differences and sexual dimorphism affect animal size. However, body proportions, or ‘anatomical design’, are more constant, especially among camelids, because sex is monomorphic. Body measure was taken on the back of the animal, in its broadest section, approximately at the eighth thoracic vertebrae. Limbs were measured in their full length from the proximal humerus and femoral epiphysis to the mid-plantar area (cf Gallardo and Yacobaccio 2005:120).

References Althusser, L. 1986. ‘Ideología y aparatos ideológicos del Estado’. In Althusser (ed.), La Filosofía como arma de la revolución. Mexico: Ediciones pasado y presente, 97–141. Barthel, T., C. Munizaga, and A. Medina. 1959. ‘Nota preliminar sobre las pinturas parietales de los refugios de Sirantur’, Boletín Americanista 3:171–75. Benavente, M. 1982. ‘Chiu-Chiu 200: Una comunidad pastora temprana en la provincia del Loa (II Región) 2’, Actas del IX Congreso Nacional de Arqueología Chilena. La Serena, Chile: 75–94. Benveniste, E. 1995. ‘Semiología de la lengua’. In Benveniste (ed.), Problemas de lingüística general II. Mexico: Siglo veintiuno editors, 47–69. Berenguer, J. 1995. ‘El arte rupestre de Taira dentro de los problemas de la arqueología atacameña’, Chungara 27(1):7–43. ———. 2004. ‘Cinco milenios de arte rupestre en los andes atacameños: Imágenes para lo humano, imágenes para lo divino’, Boletín del Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino 9:75–108. Bourdieu, P. 1983. ‘Campo intelectual, campo de poder y habitus de clase’. In Bourdieu (ed.), Campo de poder y campo intelectual. Buenos Aires: Folios Ediciones, 11–35. ———. 1988. Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Cartajena, I. 1994. ‘Determinación de restos óseos de camélidos en dos yacimientos del Loa medio (II Región)’, Estudios Atacameños 11:25–52. Cartajena, I., L. Núñez, and M. Grosjean. 2003. ‘Los camélidos en la vertiente occidental de la Puna de Atacama: Una visión desde el Arcaico Temprano al Formativo Temprano’. In III Taller Internacional de Zooarqueología de Camélidos Sudamericanos. Instituto Interdisciplinario de Tilcara-UBA, 21–24 de agosto 2003. Conkey, M. 1978. ‘Style and information in cultural evolution: Toward a predictive model for the Paleolithic’. In C. Redman et al. (eds.), Social Archaeology. New York: Academic Press, 61–85. Custred, G. 1979. ‘Hunting technologies in andean culture’, Journal de la Société des Américanistes LXVI:7–19. De Souza, P. 2004. ‘Tecnologías de proyectil durante los períodos Arcaico y Formativo en el Loa Superior (Norte de Chile): Una aproximación a partir del análisis de puntas líticas’, Chungara Volumen especial:61–76. ———. 2006. ‘Los sistemas de proyectiles durante el proceso arcaico-formativo de la puna de Atacama: Una aproximación desde el análisis de las puntas de proyectil de quebrada Tulán’. Tesis para optar al grado de Magíster en Antropología. Universidad Católica del Norte, Antofagasta. Foucault, M. 1984. ‘Des espaces autres’, AMC Revue d’Architecture Oct:46–49. Gallardo, F. 2001. ‘Arte rupestre y emplazamiento durante el Formativo Temprano en la cuenca del río salado (Desierto de Atacama, norte de Chile)’, Boletín del Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino 8:81–95.


Chapter 4

Gallardo, F., and H. Yacobaccio. 2005. ‘Wild or domesticated? Camelids in early formative rock art of the Atacama Desert (Northern Chile)’, Latin American Antiquity 16(2):115–30. Gallardo, F., C. Sinclaire, and C. Silva. 1999. ‘Arte rupestre, emplazamiento y paisaje en la cordillera del desierto de Atacama’. In J. Berenguer and F. Gallardo (eds.), Arte rupestre en los andes de Capricornio. Santiago: Santiago Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, 57–96. Gallardo, F., V. Castro, and P. Miranda. 1999. ‘Riders on the storm: Rock art in the Atacama Desert (Northern Chile)’, World Archaeology 31(2):225–42. Gamble, C. 1983. ‘Culture and society in the Upper Paleolithic of Europe’. In G. Bailey (ed.), Hunter-Gatherer Economy in Prehistory: A European Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 201–11. González, J. 2002. ‘Etología de camélidos y arte rupestre de la subregión río Salado (norte de Chile, II región)’, Estudios Atacameños 23:23–32. Gramsci, A. 1985. Introducción al estudio de la filosofía. Barcelona: Editorial Crítica. Hodder, I. 1979. ‘Economic and social stress and material culture patterning’, American Antiquity 44(3):446–54. ———. 1992. ‘Material culture, symbolism and ideology’. In I. Hodder (ed.), Theory and Practice in Archaeology. London: Routledge, 201–12. Holden, T. 1991. ‘Evidence of prehistoric diet from northern Chile: Coprolites, gut contents and flotation samples from the Tulán Quebrada’, World Archaeology 22(3):320–31. Jones, S. 1997. The Archaeology of Ethnicity. London: Routledge. Leone, M. 1982. ‘Some opinions about recovering mind’, American Antiquity 47(4):742–60. Lewis-Williams, J. D. 1982. ‘The economic and social context of southern San rock art’, Current Anthropology 23:429–49. Llagostera, M. A. 2004. Los antiguos habitantes del salar de Atacama: Prehistoria Atacameña. Providencia-Santiago: Pehuén Editores. Marx, K., and Engels, F. 1968 [1846]. La ideología alemana. Montevideo: Ediciones Pueblos Unidos. Montt, I. 2004. ‘Elementos de atuendo e imagen rupestre en la subregión del río Salado (Región del Loa Superior)’, Chungara Volumen especial:651–62. Arica. Núñez, L. 1994. ‘Emergencia de complejidad y arquitectura jerarquizada en la puna de Atacama: Las evidencias del sitio Tulán-54’. In M. E. Albeck (ed.), Taller De costa a selva. Buenos Aires: Instituto Interdisciplinario de Tilcara, 85–115. Núñez, L., and C. Santoro. 1988. ‘Cazadores de la puna seca y salada del área centro-sur Andina (norte de Chile)’, Estudios Atacameños 9:3–59. Núñez, L., and T. Dillehay. 1995. Movilidad giratoria, armonía social y desarrollo en los Andes Meridionales: Patrones de tráfico e interacción económica. Antofagasta, Chile: Universidad Católica del Norte. Núñez, L., M. Grosjean, and I. Cartajena. 2002. ‘Human occupations and climate change in the Puna de Atacama, Chile’, Science 298:821–24. Núñez, L., I. Cartajena, C. Carrasco, P. De Souza, and M. Grosjean. 2006a. ‘Emergencia de comunidades pastoralistas formativas en el sureste de la puna de Atacama’, Estudios Atacameños 31:93–117. ———. 2006b. ‘El Templete Tulán de la Puna de Atacama: Emergencia de complejidad ritual durante el formativo temprano (Norte de Chile)’, Latin American Antiquity 17(4):445–73. Plog, S. 1983. ‘Analysis of style in artefacts’, Annual Review of Anthropology 12:125–42. Rees, C., and P. De Souza. 2004. ‘Producción lítica durante el Periodo Formativo en la subregiòn del río Salado (norte de Chile)’, Chungara Volumen especial:453–65. Arica. Torres, C., and D. Repke. 2006. Anadenanthera: Visionary Plant of Ancient South America. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Herbal Press.

Rock Art, Modes of Production, and Social Identities


Whitley, D. 1994. ‘By the hunter, for the gatherer: Art, social relations and subsistence change in the prehistoric Great Basin’, World Archaeology 25(3):356–72. Williams, R. 1980. Marxismo y literatura. Barcelona: Ediciones Península. Wobst, D. 1977. ‘Stylistic behaviour and information exchange’, Anthropological Papers of the University of Michigan 61:317–42. Yacobaccio, D., D. Elkin, and D. Olivera. 1994. ‘¿El fin de las sociedades cazadoras? El proceso de domesticación animal en los Andes Centro-sur’. In J. L. Lanata and L. A. Borrero (eds.), ‘Arqueología de Cazadores-Recolectores: Límites, casos y aperturas’, Arqueología Contemporánea 5:23–32.

CHAPTER 5 From the Form to the Artists: Changing Identities in Levantine Rock Art (Spain) Inés Domingo Sanz

In rock art, as in any other kind of material culture, there are many ways for artists to encode information about their social identity. Style has became a valuable tool (see, for example, Boast 1997; Carr and Neitzel 1995; Conkey 1989; Conkey and Hastorf 1990; Hegmon 1992; Lorblanchet and Bahn 1993; Plog 1983; Smith 1996; Wobst 1999; and so on) in the decoding of this social information, despite the controversy about its validity as a chronological marker (Lorblanchet and Bahn 1993). Even if style is a complex concept, with different implications in different contexts and regions, the current constraints governing the direct dating of rock paintings (Fortea 2002; Pettitt and Bahn 2003; Valladas and Clottes 2003; and others), or the difficulties to obtain enough absolute dates to establish the duration of certain conventions or artistic techniques, or the different episodes recorded in one site or to make connections between the motifs of different sites or different regions (Clottes 1997:50) explain the usefulness of stylistic studies when establishing the relative chronology of rock art. Certainly, chronometrics and style should complement each other to approach the study of rock art (see Rosenfeld and Smith 1997). However, current difficulties with obtaining absolute dates for rock art explain why this study of Levantine rock art is based on stylistic analysis. In Levantine rock art, stylistic studies have mainly examined where formal features of individual motifs intersect or diverge. Within this approach, likeness and affinities have been interpreted as synchrony, and as a common tradition or culture, whereas differences have been interpreted as reflecting diachrony, and as diverse traditions or cultures. However, synchronic variations could also be due to different functions or regional changes related to the territorial behaviour of humans and appear not only in the formal features of rock art but also in the themes represented, and in patterns of composition, addition, and distribution. This chapter explores the stylistic study of Levantine 99


Chapter 5

rock art as a way of discerning changes in the identity of the artists on the basis of a regional study of the Levantine human figure. The key finding is that Levantine rock art, normally considered to be a unified tradition, contains clear stylistic sequences. This study has important implications for current debates concerning the evolution of human behaviours in this region. For example, while Levantine rock art is characterised as dealing primarily with hunting scenes, this study demonstrates that, when humans appear for the first time in the art, they are not linked to hunting scenes and that hunting themes emerge only in the middle parts of the sequence. These conclusions emerge from a theoretical analysis of the concept of style and the search for an appropriate methodology to discern connections and disconnections in representation, as a way of obtaining social information.

What Is Levantine Rock Art? Levantine rock art is one of the main rock art traditions located in the Mediterranean slope of the Iberian Peninsula (Figure 5.1). Chronology and sequence are the two main challenges confronting archaeologists since this art was discovered at the beginning of last century, and they still inform major ongoing discussions. While rock art and other archaeological sites of different chronologies share the same landscapes, they are difficult to interrelate unless archaeological deposits totally or partially cover the rock art, or there are clear parallels with portable art. Currently, the most widely accepted hypothesis ascribes it to different moments within the Neolithic (VI–IV millennium B.P.). The discovery of a new rock art tradition, the Macroesquemathic rock art, in the early 1980s, with parallels in Early Neolithic pottery, constitutes a minimum date for Levantine rock art, since some Levantine motifs cover the former in several rock shelters (Hernández, Ferrer, and Catalá 1988). However, discussion about the identity of the artists and their modes of subsistence remains open: were they the last hunter-gatherers painting as a reaction against the arrival of Neolithic groups coming from the Middle East (Bernabeu 2000; Fortea and Aura 1987; Utrilla 2002; Villaverde and Martínez 2002:194)? Or, were they Neolithic groups that changed their artistic style once they had adapted to a new landscape (Martí 2003; Martí and Juan-Cabanilles 2002; Molina, García-Puchol, and García-Robles 2003)? The predominance of hunting scenes in the rock art panels has been used to argue for hunter-gatherer economy of the artists. However, hunting activities were also developed during the Neolithic and later periods, and, as this study reveals, when humans appear for the first time in Levantine rock art they are not linked to hunting scenes. So the

From the Form to the Artists


Valltorta-Gasulla Gorges Castellón Valencia


40 80 120 160 200 km

Figure 5.1 Geographical distribution of Levantine rock art (Spain) and location of the studied area.

subject matter cannot be used as the basis for a specific chronology, since this would mean confusing recognition or literal reading of rock art with its meaning. The answer is even more complex, since major changes in the rock art panels reveal that Levantine rock art can no longer be consider as a whole, even if some shared features reflect a general common tradition. Openair sites are selected as a canvas to reproduce different sorts of dynamic and realistic activities (hunting, collecting honey, warrior scenes, and so on). Thin and modelling lines reproduce naturalistic humans and animals, whose anatomy and adornments are visible only in silhouette. But beyond these common features, superimpositions and important variations in form, themes, and techniques exhibit a complex and lasting tradition whose internal variations reflect the changing identities of the authors in space and time. These changes are especially evident when one is analysing human figures, since large naturalistic humans with sumptuous adornments and dresses coexist with other unadorned and disproportioned figures or even linear micro-figures at the end of the sequence. Even if those differences were interpreted as indicating that


Chapter 5

these figures are not simple or ‘normal’ humans (as recorded among some of the humans included in the Centelles horizon), more than as time and/or culture specific conventions, the superimpositions confirm that at least some of these differences are more than functional (in the sense of representing different beings in the same artistic tradition), and therefore point to changes in time and/or culture. Previous researchers also perceived these changes and tried to reconstruct a sequence. The first hypotheses assessed the global characterization of this art on the basis of a site (Almagro 1952; Breuil 1920; Cabré 1915), a nucleus (Obermaier and Wernert 1919) or the whole Levantine area (Beltrán 1968; Blasco 1981; Ripoll 1960; and so on). But the resulting sequences were too linear, since they were almost exclusively based on the formal analysis of individual motifs and paid little attention to their thematic context and the potential existence of synchronic regional variations. At the end of the last century, researchers focused on the temporary and spatial amplitude of this art (Fortea and Aura 1987:119; Martí and Hernández 1988:89–90), and, within this context, different regional studies arose (Galiana 1992 or Alonso and Grimal 1996; Piñón 1982; Viñas 1982). These studies identified regional specificities, linked to the territorial behaviour of the human groups, and specific evolutionary sequences. However, the resulting proposals again were based on the form of individual motifs, rather than on themes and patterns of composition, and they still failed to consider the possible coexistence of different styles with different functions. Levantine rock art needs to be reconsidered against this background, especially in terms of providing an exhaustive understanding of specific geographical areas (for example, Domingo et al. 2003; Domingo et al. In press; Martínez and Villaverde 2002). For this reason, this paper focuses on the human motifs from Valltorta-Gasulla gorges (Castelló) (Figure 5.1) and, more specifically, on six rock art sites (Cova dels Cavalls II, Coves de la Saltadora VII, VIII, and IX, Mas d’en Josep, Cingle de la Mola Remigia IX, Coves del Civil III, and Abric de Centelles), with enough motifs (between 60 and 150 each) and internal variations to establish an initial artistic sequence within Levantine rock art.

Toward an Updated Definition of Style Throughout history, humans, as social beings, have developed different strategies to establish identity in their daily lives, either as individuals or as members of a group. The ways in which we do this makes us similar or different from one another, irrespective of whether we are consciously emphasizing our own identity by acting in a different

From the Form to the Artists


way (Hodder 1990; Wiessner 1988, 1990) or simply reproducing the traditional patterns or rules learned in a specific context (Sackett 1986:270), in the manner that Bourdieu defines as ‘habitus’ (Bourdieu 1977). As a consequence, the material objects that are the result of human actions may encode different levels of social information, including the social identity of the authors. The question that arises is this: in which aspects of an artefact is social information encoded? And, most importantly, how can archaeologists decode this social information? Information encoded in an artefact is fully meaningful only to those who are familiar with the society or culture in which it was produced. Because of this, only a small portion of the social information contained in artefacts can be decoded in situations where ethnographic information is not available. Archaeologists have long been searching for an appropriate way for discerning traces of identity and ethnicity when analyzing material remains. In this context, style has become a valuable tool for making inferences about the chronological and the regional variability of past cultural systems. But what is style? And where does it reside in a material object? In this chapter, style is considered as a way of doing (Hodder 1990; Wiessner 1990); it refers to the individual character an artist imbues into the work of art, combining personal interpretation and choices within the rules regulating the artistic expressions of a specific period and context. Almost all communities tolerate certain levels of idiosyncratic behaviour on the part of a few individuals, and as a consequence stylistic changes can refer to many different social units, from a single individual to a social group. However, this study goes beyond the analysis of individuals in order to identify general trends, the most common practices, and the overall changes in the behaviour of entire groups. This chapter interprets the relative homogeneity of stylistic expressions as reflecting continuity in social practices (at both temporal and spatial levels) and divergence as indicating discontinuity, rupture, or territoriality. When talking about material objects, marks of identity may be encoded at any stage of the production process (Leroi-Gourhan’s 1964 notion of Chaine Operatoire), whether they be formal attributes (form and decoration), technological attributes (techniques and medium), or functional attributes (including both utilitarian functions, related to the material use of an artefact; and non-utilitarian ones, related to social, ideological, or spiritual spheres) (Sackett 1977:370) (see Domingo 2005 for a more detailed discussion). In rock art, these marks of identity may appear at any stage of the creative process, not only in the formal attributes (form, motifs and themes, composition, and addition patterns), always considered the more likely to provide social information, but also in


Chapter 5

the technological and functional ones (selected location and support, raw material, recipes and instruments, and so on), since two different styles can be produced by the same human group according to different functions, whether these be ceremonial or daily activities, or for teaching purposes, and so forth (Layton 1991:151; Schapiro 1953:294; Smith 1996:253). However, the coexistence of two different styles in the same rock shelter is not compatible with a social structuring of the landscape that reserves specific areas to specific activities, as it is common in human societies: while more than one style can exist in society at the same time, major stylistic forms are usually confined to distinct geographic areas. Therefore, when recording two different styles in the same rock art shelter we assume some temporal elapse between these interventions.

Methods In any artistic or cultural expression artists select specific traits as distinctive marks of their own identity. However, in an archaeological study it is difficult to establish ‘a priori’ those parameters that will provide stylistic information about the artists. Therefore, the starting point of such studies has to be an exhaustive study of all the descriptive features of an artefact as the basis for a comparative analysis that focuses on regularities and differences in the manner of production. In this chapter, I argue that the aesthetic criteria of the artist and the epoch can be identified in three main facets of Levantine rock art: 1. The individual motifs, in which the artist plays with size, form (proportions and modelling), and mode of manufacture (technique and medium) to create his or her own style. 2. The themes. 3. The relationships between motifs, as shown in patterns of composition and addition, since different rules may exist in each artistic episode.

To determine these variations, this study considers three levels of analysis: the formal variations of motifs, patterns of addition, association and distribution with individual rock shelters, and patterns of spatial distribution within a regional context.

1. Formal Variations of Individual Motifs The rock art in this study was analysed according to different descriptive categories. However, neither the individual animation (the analysis of the movement as it is suggested by the postures of the different anatomical parts, in themselves and in relation with one another; see Leroi-Gourhan 1983) nor the individual perspective (the spatial relations among the

From the Form to the Artists


different anatomical features, since different anatomical features are often represented according to diverse points of view; see Leroi-Gourhan 1983:31–36) revealed variations among the different horizons. Therefore, the key for distinguishing among human types became the analysis of these figures’ anatomical proportions (especially the trunk/extremities ratio), anatomical modelling of the figures and the presence or absence of costumes, adornments (headdresses, bracelets, belts, and so on), and other complementary equipment (armament, bundle, and bags).

2. Patterns of Addition, Association, and Distribution within the Rock Shelter The analysis of form was augmented by recording of the relationships between motifs, in order to reconstruct the chronological sequence of each rock art site. When no superimposition was present, it was important to look for remains of the execution process (repaintings, transformations, changes in the location of motifs or their anatomical parts owing to problems when trying to fit them in, and so forth). The patterns of overlap provided a sequence of painting events. However, superimpositions can be the result of a wide range of time differences (from a short period of time to thousands of years), and that temporal lapse cannot be determined from a stylistic study. The purpose of this study, then, was to establish a stylistic sequence rather than absolute dates per se. To do this, two different aspects of the art were meticulously analysed: the topographic structuring of the site and the way motifs were added. a. Topographic Structuring of the Site. The spatial use of rock surfaces changes among the different phases, as some artists select wide surfaces to reproduce extensive scenes, while others reduce the drawing space to smaller units. Therefore, it is difficult to establish internal sections of rock surfaces that match the original conceptions held by Levantine painters. As a heuristic device to facilitate description of the art, the rock art sites were divided on the basis of their topographic features and analysed in terms of rock shelters, cavities, and units (see Domingo and López-Montalvo 2002:76–77). The aim was to determine which of these were chosen in each artistic episode. b. Addition of Motifs. The artist´s decisions can play an important role in the way in which motifs are added to the walls. When socializing the landscape, artists occasionally create new cultural spaces but often prefer sites already containing paintings, revealing the importance of the place over the paintings. In this case, they rarely act in a uniform


Chapter 5

way, since some use blank spaces to create new scenes, others add new motifs to previous scenes (either by continuing the former theme or by transforming it) or superpose over previous paintings, suggesting a rupture. Likewise, the artist chooses the size of the field of drawing (coincident with a shelter, a cavity, a unit, or a simple blank space) and the location of motifs in relation to the floor, the ceiling, and previous depictions. Therefore, once types are identified, the next step is to look for regularities in the way the rock surface is used, in order to discover if different rules of composition and arrangement exist. The relationships among motifs were determined by distinguishing between exclusive motifs (a sole motif in one rock shelter), isolated motifs (sharing a shelter but at a distance from other motifs), or compositions (including unrelated motifs, nonscenic associations or scenes). In compositions and scenes, motifs could be added by narrow juxtaposition or partial superimposition (see Leroi-Gourhan 1983:19–23), the latter used as a mode of scenic perspective among synchronous motifs. Likewise, in their spatial arrangement, we may find extensive compositions (dispersed motifs requiring wide visual angles and changes in the position of the artist when painting) or intensive compositions or scenes (with smaller field of hand, requiring a more focused look). Motifs can be aligned in horizontal, oblique, or vertical planes; consecutive, confronted, opposed, symmetric, or dissymmetric lines; and in parallel, echeloned, or radial dispositions. Different alignments are when the line of the floor is not explicitly reproduced but suggested through the location of motifs in the same imaginary line. Finally, following Troncoso (2002), I distinguish between fundamental motifs (forming scenes by themselves) and complementary motifs (those added to previous scenes, either to complement or change the original theme).

3. Patterns of Spatial Distribution in the Regional Context The third facet of the analysis was to determine the spatial distribution of each stylistic phase, in order to probe the degree of regionalism or territoriality of an area in each phase. When looking for parallels I mainly focused on the surrounding areas of the Northwest of Castelló, the Northeast of Teruel and the South of Tarragona, linked by natural geographical corridors. Within this review, I sought to confirm if my observations in the Valltorta-Gasulla nuclei showed continuity beyond these nuclei, and, via comparison, I was able to establish the spatial distribution of isolated phases. My objective was to use the different chronological horizons identified in the Valltorta-Gasulla gorges to

From the Form to the Artists


determine if there was any kind of social relationships between these areas and neighbouring regions.

Typology of the Levantine Human Figures This study of the sites in the Valltorta-Gasulla gorges provided a minimum of six artistic sequences of human figures, each with its own specific formal, thematic, technical, and compositional patterns. Not all the figures depicted at these sites were ascribed to a specific phase, since some of them seemed to be more related to an occasional action of a single individual than to a patterned artistic tradition. The study of scenes, including a large number of humans depicted in a similar manner, led to the establishment of a degree of variation in specific features within each phase. None of the analysed features are exclusive to a specific human type, but a type is defined by the combination of several features. And, although some specific patterns seem to change from one type to the other, others occur in several stylistic episodes, revealing the continuity of certain artistic practices. Owing to the quantitative importance of some human types in specific sites, the names of those sites were used to refer to the human type, except for the Linear variant, defined by the representation technique used by artists, which appears in a large number of sites. The individualized types and their main features are as follows.

1. Centelles Type (Figure 5.2a) Form: Naturalistic, relatively proportioned, medium-large-sized human figures (20–35 cm average), with pearlike heads and massive legs. They show different kind of ornamentation (headdresses, belts, bracelets) and attires (short and long trousers, skirts, or wide pants). Their relative internal variability reveals a focus on individual identity, rather than on a generic group type. Men, women (with breast and/or skirts, but no head adornments), children, and other unusual individuals (with an elongated human body may be representing fantastic beings) are represented. Bows, arrows, big bags, and bundles are part of their equipment. Technique: Monochrome solid infill predominates. The use of bichrome (white over red) was recorded at only one site to reproduce clothes or body decorations. Themes: Only ‘social themes’ are represented (a number of humans taking part in the same action), reproducing territorial marches or people meeting in aggregation sites, both men or entire groups of men, women, and children; individuals who have been wounded with


Chapter 5

Figure 5.2 Variations in the Levantine human figures (photos by V. Villaverde and P. M. Guillem and tracings by I. Domingo and E. López [a, c-f] and B. Mellado [b] in Obermaier and Wernert 1919).

arrows; and a possible procreation scene in which females are depicted alongside phallic males (Figure 5.3). Composition: Motifs are arranged in horizontal and parallel planes, with individuals grouped in couples or trios with their legs partially superimposed as a formula to show the group perspective and cohesion.

From the Form to the Artists



Archers walking

Meetings with men, women, and children


b Social themes


d Individual executions

e Maternity/fertility

CIVIL TYPE f g Hunting activities

Thematic diversification

Social themes


Figure 5.3 Themes represented in the Centelles horizon and the Civil type (tracing by Viñas and Sarriá 1981 [a]; Martinez and Villaverde 2002 [b, f]; Domingo et al. In press [c]; Sarriá 1981 [d, g]; Hernández, Ferrer, and Catalá 1998 [e], Obermaier and Wernert 1919 [h]).

Their patterns of composition and visibility change according to the theme being represented. While marches tend to use the whole rock shelter or a cavity, and especially the upper parts of the walls resulting in very visible scenes, the maternity/fertility scenes tend to concentrate in less visible and smaller parts, perhaps allotted to a more restricted audience.


Chapter 5

Addition: The first motifs depicted in the rock shelters are the Centelles type, shelters, at least in terms of human motifs. The Centelles are fundamental motifs, since they constitute scenes by themselves and never reuse previously depicted animals.

2. Civil Type (Figure 5.2b) Form: Very homogeneous medium-large-sized human figures (20–35 cm average). Their bodies are simplified and deformed by an elongated torso, which contrasts with naturalist legs that draw attention to a muscular modelling of buttocks and calves. Scarce ornamentation contrasts with the great variety of depicted armaments (bows, arrow fasces, quivers). The result seems to be a focus on people as members of a group, rather than as individuals. Only men and women are represented, and no children. Technique: Monochrome red solid infill predominates. The use of bichrome (white over red) has been recorded in only one site to reproduce headdresses and clothes or body decorations. Themes: ‘Social themes’ appear together with hunting scenes, with a selective hunting of deer, both in individual hunts or in parties in which the entire herd is annihilated (Figure 5.3). Composition: Figures are ordered in consecutive dissymmetric parallel alignments. Compositions are created by narrow juxtaposition of motifs, grouped in couples or trios into social themes. In both cases scenes are reproduced in oblique planes with two faced groups of motifs concurring to a central point. Addition: They are generally depicted in the central and more concave part of the rock shelter, even if previous motifs exist. They are usually added to previously socialized sites and are clearly intended to overlap previous motifs, as if there was a desire to annul them. However, they always act as exclusive motifs, since they never reuse previous images to complete their scenes. The scenes are usually extensive and quite visible.

3. Mas d’en Josep Type (Figure 5.2c) Form: Naturalistic and relatively proportioned representations, whose torsos tend to be stylized and elongated. The extremities of these figures are briefly modelled and show a specific kind of baggy pants named jarreteras. They show ornaments similar to those of the Centelles type, except for the bracelets, which are exclusive to the former. They carry small bags useful for their hunting activities. No sexual representation is evident, and since they appear only in hunting

From the Form to the Artists


scenes they are usually considered to be men. The average size varies between 8 and 16 cm. Technique: Monochrome red solid infill. Themes: Social themes disappear to focus on individual or collective hunting activities, which reproduce very realistic and different hunting tactics (pursue, stalk, trail, and so on). There is an increase in the numbers of hunted species, although specializing in adult male deer, wild boars, and wild goats (alone or in herd). For the first time, print or blood tracks connect the hunter to the prey, testifying to the importance of the identification and pursuit of tracks in past and present hunting activities (Figure 5.4). Composition: Structural changes on the rock surface act as limits to the scenes, instead of using the whole cavity or rock shelter. As a consequence, scenes are more concise than in previous phases. Horizontal and oblique planes alternate depending on the hunting tactic being represented. Motifs are grouped together by narrow juxtaposition, avoiding superimpositions in order to clearly expose the narration. Addition: Even if they nearly always choose previously socialized sites, they usually act as exclusive motifs or at least only previous animal figures are reused to create new hunting scenes.

4. Tolls Type (Figure 5.2d) Form: This type has been created with some doubt. It is quite similar to the Centelles types but smaller and lacking anatomical modelling on the legs, which are represented in the ‘flying running’ posture (with the legs open 180º), this is not common in the Centelles type. However, if we focus on the themes, they are more similar to the Mas d’en Josep type, since they both appear in hunting scenes, not documented in the Centelles type. So, taking this into account, this type could just constitute a functional variant of the Centelles type, with formal differences related with their appearance in different sort of themes, or an artistic variant of the Mas d’en Josep type, focused on the same themes but with some formal differences. Sexual differences are explicit. The average size varies between 5 and 12 cm. Technique: Monochrome red solid infill. Themes: They specialize in individual and collective hunts of deer and goat, hunting a variable number of preys, which are not sexually differentiated. Composition: Oblique planes of representation are chosen to emphasise the sensation of speed. Scenes are usually intensive and limited by the structural changes of the wall surface.


Chapter 5

MAS D’EN JOSEP TYPE Hunting deer Hunting goat



Different hunting tactics and a variety of preys

Hunting wild boar




New thematic diversification


War confrontation Hunting





Fancy dresses?

Figure 5.4 Themes represented in the Mas d’en Josep and Cingle type (tracing by Domingo et al. 2003 [a-b]; Beltrán 2002 [pc]; Domingo 2005 [d]; Martínez and Villaverde 2002 [e]; Ripoll 1963 [f]; Alonso and Grimal 2002 [g-i]).

Addition: Patterns of addition are variable. They appear either in new sites or on already painted panels, in which case previous motifs were reused to create a new scene or a completely new scene was made to fill in a blank space.

From the Form to the Artists


5. Cingle Type (Figure 5.2e) Form: This includes humans with broad and elongated torsos contrasting to their linear legs. Heads and torsos show certain variability. The former often include facial details, while torsos width varies from linear to wider including, in some cases, a prominent abdomen. They are out of normal proportion in that individuals have short legs. Male sexual organs are evident, but not female. Bags and the traditional bows and arrows present in all the phases appear. The average size varies between 8 and 12 cm. Technique: Combines the monochrome solid infill in head and trunk with the linear extremities, hardly ever articulating the legs. Themes: A new thematic diversification combines both hunting and social activities, including warlike scenes and individuals or couples with singular headdresses, may be related to ceremonial activities. Deer, wild goat, and wild boar are once more the main hunted species. An isolated climber in Cingle de la Mola Remigia site represents the birth of this theme in the Valltorta-Gasulla Levantine sequence (Figure 5.4). Composition: Variable composition patterns depending on their patterns of addition. Addition: They occur both at previous socialized sites and at new sites, acting either as complementary or as exclusive, motifs. When added to previously painted sites they respect only the motifs they want to include in the new scenes but are superimposed over those motifs deemed not to be relevant.

6. Linear Type (Figure 5.2f) Form: The line draws the basic body structure and variations appear according to the thickness and length of the brush stroke or to the way the diverse anatomical parts are articulated. Male sex is sometimes evident but no females have been identified. Small sizes (from 5 to 12 cm) predominate. The large number of internal variations is evidence of the longevity of this way of painting. There is great variation within this type and in the future it will be essential to create new human types. Technique: They use monochrome linear brush stroke, with variations in the anatomical modelling. Themes: This is the richer artistic episode. Together with traditional hunting activities, focusing on deer, wild goat, wild boar, and bulls, execution by groups of people appear, in which a squad of archers is located next to a speared individual. The climbers are more numerous and take part in different contexts: either hunting scenes or collecting honey. The importance of the warlike scenes may reveal an increase of social conflicts (Figure 5.5).

Warlike scenes d

Thematic richness

Individuals wounded with arrow by a squad

e Hunting

Climbers and insects


Climbers in hunting scenes

Figure 5.5 Themes represented in the Linear type (tracing by Porcar 1945; Domingo et al. 2003 [c]; Porcar 1935 [d]; Domingo et al. In press [e]; Viñas 1980 [f]).





From the Form to the Artists


Composition: Horizontal, oblique, and radial planes are combined depending on the author’s decisions. When creating a new scene by reusing a previous depicted animal the artists do not take into account the concordance of sizes. Humans are usually depicted too small in relation to their prey. Addition: They usually act as complementary motifs, except for the scenes showing new themes and some hunting scenes in which they act as exclusive motifs. They usually use previously socialized sites but sometimes create new social spaces.

Evolution of the Chronological Sequence At this point, I propose a new evolutionary sequence, based on the patterns of superimposition (Figure 5.6). While some variations among motifs result from chronological changes, others seem to be due to synchronic and/or functional changes. Some clear superimpositions provide a key to reconstructing a sequence that includes three of the identified human types (Centelles, Cingle, and Linear types). However, the lack of superimposition among the other three types (Civil, Mas d’en Josep, and Tolls), even when sharing the same rock art shelters, leaves open the question of their place in this sequence, although all three were depicted between the Centelles and the Cingle types. Human figures appear for the first time, as described in the Centelles type. Prior to this, some naturalistic animals were depicted but not related to humans. The subsequent horizons could be the Civil, the Mas d’en Josep, or the Tolls types. All of them overlap or add to the Centelles type, and the Cingle and Linear types overlap or add to them. Although the formal similarities between the Centelles and the Mas d’en Josep type might suggest that the latter immediately followed the former, similarities in the themes and the patterns of composition between the Centelles and Civil types suggest that the Centelles horizon was actually followed by the Civil. Both of these styles appear in scenes where a large number of archers monopolize the entire panel. They also share the use of bichromes in specific scenes to design body paintings or clothes, a technical device located only in a couple of the Valltorta valley sites. In the Cova dels Cavalls site, a motif classified as Tolls type breaks the hunting scene reproduced by Civil type motifs. However, although it seems an addition, it could also be a reuse of a previous motif by the author of the hunting scene. Therefore, only new superimpositions from new sites will provide an answer to this question.

Figure 5.6


CIVIL TYPE C. Civil C. Cavalls

C. Cavalls



A. Centelles


MAS d’en JOSEP TYPE C. Cavalls A. Centelles C. Saltadora

LINEAR TYPE C. Mas d’en Josep C. Saltadora


(Centelles, Civil, Cavalls, Saltadora y C.M. Remigia)


CINGLE TYPE C.M. Remigia C. Cavalls


Sequence of Levantine human motifs based on superimpositions and patterns of addition.

C. Cavalls




From the Form to the Artists


Toward an Evolution of Levantine Graphic Conventions From the proposed chronological sequence we can analyse evolution of the graphic conventions and their role in the characterization of each human type. As we have already mentioned, each type is defined by a number of variables. Similarly, a key variable used to distinguish between two types could prove inadequate for differing between two other types. As an example, although the presence/absence of adornments is key to distinguishing between the Centelles and the Civil types, it is not useful when making a distinction between the former from the Mas d’en Josep and the Tolls types.

Representation Techniques In general, Levantine rock artists depicted motifs in such a way that only the anatomical features visible in the silhouette were reproduced, but not the internal attributes. However, the techniques used to reach this common aim seem to vary along the sequence. A progressive loss of the body volume is a general trend, from the massive legs of the earliest period to the linear bodies of the last one. However, this evolution does not imply a systematic linking among diverse infill and diverse graphic horizons. The solid infill is common in the first four horizons, and in two of them (the Centelles and Civil types) it combines with the use of bichrome (white on red) and even with the parallel lines infill applied to clothing. Nevertheless, the combination of solid infill for head and trunk with lines for arms and legs seems exclusive to the Cingle type and the linear brush stroke of the Linear type. These variations come together with a progressive reduction in sizes (Figure 5.7). The use of bichrome was found in the Valltorta valley for the first time, reflecting a regional technical device. The differences in the way the white infill is applied in the two horizons reveal certain stylistic meaning. In the Centelles type the bichrome appears as parallel stripes, bands, and dotted lines, changing in relation with the identity of the figures (parallel lines for males, dotted lines for females, and parallel bands for ‘fantastic’ beings), whereas in the Civil type it outlines the silhouettes or appears as parallel lines infill. In both artistic episodes, the synchronic use of this technique with the solid infill seems to translate a functional convention intended to depict textiles or body paintings. This technique is restricted to specific kind of scenes, so it could be reserved to specific contexts, perhaps related to a certain ideological or ceremonial meaning, in which specific groups use specific designs, reflecting different social identities or roles, at least in the Centelles horizon.


Chapter 5

EVOLUTION OF SOME FORMAL FEATURES 50 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 Centelles






2 SHORT-LEGGED Average height in the lower third


Average height in the middle of the length


Real proportions 0.5

LONG-LEGGED Average height in the upper third

0 Centelles T. Civil T.

Tolls T. Cingle T.

Mas d’en Josep T. Linear T.

Size changes




Changes in anatomical proportions

Figure 5.7 Evolution of some formal features: size and anatomical proportions (trunk/legs ratio).

In short, while some technical aspects of the human figures show a stylistic value, others lack it, since they cannot be systematically linked to the way of doing of a specific artist, epoch, or region. Therefore, the analysis of other aspects (form, themes, or patterns of composition) is necessary in order to look further into the internal variability of Levantine art.

From the Form to the Artists


Anatomical Proportions The changes in anatomical proportions (trunk/legs ratio) have been key to isolating different human types by comparison with a theoretically ideal real proportions of humans. The selected canon is the eight heads canon, in which the ratio between trunk and legs is 3:8. However, this has limitations, since some human types show quite similar proportions, which results in three, rather than six, stylistic groups (Figure 5.7). To differentiate between the two types included in each group it is necessary to analyse other thematic, formal, composition, and technical devices. Centelles and Tolls Types. The average height of the body is located in their upper third, resulting in normally proportioned or even longlegged individuals. To differ between these two human types, we resorted to other criteria, such as size, anatomical modelling, and, especially, themes. Civil and Mas d’en Josep types tend to have elongated trunks, so the average height of their bodies is located in the middle of its length. Differences between both human types occur in the presence or absence of adornments and in the morphology of their heads. Whereas the Civil type lacks ornamentation and has ellipsoidal or globular heads, the Mas d’en Josep figures are richly decorated and tend to have pearlike head shapes. Cingle and Linear types exhibit legs that are extremely short when compared to the truck. The differences between both Cingle and Linear types are based in the representation technique that combines the solid infill with the linear brush stroke in the former and only the linear brush stroke in the latter. Nevertheless, we should remember that the Linear type includes more than one human type awaiting individual characterization. As a pattern in the artistic sequence, there is a progressive deformation of the body through an elongation of the trunk. This deformity begins in Civil horizon and achieves its maximum with the Cingle type, in which extremities are reduced to a third part or even less of the body length. These disproportions are subsequently maintained by Linear type figures, although they are less exaggerated.

Anatomical Modelling Patterns of anatomical modelling are also central to understanding the stylistic systematization of the Levantine human representations. However, once more, diverse human types share some anatomical features.


Chapter 5

Head modelling is key to individualizing some of the human types. The pearlike form modelling, representing a cut in medium-length hair, is characteristic of the Centelles and Mas d’en Josep types, but whereas the former reproduces frontal views of the head (symmetrical sides), the latter prefers lateral ones (dissymmetrical sides). Ellipsoidal heads are exclusive to the Civil type, although combined with globular ones also shared by the Cingle and Linear types. The addition of facial details (nose, mouth, and/or bears), as reproducing real portraits, is exclusive to the Cingle motifs. The design of the neck does not contribute any information to the stylistic chronology developed here. The addition of this anatomical feature seems to be random and only in the Centelles and Mas d’en Josep types is it systematically hidden because of long hair. Triangular trunks are the most common, so this anatomical feature lacks stylistic information. The ventral prominence is exclusive to the Cingle type but is combined with other formats (barlike and linear). This also appears in the Centelles type in reproductions of pregnant women. The explicit reproduction of the sex is of certain importance for the stylistic systematization. The male sex is often represented in the Civil, Cingle, and Linear types, but this could mean that those human types are nude figures, whereas the other types are clothed ones. In the Civil type, the sex is often reproduced above the advanced leg instead of between the two legs, as shown by the Cingle and Linear types. The realistic and erect design of the penis in four Centelles type individuals is also notable. Whereas in the other horizons the sexual masculine attributes are reproduced in any kind of scene, in the Centelles case they appear in only one scene with important sexual connotations. The breasts of females are not very common but appear in some Centelles type figures. The depiction of skirts has also been considered an indicator of sexual differentiation and is always assigned to females. While explicit representations of males appear along the whole sequence, females, as defined by this criterion, are evident only in the Centelles and Civil types (always talking about the Valltorta-Gasulla rock paintings). The anatomical modelling of legs also provides stylistic information. Massive and long legs are characteristic of the Centelles and Tolls types, though there are some minor differences between them. The former includes some muscular modelling, whereas the latter lacks it. Naturalistic legs, including the muscular modelling of buttocks, thigh, and calf is distinctive of the Civil and Mas d’en Josep types, although the latter includes baggy pants or leg adornments. Finally, linear legs are exclusive to the Cingle and Linear types, whose main differences lie in the trunk and/or head shape.

From the Form to the Artists


A progressive reduction of anatomical modelling seems to be the general evolutionary trend of Levantine rock art figures. The exaggerated initial modelling (Centelles type) becomes naturalistic in the middle of the sequence (Civil and Mas d’en Josep type) and disappears at the end (Linear type).

Attire and Adornments The rich ornaments of the Centelles, Mas d’en Josep, and Tolls types diverge from the austerity of the Linear and Civil types. And although the features of individuals seem to be important in the former, in the latter the actions as a whole appear to be more important than the depictions of individuals. The Centelles type is the most spectacular, since these figures are adorned with a large variety of ornaments and clothes. Some of the adornments are later copied by the Mas d’en Josep type (antenna and feather headdresses, belts with holding strips, and knee adornments), while bracelets and larger bundles (unnecessary for hunting activities) are exclusive to the Centelles type. Small bags hanging from the shoulders substituted the initial larger ones in the Mas d’en Josep, Cingle, and Linear types. These are especially common in the hunting scenes. Individuals are also important in the Cingle type, in which facial traits come together with some triangular loincloths and several headdresses that are exclusive to this period. In short, while some ornaments are exclusive to a human type, or even a specific group (since head adornments are not used by women but only men in the Centelles horizon), others are shared by different human types, reflecting a certain continuity despite differences in the patterns of composition and themes represented. However, there is not a linear evolution in the use of adornments but discontinuities that could also be visible in other components of the material culture and might reflect important sociocultural changes in the societies hidden behind rock art.

Weapons Bows and arrows are the main equipment of the Levantine human figures, and they are present in all the artistic episodes. When focusing on the regional context, one notices few variations in the forms of the arrows, providing scarce data for a stylistic systematization of the human figure. However, the way bows and arrows are displayed is stylistic in some cases, since they seem to be related to a specific human type. The Centelles type never displays shooting positions, although


Chapter 5

bows and arrows are an important part of the equipment. The quivers are exclusive to the Civil type, and this human type also has a specific way of transporting the fasces of arrows, crossed in the back. When one goes beyond this regional context, some variations seem related to the territorial behaviour of human groups. Whereas in the northern areas the arrows include simple apex and oval back reproducing the feathers, in the southern areas the arrows consist of a lateral appendix on the head and a crosslike form on the back reproducing the feathers. It is likely that these two ways of reproducing arrows reflect two different identities.

Themes and Patterns of Composition The way themes change when analysed in relation to each human type is one of the more interesting and novel findings of this study (Table 5.1). Against the widely accepted idea that Levantine rock art mainly focuses on hunting activities, this study suggests that the first Levantine human type (the Centelles type) is related neither to this activity nor to animal figures. These early figures take part only in what we have named ‘social activities’ (activities in which only humans are included) (see previous description of types). Those large groups of individuals using extensive rock surfaces to display their activities continue with the Civil type. But together with some ‘social scenes’, hunting activities are depicted for the first time, focusing on the capture of deer. The Centelles and Civil artistic episodes show certain continuity in the patterns of composition as well. Morphological changes in the rock surfaces do not limit the extensive display of scenes. However, whereas the former selects the upper part of the panels and uses the morphology of the rock to recreate aspects of the landscape, the latter usually prefers the central sections, and scenes do not play with the morphology of the rock. Despite continuity in certain patterns, others show some sort of break, such as the formal and ornamental changes between the two horizons, or the superimposition of the latter over the former in the Coves del Civil site. This overlap suggests an appropriation of the rock canvas more than an attempt to complement the previous scene. Therefore, being aware of the existence of previous motifs, the new visitors to the site introduced changes to the way of modelling humans as a means to create their own identities and differentiate them from previous authors. With the Mas d’en Josep type, some innovations take place. The ‘social themes’ disappear, and the scenes focus on the hunting world. Different hunting tactics and a diversification of the hunted species

ECONOMIC Hunting scenes Deer

Wild goat

Wild boar Bull Quarter of an animal Climbing individuals Isolated Hunting

– – –

Exc. – –

– – – – –

– – –

– –


– –

Exc. – –

Comp. of animal

Exc.; Comp. of b

– – –


Mas d’en Josep (c)

Exc. Exc. Exc.

Civil (b)

SOCIAL Groups of people Pair/trio Groups Maternity/Fertility Arrow wounded individuals Isolated With squad Warlike scenes

Centelles (a)

– –

– – –


Exc.; Comp. of b

– – –

Tolls (d)

Human Types

Exc. –

Comp. of a; Comp. of animal; Exc. Comp. of a; Exc. – –

Comp. of b.

– Exc. Exc.

– Exc. –

Cingle (e)

Evolution of the subject matter in Levantine rock art according to the different human types

THEMES Gasulla-Valltorta

Table 5.1

Exc. Exc.; Comp. of c

Exc.; Comp. of c Comp. Exc.

Exc.; Comp. of c; Comp. of animal Comp. of b Comp. of e

– Exc. Exc

Linear (f)


Chapter 5

occurs: chasing deer, wild goat, and wild boar. The last species, with a restricted geographical distribution (see Domingo et al. 2003), was generally considered characteristic of the final episodes, so the link to this human type involves an important change in the artistic sequence of Levantine rock art. Together with these thematic changes, there is a reduction in the size of the scenes, with structural changes in the rock surfaces acting now to frame the rock canvas. The formal and thematic variations in relation to the two previous human types reflect the emergence of a new social change or a new identity. However, when Mas d’en Josep type motifs or scenes were added to walls that already held depictions, these motifs usually were placed on blank spaces on the surface, and superimpositions were avoided. In some cases the artists used previous depicted animals to reproduce new hunting activities, but they did not add to previous scenes in which other human types were the original protagonists. Therefore, even if certain changes were introduced to mark social differences in relation to those previous phases, there is certain respect for the preceding artists and artworks. There is evidence of continuity in the themes and patterns of composition and addition used in the Mas d’en Josep type and the Tolls type. This continuity, together with the scarce geographical distribution of the Tolls type, limited to the Valltorta valley, suggests that the Tolls type may be contained within the Mas d’en Josep artistic tradition, with little formal variation, owing to the stylistic differences of different authors. Hunting activities persist until the end of the artistic sequence, and the figures are always chasing the same species. Only at the end of the chronological sequence, with the Linear type, is a new species hunted, the bull. However, bulls and linear humans are not synchronically depicted, but the artists of the linear humans incorporate previous painted large bulls into scenes in which tiny humans are depicted in the act of shooting the bull. With the emergence of the Cingle type, ‘social themes’ reappear, including some innovations and using increasingly smaller surfaces to depict the scenes. Warlike scenes, with two opposing human groups, may reflect an increase in social conflicts. Isolated individuals with fancy dresses may be related to some social or ceremonial activities. Wounded individuals reappear, but an entire squad of archers are shooting arrows at a wounded person, whereas with the Centelles horizon the executed or wounded person was reproduced alone, without reference to the origin of the arrows. By depicting the origin of the arrows it seems that the ‘punishment’ is made more human or secular.

From the Form to the Artists


Climbing individuals also emerge now, although their number increases with the Linear type. They climb up different sorts of vegetal elements, sometimes to pick honey (since insects fly around them), sometimes related to hunting scenes. Beyond this territory, this topic is also depicted, although use of the solid infill technique to depict the humans (Cova de la Araña –Bicorp – and Abric de los Trepadores – El Mortero, Alacón) reveals regional differences in the timing of the initial depiction of this subject matter. To summarize, neither themes nor patterns of composition show a linear evolution; rather they show changes, breaks, and continuities. This evolution reveals that different people visited the same sites in different periods and left their marks of identity by introducing changes in the form of motifs, in the themes represented, and in the patterns of composition and addition. The irregularities of the rock, initially used to depict the landscape and never limiting the extensive scenes in the former episodes, act as a frame of the later scenes, which are progressively reduced in size. Earlier depictions are sometimes respected, sometimes intentionally blurred or reused, but the artists are always introducing formal changes to show the new identities that are emerging at the site. Themes are continuously changing, perhaps as a result of major changes in the functional use of these places. The absence of hunting scenes in the initial stylistic episode reveals an important change in our conception of Levantine rock art, always seen as focused on this topic. And when hunting is depicted, it starts from the specialized hunting of deer and later expands to include other species. In addition, the relative thematic homogeneity of the earlier horizons differs from the marked diversity of the last two horizons.

Conclusion The evolution of motifs and themes and their patterns of continuity and change in Levantine rock art clearly reflect the changing identities of the artists. When depicting humans over the same rocky canvas, the artists introduce changes according to their own personalities and context, and the meaning and message of the art. Six human stylistic variants have been documented from the regional analysis of six rock art sites. And each variant shows specific patterns of design and composition and diverse subject matters. However, these changes and fluctuations were not always drastic but show certain continuities suggesting a single one in cultural transition, rather than the replacement of one society with another. The need to go deeper into the relationship


Chapter 5

between Levantine art and context has to be grounded in a stylistic systematization of this rock art tradition, and this study constitutes the starting point. New rock art sites have to be analysed to test the patterns observed here and to look for new superimpositions to provide a chronological order for some of the individualized episodes. Animals take an important role in Levantine rock art, and they have to be analysed in relation to human figures. The different styles have to be studied in their physical context, to get information about uses of the landscape as well as the territoriality of human groups. Parallel archaeometric studies could provide information about the superimpositions as well as the homogeneity or diversity of the pigment (recipes) used in each episode and more. This analysis, combined with the results of a formal study, will be confirmed if two homogeneous motifs from the formal point of view are also homogeneous from a technological one. This is important since, as Gosselain (1992:90) states, although it is relatively easy to copy visual features, often used with social aims, it is more difficult to reproduce the technological features that offer an opportunity to explore the more stable aspects of social identities. This study of style in Levantine rock art calls for a reconsideration of the traditional characterisation of this art as a uniform artistic expression. This research demonstrates regular changes in the ways in which Levantine artists depicted the same motifs, as well as changes in thematic content and patterns of composition. Either consciously or unconsciously, Levantine artists left archaeologists sufficient evidence to distinguish their changing identities from an analysis of their rock art.

Acknowledgments This paper includes the main contributions of my PhD, publicly defended the 11th March 2005. Many people helped at various stages of thesis preparation. In particular, I’m grateful to my supervisors, Valentín Villaverde and Rafael Martínez, for accepting this responsibility. The constructive comments of Claire Smith, Meg Conkey, and Bernat Martí were key in some sections of my work. Esther López and Rosa García collaborated with the digital recording of rock art and in the field, together with Pere Guillem. Family, friends, and colleagues, especially my husband, Dídac Roman, encouraged me to finish this work, which was completed thanks to a ‘V Segles’ Predoctoral Fellowship of the University of Valencia (Spain) and an Excellence Postdoctoral fellowship from the Generalitat Valenciana. Claire Smith and Sally K. May kindly reviewed the English translation of this paper; thank you very much!

From the Form to the Artists


References Almagro, M. 1952. El covacho con pinturas rupestres de Cogul (Lérida). Lérida: Instituto de Estudios Ilerdenses (C.S.I.C). Alonso, A., and A. Grimal. 1996. El Arte rupestre prehistórico de la cuenca del Río Taibilla (Albacete y Murcia): Nuevos planteamientos para el estudio del Arte Levantino. Barcelona: Ana Alonso Tejada, 2 vols. ———. 2002a ‘Arte Levantino en Castellón’, Millars. Espai i Història, XXIV:111–52. Beltrán, A. 1968. Arte rupestre Levantino. Zaragoza: Seminario de Prehistoria y Protohistoria, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras. ———. (dir.) 2002b. Las pinturas rupestres del abrigo de Val del Charco del Agua Amarga de Alcañiz. Zaragoza: Prames. Bernabeu, J. 2000. ‘The social and simbolic context of neolithization’, El paisaje en el Neolítico Mediterráneo. Saguntum Extra, 5:209–33. Blasco, M. C. 1981. ‘Tipología de la figura humana en el arte rupestre levantino’, Altamira Symposium. Madrid: Ministerio de Cultura, 361–77. Boast, R. 1997. ‘A small company of actors: A critique of style’, Journal of Material Culture 2(2):173–98. Bourdieu, P. 1977. Outline of the Theory of Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Breuil, H. 1920. ‘Les peintures rupestres de la Peninsula Ibérique: Les roches peintes de Minateda (Albacete)’, L’Anthropologie XXX:1–50. Cabré, J. 1915. El Arte Rupestre en España. Madrid: Comisión de Investigaciones Paleontológicas y Prehistóricas. Carr, C., and J. E. Neitzel (eds.). 1995. Style, Society and Person: Archaeological and Ethnological Perspectives. London: Plenum Press. Clottes, J. 1997. ‘New laboratory techniques and their impact on Paleolithic cave Art’. In M. Conkey and O. Soffer (eds.), Beyond Art: Pleistocene Image and Symbol. Memoirs of the California Academy of Sciences 23:37–52. Conkey, M. 1989. ‘The use of diversity in stylistic analysis’. In R. D. Leonard and G. T. Jones (eds.), Quantifying Diversity in Archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 118–58. Conkey, M., and C. Hastorf (eds.). 1990. The Uses of Style in Archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Domingo, I. 2005. Técnica y ejecución de la figura humana en el Arte Rupestre Levantino. Hacia una definición actualizada del concepto de estilo: Validez y limitaciones. Valencia: Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universitat de València (CD format). Domingo, I., and E. López-Montalvo. 2002. ‘Metodología: El proceso de obtención de calcos o reproducciones’. In R. Martínez and V. Villaverde (coord.), La Cova dels Cavalls en el Barranc de la Valltorta. Monografías del Instituto de Arte Rupestre, 1. Tírig. Museu de la Valltorta, Generalitat Valenciana, 75–81. Domingo, I., E. López-Montalvo, V. Villaverde, P. M. Guillem, and R. Martínez. 2003. ‘Las pinturas rupestres del Cingle del Mas d’En Josep (Tírig, Castelló). Consideraciones sobre la territorialización del arte levantino a partir del análisis de las figuras de bóvidos y jabalíes’, Saguntum 35:9–50. Domingo, I., E. López-Montalvo, V. Villaverde, and R. Martínez. In press. Los abrigos VII, VII y IX de les Coves de la Saltadora (Coves de Vinromà, Castelló). Monografías del Instituto de Arte Rupestre. Tírig. Museu de la Valltorta, Generalitat Valenciana. Fortea, F. J. 2002. ‘Trente-neuf dates C14-SMA pour l’art pariétal paleolithique des Asturies’, Bulletin de la Société Préhistorique Ariège-Pyrénées, LVII, 7–28. Fortea, F. J., and E. Aura. 1987. ‘Una escena de vareo en la Sarga (Alcoi). Aportaciones a los problemas del arte levantino‘, Archivo de Prehistoria Levantina, XVII, 97–120. Galiana, M. F. 1992. ‘Consideraciones en torno al arte rupestre levantino del Bajo Ebro y del Bajo Aragón’. In P. Utrilla (coord.) Aragón / Litoral Mediterráneo. Intercambios Culturales durante la Prehistoria. Zaragoza, Institución Fernando el Católico, 447–53.


Chapter 5

Gosselain, O. P. 1992. ‘Technology and style: Potters and pottery among the Bafia of Cameroon’, Man 27:559–86. Hegmon, M. 1992. ‘Archaeological research on style’, Annual Review of Anthropology 21, 517–36. Hernández, M., P. Ferrer, and E. Catalá. 1988. Arte Rupestre en Alicante. Alacant. Fundación Banco Exterior. ———. 1998. Art Llevantí. Cocentaina: Centre d’Estudis Contestans. Hodder, I. 1990. ‘Style as historical quality’. In M. Conkey and C. Hastorf (eds.), The Uses of Style in Archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 44–51. Layton, R. 1991. The Anthropology of Art. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Leroi-Gourhan, A. 1964. Le gest et la parole I: Technique et Language. Paris: A. Michel. ———. 1983. Los primeros artistas de Europa. Madrid: Ediciones Encuentro. Lorblanchet, M., and P. G. Bahn. 1993. ‘Rock art studies: The post-stylistic era or, Where do we go from here?’ Oxbow Monograph 35. Martí, B. 2003. ‘El arte rupestre Levantino y la imagen del modo de vida cazador: Entre los narrativo y lo simbólico’. In T. Tortosa and J. A. Santos (eds.), Arqueología e Iconografía. Indagar en las imágenes. L’Erma di Bretschneider, Roma, 59–75. Martí, B., and M. Hernández. 1988. El neolític valencià. Art rupestre i cultura material. València, Seervei d’Investigacions Prehistòriques. Diputació de València. Martí, B., and J. Juan-Cabanilles. 2002. ‘La decoració de les ceràmiques neolítiques i la seua relació amb les pintures rupestres dels abrics de la Sarga’. In M. S. Hernández and J. M. Segura (coord.), La Sarga. Arte Rupestre y Territorio. Alcoi, Ajuntament, Caja de Ahorros del Mediterráneo, 147–70. Martínez, R., and V. Villaverde (coord.). 2002. La Cova dels Cavalls en el Barranc de la Valltorta, Monografías del Instituto de Arte Rupestre, 1. Valencia. Molina, L., O. García-Puchol, and Mª. R. García-Robles. 2003. ‘Apuntes al marco cronocultural del arte levantino: Neolítico vs neolitización’, Saguntum 3:51–67. Obermaier, H., and P. Wernert. 1919. Las pinturas rupestres del Barranco de la Valltorta. (Castellón), Memoria de la Comisión de Investigaciones Paleontológicas y Prehistóricas, 23. Madrid, Comisión de Investigaciones Paleontológicas y Prehistóricas. Pettitt, P., and P. Bahn. 2003. ‘Current problems in dating Palaeolithic cave art: Candamo and Chauvet’, Antiquity 77(295):134–41. Piñón, F. 1982. Las pinturas rupestres de Albarracín (Teruel), Monografías de Investigación y Museo de Altamira, 6. Santander, Ministerio de Cultura. Plog, S. 1983. ‘Analysis of style in artifacts’, Annual Review of Anthropology 12:125–42. Porcar, J. 1935. ‘Noves pintures rupestres en el terme de Ares’, B.S.C.C. XVI(1):30–32. Ripoll, E. 1960. ‘Para una cronología relativa de las pinturas rupestres del levante español’, Festschrift für Lothar Zotz. Bonn: Ludwig Röhrscheid Verlag, 457–65. ———. 1963. Pinturas rupestres de la Gasulla. Monografías de Arte Rupestre. Arte Rupestre Levantino, 2. Barcelona. Rosenfeld, A., and C. Smith. 1997. ‘The use of radiometric and stylistic approaches to rock art dating’, Antiquity 72(272):405–11. Sackett, J. R. 1977. ‘The meaning of style in archaeology: A general model’, American Antiquity 42(3):369–80. ———. 1986. ‘Isochrestism and style: A clarificaction’, Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 5:266–77. Sarriá, E. 1989. ‘Las pinturas rupestres de Cova Remigia (Ares del Maestre, Castellón)’, Lucentum VII–VIII:7–33. Schapiro, M. 1953. ‘Style’. In A. L. Kroeber (ed.), Anthropology Today: An Encyclopedic Inventory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 287–312. Smith, C. 1996. Situating Style: An ethnoarchaeological study of social and material context in an Australian Aboriginal artistic system. Unpublished PhD. University of New England.

From the Form to the Artists


Troncoso, A. 2002. ‘Estilo, arte rupestre y sociedad en la zona central de Chile’, Complutum 13:135–53. Utrilla, P. 2002. ‘Epipaleolíticos y Neolíticos en el Valle del Ebro’, El Paisaje en el Neolítico Mediterráneo, Saguntum Extra 5:179–208. Valladas, H., and J. Clottes, J. 2003. ‘Style, Chauvet and radiocarbon’, Antiquity 77(295):142–45. Villaverde, V., and R. Martínez. 2002. ‘Consideraciones finales’. In R. Martínez and V. Villaverde (coords.), La Cova dels Cavalls en el Barranc de la Valltorta. Monografías del Instituto de Arte Rupestre, 1. Valencia. Viñas, R. 1980. ‘Figuras inéditas en el barranco de la Valltorta (Castellón)’, Ampurias 41–42, 1–34. ———. 1982. La Valltorta. Arte rupestre del Levante español. Barcelona: Ed. Castell. Viñas, R., and E. Sarriá. 1981. ‘Noticia de un nuevo conjunto de pinturas rupestres en Albocàsser’. Cuadernos de Prehistoria y Arqueologia Castellonense 8:301–05. Wiessner, P. 1988. ‘Style and changing relations between the individual and society’. In I. Hodder (ed.), The meaning of things: Material culture and Symbolic Expression. London: Allen & Unwin. ———. 1990. ‘Is there a unit of style?’ In M. Conkey and C. Hastorf (eds.), The Uses of Style in Archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 105–12. Wobst, M. 1999. ‘Style in archaeology or archaeologists in style’. In E. S. Chilton (ed.), Material Meaning: Critical Approaches to the Interpretation of Material Culture. Foundations of Archaeological Inquiri, 118–32.

CHAPTER 6 Memoried Sacredness and International Elite Identities: The Late Postclassic at La Casa de las Golondrinas, Guatemala Eugenia J. Robinson

La Casa de las Golondrinas, so named by the Guatemalan archaeologist Ericastilla Godoy for the swallows that swoop in an out of the crevices of the painted rock cliff, is the subject of this chapter. Called ‘El Salto’ by its owner, the site, with over 225 paintings, is the single largest painted rock art site registered in the highlands of Guatemala (Batres et al. 1998, 1999; Stone and Ericastilla 1998). It is located near the southern boundary of the Kaqchikel Maya speaking zone in the Antigua Valley, near Ciudad Vieja. In colonial times, this town was a suburb of the capital of the Kingdom of Guatemala at San Miguel Escobar, established by the conquistador Pedro de Alvarado in 1527 (Lutz 1984:39; Recinos 1950:20). The Kaqchikel name for Ciudad Vieja was B’ulb’uxya’ (Recinos 1950:20), or chorro de agua (Lutz 1984:49) or ‘spring’ (Geoffrey Braswell, personal communication 2006). Today, the Guacalate River flows near the site and Ciudad Vieja, and it is possible that B’ulb’uxya’ refers to that river, but more likely it is a reference to the three springs that flow into it on the outskirts of Golondrinas and near Ciudad Vieja (Figure 6.1). The site was a native shrine in Late Postclassic times (ca. 1200–1520 C.E.) and into the Colonial period. The evidence for this is Late Postclassic painted glyphs and burned plants from the excavated strata with radiocarbon dates (see Table 6.1) and characteristic ceramics and lithics. Lutz (1984:39) claims that during the 1524–1530 rebellion the area was abandoned by the Kaqchikel. It may be that religious activities ceased at the rock shelter during this short, disruptive time, but archaeological evidence shows that there were activities at Golondrinas in the early Colonial period. The evidence includes a radiocarbon date of a cached gourd that spans (uncal) 1525–1605 C.E.; pottery types that are known to continue from Postclassic to Colonial times (Sharer, Ashmore, and Hill 1970); and at least one painting that is stylistically Colonial in date. 131


Chapter 6 Chiruwisaq San Martin Jilotepeque

Tecpan Iximche

Chajoma Kaqchikel Xenacoj

Iximche Kaqchikel Sumpango Chitaqtz’aq

Vejucales Antigua Las Verapaces La Casa de las Golondrinas

Cerro Encantado Ciudad Vieja San Miguel Escobar Vista Alegre B’ulb’uxya’ Volcan de Acatenango Alotenango Casa Roja Volcan de Fuego Volcan de Agua

Iximche Kaqchikel

N 0

5 km



Archaeological Site


Figure 6.1 The sites and towns in the southern Kaqchikel area.

This chapter explores the relationship of rock art and social identity of the Late Postclassic Kaqchikel elite. At Golondrinas, religious artists painted at Golondrinas elements of an elite Postclassic international symbol set including the Plumed Serpent, Xiuhcoatl (Fire Serpent), and Flint to legitimatize the state society and warfare, and through these symbols made reference to sacred mountains, mythological weapons, and human sacrifice (McCafferty 2001; Miller and Taube 1993; Schele and Kappelman 2003; Smith 2003; Stone 1989; Taube 2000). In addition

Subop 6.1

Subop 6.1

Subop 2

Mix of Early Classic/Middle Pre-classic

Mix of Early Classic/Middle Pre-classic

Late Postclassic

Late Postclassic/Early Colonial

Subop 2

Gourd in jar cache Approx. Level 8 Approx. 0.05–0.15 m below the cache vessel Level 12 Near hearth 2.7 m deep Level 27 Hearth 2.8 m deep Level 28

Associated Ceramics




CAMS 108431

Laboratory No.

Radiocarbon dates of La Casa de las Golondrinas

Provenience Context

Table 6.1

930–1050 c.e.

180–60 B.C.E.

740 ± 50

960 ± 60

2070 ± 60

170–10 B.C.E.

1010–1160 c.e.

1525–1605 c.e. 1460–1530 c.e. (33.3%) 1560–1640 c.e. (35%) 1160–1260 c.e. 1260–1290 c.e.

385 ± 40

Calibrated 1 Sigma

Rc age B.C.E./C.E.

Rc age B.P.

340–320 B.C.E. and 210–60 B.C.E.

980–1210 c.e.

1210–1300 c.e.

1440–1640 c.e. (95.4)

Calibrated 2 Sigmas


Chapter 6

to these elite symbols, the sun and the moon, other elements of the Late Postclassic symbol system, are represented with non-elite pictographs and caches. The combination of the elite iconography, known best from the codices of the central highlands of Mexico (Boone and Smith 2003) and the non-elite painted symbols of the sun and the moon show that the Late Postclassic identity, with allegiances to Central Mexican cultures, had a hybrid expression at Golondrinas.

Landscape Approaches and Social Identity Ashmore (2004) reviewed the different concepts that the term ‘Landscape’ has encompassed in intellectual studies. She points out that a shift occurred in the mid 1950s from seeing the landscape as an untainted, natural place to the ecological and settlement studies in American archaeology that viewed the landscape as containing useful resources such as land, water, and lithics, all manipulable by humans. In these studies ‘the land remained a neutral and passive object, occupied and used by people but otherwise relatively detached from them’ (ibid.:99). As social archaeology and new landscape studies emerged, an approach crystallized that views landscapes as a social construct. Anschuetz, Wilshusen, and Scheick (2001:176) propose two approaches, one the ritual landscape and the other the ethnic landscape, the subject of the next section.

Ethnic Landscape Ethnic landscapes are the ‘spatial and temporal constructs defined by communities whose members create and manipulate material culture and symbols to signify ethnic or cultural boundaries based on customs and shared modes of thought and expression that might have no other sanction than tradition’ (ibid. 2001:179). In the Postclassic Golondrinas case, ethnohistorical data reveal information about the distribution of specific Mayan groups before and after the Spanish conquest. These and linguistic studies for the Kaqchikel Maya are an aid in reconstructing their spatial distribution, conflicts, and language. Background to the Kaqchikel People. Prehistoric people have been living in the Antigua area for the last 6,000 years, and the population size has waned and waxed throughout this period. Paleoenvironmental cores from Lake Quilizimate in the Antigua zone revealed domestic corn pollen starting at 4380 B.C.E. (Dorothy Freidel, personal communication 2006), but material cultural evidence for these early people is still lacking. Archaeological survey by the Proyecto Arqueológico del Area

Memoried Sacredness and International Elite Identities


Kaqchikel (PAAK) and the Encuesta Arqueológica Kaqchikel (EAK) has documented evidence of mobile Early Preclassic people from 1350– 1000 B.C.E. Sedentism started in 1000 B.C.E.; these Middle Preclassic people had ties to the Pacific coast and the highlands (Robinson et al. 2002). By about 700 B.C.E. they flourished in population size (ibid.; Braswell and Robinson submitted for publication), which continued for four centuries; but during the following Late Preclassic period, populations declined by about 300 B.C.E. They started to rebounded again in the Classic period (300–900 C.E.) and reached their peak in the second half of the time period. Another cycle of population decline followed in the Terminal and Early Postclassic (900–1200 C.E.), and growth occurred again in the Late Postclassic period. Reconstruction of the languages spoken in the area are dependent on ethnohistorical documents and glottochronological analysis – they both indicate that there were three different languages spoken in the area through time. Kaufman (1969) and Campbell (1999) both place Kaqchikel as a Postclassic development. Kaufman further posits that K’iche’an could have been the Preclassic and Classic language in the area; he calculates with glottochronology that it evolved as early as 700 B.C.E.; before that, residents were ‘Eastern Maya’ speakers. Campbell’s (ibid.) family tree of Mayan subgroupings does not place dates on the language change but does follow the same evolutionary scenario, placing Kaqchikel late, K’iche’an as an early development out of the closely related and seminal Proto-Eastern Mayan, a branch of Proto-Mayan. The Postclassic Period. Ethnohistoric sources record that the Late Postclassic period was characterized by regional migration, the establishment of small confederated ethnic groups, and fighting for resources and trade networks (Hill 1996). Hill colorfully describes the situation: ‘The different ethnolinquistic groups . . . were all at odds with one another and were themselves divided into smaller polities, engaged in an incessant, Machiavellian web of negotiations, alliance, betrayal, and war’ (Hill 1992:15). Just before the Spanish conquest, three Kaqchikel confederations, or amaq, controlled the capital of Iximche – the Sotz’il, founded the capital of Iximche between 1463 and 1470 and jointly ruled it with the Xajil after the Tuquche revolted over a land dispute and were pushed out of the Iximche center. Some of these people went west into Quiche territory, and others moved to the eastern Chajoma lands, dominated by their capital site, popularly named Mixco Viejo. The Chajoma were fiercely independent of incorporation into the Kaqchikel confederation and battled on their southern border with the Iximche Kaqchikel, who were stationed south of them in Alotenango, after they had taken coastal Pipil lands in Escuintla (Nance, Whittington, and Borg


Chapter 6

2003:29). Hill surmises that the Antigua Valley must have pertained to the Iximche polity or Tuquche exiles (Hill, personal communication 2006). Although Borg and associates (ibid.:30) claim that the inhabitants of the Antigua Valley were Sacatepéquez Chajoma, Hill is certain that the Chajoma were never located that far south; instead their southernmost boundary was the town of Xenacoj (Hill 1996). Between the years 1517 and 1524, the Kaqchikel of Iximche gained military control of most of what is today the Kaqchikel speaking zone (ibid.:32) – 3,500 sq km defined by Lake Atitlan to the west, the Motagua River to the north, Cerro Alux to the east, and the coastal piedmont to the south. La Casa de las Golondrinas was situated in this politically unstable periphery, far from the capitals of Iximche and Mixco Viejo. Archaeological survey by the PAAK and EAK of the entrances and exits of the Antigua Valley and the municipios of Sumpango to the north and Alotenango to the south show that, during the Protohistoric period shortly before the conquest, this frontier zone had a three-tiered settlement system. The upper tiers were defensive sites. Chitaqtz’aq (Place of the Walls), the largest known site, a Type 1, was a regional center of a chinamit, a corporate landholding unit subordinate to the amaq, probably ruled by a noble of the Kaqchikel court (Robinson 1998). Located to the north of Golondrinas in Sumpango, it was a walled site well located for defense south of Chajoma border. The Antigua Valley and its environs had two other settlement types (Robinson 1997). The Type 2 sites, with a single structure as tall as 10 meters, were rare, and only five in number. All but one were located in remote areas on steep mountain slopes; the other had a defensive location surrounded by water on an island. The Type 3 sites, the remains of family residences, were the most numerous. Postclassic life in the Guatemala Highlands and elsewhere in the Maya area was characterized by the ‘Mexicanization’ of material culture. Cultural traits from the central highlands of Mexico – twin pyramids, I-shaped ballcourts, cremations, human sacrifice, Mixteca-Puebla-style mural paintings, and titles and names from the Nahua language – were characteristics of the Maya (Braswell 2001; Navarette 1996; Smith and Berdan 2003). Legendary migrations of Central Mexican Nahua people from their capital of Tollan into the area was long accepted as the explanation for the presence of foreign styles and cultural elements, but that interpretation has been questioned by researchers. Hill (1996) reviews the issue and states in his study of the Chajoma based on sixteenth-century documents, that although these people had ‘Mexican’ elements in their culture and claimed they came Tollan, he finds they migrated only a distance of about 30 km; these and other groups that claimed Toltec ancestry ‘constituted a common propaganda tactic to

Memoried Sacredness and International Elite Identities


legitimize a group’s rise to power’ (ibid.:65). Braswell (2001) concurs and argues that there is a temporal lack of fit with the prestigious migration legends claimed to have occurred at 1000 C.E. and the cultural aspects that occur in the Guatemalan Highlands at about 1200 C.E. Braswell claims that a process of Mexicanization or ethnogenesis began about 1450 C.E. and became more prominent both before and after the conquest (ibid.:51). The Golondrinas example shows that this ritual site in a rural setting was included in this international communication network. The use of the symbols established a foreign social, military, and religious identity for practitioners who lived in a landscape of conflict.

Ritual Landscapes Ritual landscapes can be defined as ‘the products of stereotyped actions, including specific acts and sequences of acts . . . that represent the socially prescribed orders by which communities define, legitimize, and sustain their occupation of their traditional homelands . . . traditional wisdom often is tied to places. Thus the landscape is full of history, legend, knowledge, and power that help structure activities and organize relationships’ (Anschuetz, Wilshusen, and Scheick 2001:178). Single sacred locations can even be respected by more than one ethnic group. Sundstrom’s (1996) study in the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming is an illustration of a sacred rock art space adopted and used by different groups over time suggesting that there was commonality in belief between those groups. The Maya, like other Mesoamerican people, believed that features in the natural world had supernatural importance and were integrated into the cultural landscape. Mountains, caves, and springs particularly had symbolic meaning often associated with myths and religious beliefs (Adams and Brady 2005; Brady and Ashmore 1999; Grove 1999; Townsend 1982). Mesoamerican people saw their world as having three parts. In the lowest tier was a watery, underground base. The second tier was the earth, believed to be a crocodile’s back, floating in the water. Mountains, the third realm, contained sustaining and precious water within, and their steep slopes facilitated reaching the supernatural world above (Reese-Taylor and Koontz 2002). Caves were portals to the underworld, where fresh life-giving water emerged from the interior of the earth (Stone 1995). Springs and places from which water disgorged, like caves, also represent femaleness, creation, and fertility. In the Late Postclassic world, the mountain is connected to birth, and in the Aztec mythology, the coatepetl or ‘serpent hill’, is actually the mythic place of the birth of the Aztec nation. The basic story is


Chapter 6

that Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec god of war, while migrating with his people, was angered that his companions wanted to stay at ‘serpent hill’, a verdant mountain with reeds at its base and surrounded by water. In the codiacal representations, ‘serpent hill’ is marked with a serpent head and neck or a complete reptile (Schele and Kappelman 2003:Figures 2.3 and 2.5). Dressed for battle, Huitzilopochtli threw his fire-serpent weapon, or Xiuhcoatl, down the mountain to kill Four Hundred Southerners and then dismembered his half-sister Coyolxauhqui. Schele and Kappelman note that the happenings at serpent hill ‘engendered two primary directives: the first, a divine mandate for acts of war and sacrifice; the second, a paradigm for the construction of sacred space that included Snake Mountain, a ballcourt at its base, and a place of sacrifice’ (ibid.:34). Mountains had other ideological importance – they served as protective features. At Cholula in the Puebla/Tlaxcala Valley, Mexico, the Great Pyramid, a human-made mountain built over a spring, could act to protect the inhabitants – ‘the Cholutecans believed that if anyone attacked the holy city, the pyramid would burst open, and flood waters would wash away the attackers’ (McCafferty 2001:307). At La Casa de las Golondrinas, similar natural features are found conjoined in one place, making the area highly charged with spiritual meaning. Three volcanoes dominate the landscape: the dormant Agua (Water), the active Fuego (Fire), and inactive Acatenango (Place of the Reed). According to Maxwell and Hill (2006), the name of Fuego was Chi Q’aq’; Agua was renamed by the Spanish but was formerly Junahpu’, which means ‘canal’ in Kaqchikel (Figure 6.1). The rock art site is located at the base of the tallest of these: the 1,500-meter-high Agua Volcano looms to the south over the site and is visible from 25 km away. Three springs flow directly out of the volcano base, providing a symbolic connection to the underworld. The Guacalate River rushes noisily past Golondrinas and is a constant reminder of the active water nearby. The site lies at the intersection of two other large bodies of water that must have made the area a magical, shimmering place. The 2-km-long Quilizimate Lake lies 0.5 km to the northwest of the site, and in the Antigua Valley proper about 5 km to the northeast was reportedly another lake. The location thus has the same features as Serpent Hill: reeds, water, and a green mountain. Golondrinas, with its watery and underworld associations, was a southern sacred place in the southern side of the Kaqchikel landscape. Maxwell and Hill (2006) relate that the site’s situational importance, between the Agua and Fuego volcanoes, was due to the legendary meeting of ancestors and a mountain guardian. The Xajil Chronicles record that the ancients Q’ag’awitz and Saktekaw met Saq’ik’oxol Zaki

Memoried Sacredness and International Elite Identities


Koxol, a fearsome guardian spirit and ‘Heart of the Hill’ of the Fuego Volcano. In this wild place Saq’ik’oxol, who was fearful of losing his life, was forced to give to them his clothing and armaments, some made of blood. The reference to ancestors reiterates the symbolism of the location as a place of the birth of the Kaqchikel people (Aguilar and Brady 2003). This location must have had a liminal nature where human ritual practicioners came to make contact with the supernatural.

Modifications of the Natural World The PAAK has recorded over 225 individual paintings over a distance of 500 m, the length of the site. Other faded traces of red on the walls show that there were once even more pictographs. In 2001, Dr. Gene Ware photographed the paintings in different wavelengths of light and made multispectral images of the accessible paintings known at the time (Robinson and Ware 2001; Stone and Künne 2003). These images provide data for enhanced photographs in different wavelengths of light. Because the paintings appear faded in paper photographs, the field team made scaled drawings of them. These drawings constitute the visual corpus available for this chapter; the analysis of the multispectral images is still in process. The direct dating of the paintings is nearing completion under the direction of Dr. Marvin Rowe. For explanatory purposes, the images can be sorted into different thematic groups, although their meaning remains elusive. The easiest motifs to identify are suns, animals, butterflies, handprints, dancing humans, costumed humans or gods, disembodied faces, solid rectangles, hunting scenes, and the quincunx, a crossed symbol representing the four world directions and the center. Today, indigenous people in Guatemala view the paintings as ‘works of the devil’ and appear to have no insight into their past purpose or meaning. In other areas of the Americas, and especially in North America, where native peoples continue using sacred sites, the rock images are spiritual and concern sacred themes (Whitley 2000, 2001). They may represent visions or the memories of shamanic trances and liminality expressed by animals that move between different spheres (Francis and Loendorf 2002).

The Suns On the east side of the site, rayed circles, probably suns, are a repeating theme (Figure 6.2). A 4-inch hole cut into a 10-feet-tall vertical rock could have marked, given its angle to the receiving wall, light of the rising sun in November. The high frequency of rayed circles (7 cases), and depictions of dancing figures with hands clasped, suggest that


Chapter 6

Figure 6.2

Suns motifs, eastern area of La Casa de las Golondrinas.

ritual activity celebrated the sun’s appearance. Mesoamerican people believed that the sun was reborn each morning after a long night of death underground (Miller and Taube 1993). These images could depict other celestial objects, but their occurrence on the east side of the site coupled with a sighting hole, facing east, is convincing of an interest in rising celestial phenomena and a reiterance of the theme of birth.

Memoried Sacredness Archaeological materials from Golondrinas show that the central section of the site was used for about 2,500 years. Below the Late Postclassic burned layers of grasses and plants was Early Classic (300–600 C.E.) pottery. These ceramics were largely bowls with some fragments of grinding stones and manuports. Together this information shows that food was being prepared and served in this location in a ceremonial context, as a deposit of lumps of lime near an obsidian spear or knife attests. Human bone, an infant’s left ulna and adult’s heel and ankle bones from these Classic levels, are rare finds but do suggest that other rituals such as burials or sacrifice took place (Jahnke 2002). Earlier

Memoried Sacredness and International Elite Identities


activities are documented by carbon from a hearth dating to the Late Preclassic (uncal) 180–60 B.C.E. and other pieces of Preclassic pottery characteristic of 1000 B.C.E.–C.E. Other lines of evidence from the rock art site and other nearby locations support the idea that La Casa de las Golondrinas was a ritual site starting in the Preclassic. Direct evidence for its early importance is a date placing paint fragments at (cal) 1450–1000 B.C.E. (Robinson et al. 2006). Other support comes from 20 km west of Golondrinas, where the PAAK has documented in the Patzicia area a water-bearing mountain, Montaña El Soco, and a cave (Robinson 2005). At this location, Middle Preclassic ‘dwarf’ sculptures are Middle Preclassic in date (ibid.). These were interred with Preclassic and Early Classic pottery. This deposit shows that mountains and caves were revered in the Preclassic but continued to be ritually important to ethnic groups, probably K’iche’ people, a millennium later.

Late Postclassic Symbol Set In the central area of the site there is a change in theme, and Late Postclassic elite Mexican iconography dominates (Figure 6.3). All the figures discussed here are members of the Late Postclassic symbol set described by Smith (2003) and expanded on by Boone and Smith (2003). The Late Postclassic symbols are a set of motifs found throughout Central Mexico. Smith (2003) explains that the distribution of these traits – the fire serpent, or Xiuhcoatl; the sun-related weapon carried by Huitzilopochtli; the flint; the sun and moon with their watery associations – constitutes this motif group.

Serpent Hill Polychrome Plumed Serpent. A polychrome plumed serpent (see Figure 6.3, painting B6) is perched on the rock wall. In the past, it was one of the most beautiful paintings at the site. Although quite dim now on a dark wall face, the 75-cm-long painting was executed in a red outline. It faces east and has a long nose, scroll eye, and a threefeathered plume atop its head. Traces of yellow and blue fill in the red outline in the jaw area. The plumed serpent marks this location, the physical base of the Agua Volcano, as a ‘serpent mountain’. It has all the features of a sacred mountain. It dominates the landscape and has water emerging from its base. This extinct volcano could have been dangerous, too; when there are heavy rains, the cone fills up with water and overflows its rim and creates a destructive mud slide. The motif formalizes the natural mountains, springs, and water sources

Figure 6.3 The Mexican paintings in area B of La Casa de las Golondrinas; B1 Xiuhcoatl and Flint glyph, B5 Xiuhcoatl as a shield, B6 Serpent.

Memoried Sacredness and International Elite Identities


long known to indigenous people and places them in a Late Postclassic pan-Mesoamerican belief system. The motif, as in the Aztec case, could have legitimatized the ‘birth’ of the Kaqchikel state and its people – an interpretation that is reinforced by the meeting of Kaqchikel ancestors between the Fuego and Agua Volcanoes. Xiuhcoatl Shield. To the left of the serpent is a large Xiuhcoatl, or ‘fire serpent’ (see Figure 6.3, painting B5) which, like the plumed serpent, is a very special painting. This image was seemingly created in a resist technique: The unpainted figure is defined by a circular field of red paint (Munsell 10R5/8) reminiscent of a shield. Also facing east, the painting is 81 cm tall; the head of this particular Xiuhcoatl is shown with the typical open jaw, and it has a clawed foot variant (Taube 2000). The ‘fire serpent’ was associated with two Aztec gods: It was the weapon of Huitzilopochtli, the war god of the Aztec (Miller and Taube 1993:188), and it was carried on the back of Xiuhtecuhtli, a young god of fire ‘identified with youthful warriors and rulership’ (ibid.:189). Flint and Xiuhcoatl Glyphs. To the left of these two images, about 12 meters above ground level and hanging above the site like a flag, are two more symbols of the International Symbol Set, a Xiuhcoatl and a Flint (see Figure 6.3, painting B1). Together these images are 74 cm tall. The flint´s image is a bichrome, created with a red line and a turquoise outline; this may be a reference to Xiuhcoatl’s color, turquoise, meaning fire. The Xiuhcoatl is shooting upward head first, and three sections of its segmented tail hang below. Its mouth is open, and in place of a tongue it has a flint tipped with dripping blood emerging from its mouth. Eight outlined circles or dots, each with a numerical value of one, arch away from the Flint, and twelve solid dots circle to the right of the bearer of the blade. A solid rectangle at the end of the twelve-dot series is reminiscent of seven squares organized as stacked pairs of Maya hieroglyphic blocks and may be motifs used for counting or calendrics. This painting, like the Xiuhcoatl shield, has many paint drips descending from the solid areas, suggesting that the same painter created the two with wet paint. The combination of the two motifs plus the numerals is not standard practice; two interpretations are possible. One is to view the combined motifs independent of their numerical accompaniments. Taube claims that the Xiuhcoatl was a meteor or ‘star worm’ or caterpillar that was capable of penetrating flesh (2000:287–92). This creature alone was a fearsome weapon; its combination with a blade tongue makes it even more frightening and, in this case, with blood dripping off it, an agent of human sacrifice, a war victim’s fate in Mesoamerica. This


Chapter 6

particular iconographic combination has Classic Maya precedents in the centipede that occurs with a blade tongue. This is a war image that Taube (2000) argues is a Xiuhcoatl predecessor. At Quirigua, the image of a centipede with blade tongue atop a shield and segmented panels occurs on Stela J and is also a war image (Stone 1989:159, Figure 8d). Another interpretation, inclusive of the numerics, would interpret this glyphic combination as a calendrical date. A standard way to make a calendrical date in Central Mexico is a day name and number – in this case, 8 Flint. Stone noted that ‘Flint is a year bearer in the Aztec calendar, and 8 Flint, if correct, could identify the year as 1448 or 1500’ (Caso 1971; Stone 1999:7). The more likely of the two, given the ethnohistory of the area, is the 1500 C.E. date. Another idea is that the 12 Xiuhcoatl could function as a nonstandard day sign with archaic references to a foreign calendar. Urcid commented that the tail of the Xiuhcoatl is an element in a day sign ‘Xicani’ in the Classic Zapotec calendar (Urcid 2001:204) and also exists in the Xochicalco calendar. Another possible interpretation is that the glyph combination is a hybrid of the Central Mexican and Mayan calendars; perhaps the 12 Xiuhcoatl is a numbered month name, as would be typical in a Maya calendar. Xiuhcoatl has calendrical references; it is associated with the vague year of 360 days (Miller and Taube 1993:189). Stone (1999) commented further on Late Postclassic glyphs depicted in stone. Aztec nobility placed dates on rocks for ‘historical commemoration linked to important sites in the landscape, especially those tied to their mytho-historical traditions’ (ibid.:4). For example, Moctezuma’s portrait in rock and painted dates were associated with his New Fire ceremonies, rituals performed at the inception of the 52-year period that guaranteed the sun’s renewal, and his coronation. Another example is a sacrificial rock east of Tenochtitlan with a date of 1 Flint that simultaneously marks the year of the migration of the Mexica and the later conquest of the Tepenecs in 1428 (ibid.:7). The Golondrinas ‘date’ has parallels with the Aztec practices of placing historical dates on rocks in the rural landscape. Exactly what the year of 1500 C.E. commemorates is difficult to say. It could commemorate a New Fire ceremony, coronation, sacrifice, migration, or conquest. With the combination of the Flint to the Xiuhcoatl, a celestial weapon of fire, these glyphs might record the conquest of the Iximche Kaqchikel of this sacred place, with its references to fertility, creation, and ancestors in the southern peripheral area of the evolving Kaqchikel nation.

Archaeological Evidence Burned grasses and plants and a cache of weaving tools in a ceramic vessel found in the dry soil beneath these paintings in the central section

Memoried Sacredness and International Elite Identities


of the site support the interpretation that ceremonies took place here. Burned and unburned layers of branches and grasses stretched across 13 meters of the site; they were found up to 1.6 meters below ground surface with deposits of single obsidian knives that reinforce the theme of the Flint glyph. The earliest radiocarbon date relating to these levels came from 1.2 meters below surface (Level 12) and yielded a date (uncal) of 1160–1260 C.E. (Beta #176439) (see Table 6.1). This date shows that rituals here started around 1200 C.E., about 250 years before the founding of Iximche and included caching obsidian knives. It is tempting, based on the charred organics, to speculate that New Fire ceremonies, rituals of renewal of the 52-year period, were carried out here. Comal fragments of shallow cooking vessels in every level in excavations in front of the plumed serpent and Xiuhcoatl shield indicate that food preparation went on at this spot. Fauna from below these paintings are mostly small burned pieces and are the fragmentary remains of small ceremonial offerings or meals but not feasts (Carr and Robinson 2004). The Moon: Jar and Weaving Cache. References to the moon and weaving exist in a local cache vessel. Directly below the Xiuhcoatl-Flint combination and among the layers of burned branches was a 45-cmtall jar for holding liquids of the Sanguayaba Unslipped (Figure 6.4): Sanguayaba Variety ceramic type (Sharer, Ashmore, and Hill 1970). Harriet Beaubien (2003) noticed that there was deterioration in the central part of the jar, making it likely that it was burned after it was set

Figure 6.4 Sanguayaba Unslipped: Sanguayaba Variety cache jar, seed spindle whorl, and two gourd bowls.


Chapter 6

into the ground. Inside the vessel there were eighteen spindle whorls, replicas made of palm seeds, seven fragmentary sticks – some were actually inserted into the spindle whorls – one large gourd bowl with cloth adhering to the bowl, and one smaller gourd bowl. The date of one of the gourds was (uncal) 1525–1605 C.E. (CAMS 108431) (see Table 6.1). There were also two bird bones with a green coloring, a symbol of life, rubbed into one end of each bone: One was a turkey leg bone and the other was the wing bone of a booby (Dave Steadman, personal communication). There was also an unused Ixtepeque obsidian blade. Outside and near the vessel were two lithics, an obsidian point and a blade in white lime. Charred human bones, a foot bone and femur, come from an adjacent excavation at the same level as the jar. The weaving implements are associated with women’s work of making textiles (McCafferty and McCafferty 1991). Perhaps this deposit was made for a deceased woman or a lunar goddess, such as those of the Madrid Codex, who are responsible for weaving, childbirth, and the moon, when it ‘weaves across the sky’ (Milbrath 1999). Some lunar goddesses are associated with the color white, of cotton, or of the moon (ibid.). In the last page of the Dresden Codex, the Moon Goddess is also a water giver: She pours liquid out of a cantaro that is smaller but of the same shape as that found in the excavation. The offering of this large jar at Golondrinas, along with the other artefacts and materials, encodes and interconnects femaleness and rain and reinforces our interpretation of the site as a sacred location devoted to creation. One of these ancient lunar deities is associated with the waning moon and is shown with crossed bones on her garments, suggesting that the two bird bones in the vessel could be symbols of the lunar demise at new moon.

Conclusion Why did elites choose this site to paint these religious and militaristic Mexican glyphs with images of sacrificial knives, fire serpents, and plumed serpents and make caches to lunar deities? The answer lies in the ethnic and ritual landscape. Golondrinas was a strategic site for the expansion of the Kaqchikel people in their effort to monopolize coastal land and passages to it. The fitting landscape features of reeds and a verdant mountain with emerging water evoked the story of Huitzilopochtli, and it was critical to the Kaqchikel militaristic elites bearing an international identity and ideology to appropriate this wild and peripheral location full of the creative powers of water, sun, and ancestors into their ritual landscape and mark it with motifs, the Xuicoatl and Flint, that communicated holy support for warfare. Through the application of these motifs, the location, with its inherent native symbolism, became

Memoried Sacredness and International Elite Identities


part of a broad political and religious interaction sphere in the Late Postclassic. In spite of disruptions in the landscape with the Spanish conquest, these identities seemed to have continued into the Colonial period, with ritual activity at a location of great mythological and legendary importance. The dual but opposite forces of fire and water commemorated by these Late Postclassic and Colonial peoples live on in the names of the Fire and Water volcanoes in the Antigua Valley today.

Acknowledgments I would like to thank the institutions and scholars who have supported the field investigations and interpretations presented in this work. The Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc., (grant 99052) and the National Geographic Society (grants #7032–01, 7218–02, and 7527–03) generously supported the recording of the rock art, the excavations, and the radiocarbon dating. The Institute of Anthropology and History of Guatemala enthusiastically authorized the fieldwork, and the landowners graciously allowed us to work on their property. My codirector, Lic. Marlen Garnica, a rock art enthusiast, made the multiple field investigations run smoothly. This paper has benefited by the insights of Andrea Stone, Karl Taube, Robert Hill, Geoffrey Braswell (especially for his translations and orthography of Maya names), Sorayya Carr, Lori Jahnke, Kitty Emery, Michelle LeFabre, Dave Steadman, Harriet Beaubien, Linda Brown, and Mary Gallagher.

References Adams, A., and J. Brady. 2005. ‘“Ethnographic notes on Maya Q’eqchi” cave rites: Implications for archaeological interpretation’. In J. Brady and K. Prufer (eds.), In the Maw of the Earth Monster. Austin: University of Texas Press. Aguilar, M., and J. Brady. 2003. ‘The historicity of the map of Cuauhtinchan #2 and a man-made Chicomoztoc complex at Acatzingo Viejo’. Paper presented in a session ‘Ways of Remembering History’, WAC-5, Washington, DC: 21–26 June. Anschuetz, K., R. Wilshusen, and C. Scheick. 2001. ‘An archaeology of landscapes: Perspectives and directions’, Journal of Archaeological Research 9(2):157–211. Ashmore, W. 2004. ‘Ancient Maya landscapes’. In C. Golden and G. Borgstede (eds.), Continuities and Change in Maya Archaeology. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 97–112. Batres, C., R. Martínez, N. Milián, L. Pérez, and L. Rosada. 1998. ‘Las pinturas rupestres del Peñasco Los Migueles, Municipio de San Juan Ermita, Chiquimula: Informe preliminar’. In J. Laporte and H. Escobedo (eds.), XI Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueologicas en Guatemala 1997. Guatemala: Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología, 499–512. Batres, L., C. Batres, R. Martínez, N. Milián, and L. Rosada. 1999. ‘Estudio de la pintura rupestre de Chiquimula: Peñascos Los Migueles, Alonzo y Cerón’. In J. Laporte, H. Escobedo, and Monzón de Suasnávar (eds.), XII Simposio de Investigaciones


Chapter 6

Arqueologicas en Guatemala 1998. Guatemala: Ministero de Cultura y Deportes, 791–807. Beaubien, H. 2003. ‘La Casa de las Golondrinas, Antigua Valley, Guatemala [SCmre 5824]: Conservation report on a special deposit of weaving implements’. Report submitted to the Proyecto Arqueologico del Area Kaqchikel. Boone, E., and M. Smith. 2003. ‘Postclassic international styles and symbol sets’. In M. Smith and F. Berdan (eds.), The Postclassic Mesoamerican World. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 186–93. Brady, J., and W. Ashmore. 1999. ‘Mountains, caves and water: Ideational landscapes of the ancient Maya’. In W. Ashmore and A. Knapp (eds.), Archaeologies of Landscape: Contemporary Perspectives. Oxford: Blackwell, 124–45. Braswell, G. 2001. ‘Ethnogenesis, social structure, and survival: The Nahuaization of K’iche’an culture, 1450–1550’. In U. Hostettler and M. Restall (eds.), Maya Survivalism. Markt Schwaben: Verlag Anton Saurwein, 51–58. Braswell, G., and E. Robinson. In press. ‘The Eastern Kaqchikel highlands during the Preclassic Period: Interaction, growth and depopulation’. In The Preclassic Southern Maya Area, M. Love and J. Kaplan (eds.). Campbell, L. 1999. Historical Linquistics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Carr, S., and E. Robinson. 2004. ‘Fauna and ritual at La Casa de las Golondrinas’. Paper presented in a General Mesoamerican Session, Society for American Archaeology, Montreal, April. Caso, A. 1971. ‘Calendrical systems of Central Mexico’, The Handbook of Middle American Indians 10, Austin: University of Texas Press, 333–48. Francis, J., and L. Loendorf. 2002. Ancient Vision: Petroglyphs and Pictographs from the Wind River and Bighorn County, Wyoming and Montana. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press. Freidel, D., J. Jones, and E. Robinson. 2001. ‘Paleoenvironment of the Urias preclassic site in the Antigua Valley, Guatemala’. Paper presented in the session ‘Paleoenvironments and Early Human Occupation in Southern Mesoamerica’, Society for American Archaeology, Meeting 2001. Grove, D. 1999. ‘Public monuments and sacred mountains: Observations on three Formative Period sacred landscapes’. In D. Grove and C. Joyce (eds.), Social Patterns in Pre-Classic Mesoamerica. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 255–95. Hill, R. 1992. Colonial Cakchiquels. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. ———. 1996. ‘Eastern Chajoma (Cakchiquel) political geography’, Ancient Mesoamerica 7, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 63–87. Jahnke, L. 2002. ‘Golondrinas (392067) huesos humanos’. Report submitted to the Proyecto Arqueologico del Area Kaqchikel. Kaufman, T. 1969. ‘Some recent hypotheses on Mayan diversification’, Language Behavior Research Laboratory, Working Paper 26. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California. Lutz, C. 1984. Historia Sociodemográfica de Santiago de Guatemala 1541–1773. South Woodstock, CIRMA, Guatemala. Maxwell, J., and R. Hill. 2006. Kaqchikel Chronicles. Austin: University of Texas Press. McCafferty, G. 2001. ‘Mountain of Heaven, Mountain of Earth: The Great Pyramid of Cholula as sacred geography’. In R. Koontz, K. Reese-Taylor, and A. Headrick (eds.), Landscape and Power in Ancient Mesoamerica. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 279–316. McCafferty, S., and G. McCafferty. 1991. ‘Spinning and weaving as female gender identity in post-classic Mexico’. In M. Schevill, J. Berlo, and E. Dwyer (eds.), Textile Traditions of Mesoamerica and the Andes: An Anthology. New York: Garland Publishing, 19–44. Milbrath, S. 1999. Star Gods of the Maya: Astronomy in Art, Folklore, and Calendars. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Memoried Sacredness and International Elite Identities


Miller, M., and K. Taube. 1993. The Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya. London: Thames and Hudson. Nance, R., S. Whittington, and B. Borg. 2003. Archaeology and Ethnohistory of Iximché, Gainesville: University of Florida. Navarette, C. 1996. ‘Elementos arqueológicos de Mexicanización en las Tierras Altas Mayas’. In S. Lombardo and E. Naldo (eds.), Coleccion Obra Diversa. Mexico: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historía. Recinos, A. 1950. Memorial de Solola. Anales de los Cakchiqueles. Guatemala: Direccion General de Antropologia e Historia, editorial Piedra Santa. Reese-Taylor, K., and R. A. Koontz (eds.). 2002. Landscape and Power in Ancient Mesoamerica. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Robinson, E. 1997. ‘Prehistoric to colonial settlement transition in the Antigua Valley, Guatemala’. In J. Gasco, G. Smith, and P. Fournier-Gracia (ed.), Approaches to the Historical Archaeology of Mexico, Central and South America. Los Angeles: The Institute of Archaeology University of California. ———. 1998. ‘Organización del Estado Kaqchikel: El centro regional de Chitak Tzak’. In C. Lutz (ed.), Mesoamérica. South Woodstock, CIRMA, Guatemala, 49–71. ———. 2005. ‘Esculturas, asentamiento y paisaje en Las Tierras Altas de Guatemala: Una propuesta de investigación’. In J. Laporte, B. Arroyo, and H. Mejia (eds.), XVIII Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueologicas en Guatemala 2004. Guatemala: Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes, 531–38. Robinson, E., and G. Ware. 2001. ‘Multispectral imaging of La Casa de las Golondrinas rock paintings’. Final report submitted to the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies. Robinson, E., P. Farrell, K. Emery, D. Freidel, and G. Braswell. 2002. ‘Preclassic settlements and geomorphology in the highlands of Guatemala: Excavations at Urías, Valley of Antigua’. In M. Love, M. Popenoe de Hatch, and H. Escobedo (eds.), Incidents of Archaeology in Central America and Yucatán. Lanham, MD: University Press of America. Robinson E., M. Garnica, R. Armitage, and M. Rowe. 2006. ‘Los fechamientos del arte rupestre y la arqueologia en la lasa de las Golondrinas, San Miguel Duenas, Sacatépequez’. Paper presented at the XX Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueologicas en Guatemala. Schele, L., and J. Kappelman. 2003. ‘What the heck’s Coatépec? The formative roots of an enduring mythology’. In R. Koontz, K. Reese-Taylor, and A. Headrick (eds.), Landscape and Power in Ancient Mesoamerica. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 279–316. Sharer, R., W. Ashmore, and R. Hill. 1970. ‘The pottery of Antigua, Guatemala’. Report of the Collections Recovered by the Hispanic American Research Project 1969–1970. Smith, M. 2003. ‘Information networks in Postclassic Mesoamerica’. In M. Smith and F. Berdan (eds.), The Postclassic Mesoamerican World. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 181–93. Smith, M., and F. Berdan. (eds.). 2003. The Postclassic Mesoamerican World. Salt Lake City: University of Utah. Stone, A. 1989. ‘Disconnection, foreign insignia, and political expansion: Teotihuacan and the warrior stelae of Piedras Negras’. In R. Diehl and J. Berlo (eds.), Mesoamerica after the Decline of Teotihuacan, 153–72. ———. 1995. Images of the Underworld. Austin, University of Texas Press. ———. 1999. ‘Postclassic rock art in historical context’. Paper presented at the International Rock Art Congress, Ripon, WI: May. Stone, A., and S. Ericastilla Godoy. 1998. ‘Registro de arte ruprestre en las Tierras Altas de Guatemala: Resultados del reconocimiento de 1997’. In J. Laporte, H. Escobedo, and A. Monzón de Suasnávar (eds.), XII Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueologicas en Guatemala, 1997. Guatemala: Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes, Instituto de Antropologia e Historia, Asociacion Tikal, 775–83.


Chapter 6

Stone, A., and M. Künne, M. 2003. ‘Rock art of Central America and Maya Mexico’. In P. Bahn and A. Fossati (eds.), News of the World 2. Oakville, CT: Oxbow Books, 196–213. Sundstrom, L. 1996. ‘Mirror of heaven: Cross-cultural transference of the sacred geography of the Black Hills’, World Archaeology 28(2):177–89. Taube, K. 2000. ‘The turquoise hearth’. In D. Carrasco and L. Jones (eds.), Mesoamerica’s Classic Heritage. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado, 269–340. Townsend, R. 1982. ‘Pyramid and Sacred Mountain’. In A. Aveni and G. Urtin (eds.), Ethnoastronomy and Archaeoastronomy in the American Tropics. New York: Academy of Sciences, 37–62. Urcid, J. 2001. Zapotec Hieroglyphic Writing, Dumbarton Research Library and Collection Studies in Precolumbian Art and Archaeology 34. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks. Whitley, D. (ed). 2000. Handbook of Rock Art Research. Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press. Whitley, D. 2001. The Art of the Shaman. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press.

CHAPTER 7 Same Tradition, Different Views: The Côa Valley Rock Art and Social Identity Luís Luís and Marcos García Díez

The Côa Valley rock art is an interesting case study in rock art and social identity theory (for example, Tajfel and Turner 1986). Importantly, it presents one of the longest artistic cycles in the world, from the Upper Palaeolithic to the 1950s. Different social groups marked the same landscape, sometimes using the same rock panels, with engraved rock art using similar techniques. In the Côa example, we are not dealing with indigenous societies, as in Australia or the Americas, where rock art is perceived as part of the living heritage of contemporary groups and claimed accordingly. Researchers can perceive a diachronic sequence in the artistic expression in this valley, but the local population does not perceive this similarly. In this chapter, we argue that the rock art in the Côa Valley implies a totally different perception of this art by two different social groups, both living and engraving in the same space. We use the Côa Valley as a frame of reference for the determination of social identity. Both individuals and social groups developed their lives in the landscape, with the structure of place-identity playing an important role in the configuration of the identity of the self (Proshansky et al. 1983; Stokols 1990). The objects (the engravings) are just one more social category in the landscape (Aragonés et al. 1992; Berger and Luckmann 1966). They are given an ontological dimension by individuals and groups, and in the process become social constructions (Blumer 1982). In this chapter, we examine two artistic cycles that are contrasted chronologically and that represent the beginning and the end of a graphic sequence (Palaeolithic [28,000 B.P.] and Contemporary Ages [fifteenth to twentieth century], respectively). The age difference (over 12,000 years) justifies the conclusion that two conceptual realities were produced by perceptions of the same landscape from different social, cultural, and economic perspectives. This chapter aims to understand questions such as: How was the natural landscape perceived? What was the graphic interaction 151


Chapter 7

with the landscape? How was social reality understood through symbolization of the landscape?

The Côa Valley Rock Art The Côa Valley is located in the north interior of Portugal, near the Spanish border, at the eastern limit of the Iberian Plateau (Figure 7.1). Geologically, it consists mostly of schist domains, inserted in the SchistGreywacke Complex. Schist outcrops form large vertical panels owing to the valley’s proximity to the Vilariça geological fault and local tectonics. Granite makes its appearance toward the south of the basin, where rock art is rare. The Côa Valley contains one of the most important artistic complexes in European rock art. First, it is one of the most significant early examples of human artistic expression: Upper Palaeolithic art. The oldest representations in the valley have been stylistically attributed to the Gravettian (28,000 to 21,000 B.P.) (Aubry and Baptista 2000; Aubry and García Díez 2001; Zilhão 2003). Second, until the discovery of the Côa Valley, researchers thought that Palaeolithic art was mainly restricted to caves, despite the discovery of Mazouco, Piedras Blancas, Siega Verde, and Domingo García. All over Western Europe hundreds of caves containing paintings and engravings dating from the Upper Palaeolithic were known from the end of the nineteenth century, although mostly in France and northern Spain (Altamira, Rouffignac, Lascaux, Castillo, and so on) (Lorblanchet 1995). Since it is located in the open air, Côa Valley rock art has changed scholars’ conception of Palaeolithic art as exclusively cave art, producing what has been characterised as a Copernican revolution (Zilhão et al. 1997). Different weathering conditions have certainly distorted the conservation of rock art images (and hence what has survived through today), and the Côa Valley is one of the only known preserved open-air Palaeolithic rock art sites. It certainly is the largest. Its dimensions also indicate its importance. It consists of a vast artistic complex, closely related to the Côa River and its surrounding landscape. Until now, 29 different rock art sites have been registered, located on both riverbanks and stretching along 17 km of the river, in its main tributaries and at its confluence with the Douro (Figure 7.2). These sites contain several hundred vertical and subvertical schist panels inscribed with rock art. Finally, the Côa Valley rock art is not limited to the early stages of human artistic expression. It began during the Upper Palaeolithic and Epipalaeolithic-Mesolithic (28,000 to 8,000 B.P.) but continued throughout Late Prehistory (5,500 to 3,000 B.C.E.), the Second Iron

Same Tradition, Different Views


Figure 7.1 Palaeolithic and modern rock art sites and the Upper Palaeolithic occupation sites in the Côa Valley (Portugal).

Age (500 to 0 B.C.E.), into Modern and Contemporary Times (fifteenth to twentieth century), and finishing only in the 1950s (Baptista 1999; Baptista and Gomes 1998; García Díez and Luís 2003).


Chapter 7

Figure 7.2 Penascosa, panel 3 – typical Upper Palaeolithic superimposition of a horse and several aurochs and goats (Baptista 1999:99); detail of an abraided aurochs and a pecked horse (Baptista 1999:32) (panel dimensions 139 x 173 cm).

The Upper Palaeolithic Rock Art and its Artists The Côa Valley rock art presents all the features that define the Palaeolithic artistic canon (Figure 7.3). Its main theme consists of large herbivores, many of which can be found in contemporary ecosystems. The most represented species are the caprids: mountain and chamois

Same Tradition, Different Views


Figure 7.3 Partial view of Rego da Vide, panel 5 (Baptista 1999:184); details – drawing of the same part of the panel (Baptista and Gomes 1998:302); José Alcino Tomé and his iron pick (García Díez and Luís 2003:205).

goats (23%). They are followed by horses, more robust than modern ones, with standing manes, and similar to the present day Equus przewalskii (21%). The bovines are represented by the extinct aurochs, with their lyre-shaped horns (15%). The fourth most depicted species is cervidae (11%), with a few representations of fish (Baptista 1999). All these species have been identified in Portuguese Upper Palaeolithic


Chapter 7

sites, as, for example, in the Extremadura region where faunal remains were also preserved (Davis 2002). Moreover, in the Côa Valley there is an absence of several species that are found in the Franco-Cantabrian region, such as the mammoth, reindeer, and woolly rhinoceros. These are also absent in the Portuguese archaeological record (Zilhão 1997), owing to differences in ecological conditions. One particularly distinct group in terms of its nature and form of representation is that of human figures. At present, only two panels have been identified with this type of figure (Ribeira de Piscos 2 and 24). These are depicted less realistically than the animals and display incomplete upper and lower limbs and distorted faces (Baptista 2001). The final group of motifs encompasses signs and symbols (5%), such as zigzags, stepped lines, tectiforms, wavy lines, and so on. These figures are sometimes isolated, but they often are associated either with scenes or superimpositions. Scenes are associations between animals of the same species in a way we could consider ‘natural’, such as through the representation of herds or through other animal behaviours such as mating and grooming (Ribeira de Piscos 1). It is notable that an association between people and animals has not been recorded. Most commonly, individual representations appear to be superimposed, in differing orientations, either in a small part of a panel or using the entire rock surface. This makes it difficult for the untrained eye to perceive them and for researchers to interpret them fully. It seems that the act of engraving in a certain space, perhaps on a certain occasion, was far more important than making the individual figure easily perceived afterward. The anatomy of animals is portrayed in profile, with the exception of the horns, which are twisted in a way that makes both of them visible. The dorsal line is sinuous, and the bellies are voluminous. Several of these graphic conventions can be related to artistic relations between French and Spanish cave and portable art, notably Parpalló, La Pileta, Pair-Non-Pair, and Mayenne-Sciences (Guy 2000; Zilhão 1995). Although the Côa Valley rock art is perfectly integrated into a Palaeolithic canon, it also presents some rare features, the most important of which concerns animation. A limited, but important, group of representations was executed in such a way that conveys movement. Instead of depicting an animal with a single head, Palaeolithic artists drew two to three heads in successive stages of movement on the same animal, thus conveying its movement downward or backward. With this technique, very close to that of today’s animation and comics, they were able to bring their representations to life, showing a notable capacity of abstraction and ingenuity. The dominant technique of representation in the Palaeolithic art of the Côa Valley is engraving and is identified through four different

Same Tradition, Different Views


methods: fine-line incision, pecking, abrasion, and scraping (Baptista 1999; Zilhão et al. 1997). Fine-line incisions were produced by using a fine but resistant stone to scratch the surface of the panel. By pecking, we refer to those lines obtained through direct or indirect percussion, creating an irregular outline easily visible at considerable distances. Abrasion corresponds to deep and wide lines, with V or U shape furrows, produced by the continuous and repeated action of incision on the same surface. These three techniques can complement one another, in different phases, to create one motif. In such cases, the fine-line incision was used first as a sketch, then pecked and finally deepened and made regular through abrasion. A completely different and less well represented technique is scraping, which is used to define the image, resulting in a chromatic contrast between the original surface of the panel and the scraped area. This technique was probably done with a pebble. Apart from this, we should not exclude the possibility of some figures having been painted, but the open-air conditions did not allow for their preservation. The only indication of painting as a technique in the Côa Valley are five aurochs heads depicted in red paint located underneath a shelter in the granite site of Faia. The paint was used to fill the engraved lines and also to draw other lines that were not engraved, such as the muzzle (Baptista 2001). Since 1995, soon after the modern recognition of Upper Palaeolithic rock art in the Côa Valley, researchers began to study its human context. For a long time, the interior of the Iberian Peninsula was seen as being empty of human settlement during the Upper Palaeolithic, with very few exceptions (Zilhão et al. 1997). Today there are approximately 30 known sites, located along both riverbanks of the Côa River (Figure 7.2). From the excavation of several of these sites, typological study of their lithic tools and thermoluminescence dating (TL), it is possible to know the chrono-stratigraphic sequence of this art (Aubry et al. 2002; Valladas et al. 2001). Upper Palaeolithic occupation began during the Gravettian. This is certified not only by lithic assemblages in sites such as Cardina and Olga Grande 4 and 14 but also by several TL dates, with an average of 27,900 ± 1,400 B.P. for Cardina, and 28,700 ± 1,800 B.P. for Olga Grande 4. The Terminal Gravettian has also been identified at the same sites as the Proto-Solutrean (Aubry et al. 2002; Valladas et al. 2001). There is evidence also for the Solutrean, although it seems these settlements have suffered from sedimentary erosion. There is evidence of an early Magdalenian occupation, and a late phase of this culture is also documented, notably in Quinta da Barca Sul, which presents a TL date of 12,100 ± 600 B.P. (Aubry et al. 2002; Valladas et al. 2001). The continuity between these two phases is not certain.


Chapter 7

The geomorphological distribution of these sites is relevant to the ways in which this territory was used (Aubry et al. 2003, 2004). The first type of site location to be identified is that on the bottom of the valley, near the river, such as Cardina and Quinta da Barca Sul. Cardina stands out by virtue of its recurrent use in the Upper Palaeolithic, the high density of its remains, and the identification of a feature related to the construction of a hut, which seems to point to a residential use (Aubry et al. 2003). The large group of Olga Grande sites document the second type of location. These sites occupy a large granitic plateau above the river. Micro-morphological studies (Aubry et al. 2004) have identified the freezing and thawing that has affected the archaeological layers at these sites. In Olga Grande 4, several large fire structures formed by quartz and large granite stones were found associated with Gravettian lithic tools. While organic material was not preserved, ongoing studies suggest that the use of this site related to the initial processing of hunted game. These hunting places are often associated with the formation of ponds owing to defrosting. Several quartzite picks were found at Olga Grande 4. Associated with the Gravettian layer, these picks have a triangular shaped point, which is similar in shape and size to the kind of implement that produced several of the pecked representations, such as the incomplete pecked horse of Canada do Inferno 1 (Aubry 2002). The last site type is directly related to the rock art. Although several attempts were made to establish a direct relationship between the archaeological record and the rock art, they were not successful until December 1999, when an excavation was conducted near Fariseu’s panel 1. Upper Palaeolithic layers at this location lay in direct contact with an engraved panel (Aubry and Baptista 2000; Aubry et al. 2002; García Díez and Aubry 2002). OSL and TL datings obtained from stratigraphically collected samples gave a minimum date of 15,000 B.P. for the panel engraving (Mercier et al. 2006). This is the first direct dating of an open-air Palaeolithic rock art site in Europe. During September/October 2005, new fieldwork made it possible to identify a new part of the engraved panel, but most importantly it was possible to recover 50 schist slabs containing artistic representations, as well as the first Palaeolithic faunal remains from the Côa Valley (Aubry 2006). These remains have provided radiocarbon dates for the most recent phase of Palaeolithic rock art, at around 10,500 B.P. (Aubry 2006). Ongoing studies will shed new light on the relationship between the artistic themes and the human occupation of the valley. As mentioned above, flint does not occur naturally in the Côa Valley. Despite this important ecological limitation, the presence of flint within some sites and the study of other kind of raw materials and the location

Same Tradition, Different Views


of the sources are providing interesting information in recent studies (Aubry and Mangado Llach 2003; Aubry et al. 2003, 2004). These studies show that the Gravettian, Solutrean, and Magdalenian hunters used relatively common local raw materials, such as rock crystal, quartz, and quartzite. For specific tools they used the limited silicious rocks sourced from a 50-km radius within the Côa River basin. Although similar, these silicious rocks do not exhibit the same qualities as flint. The studies of T. Aubry and X. Mangado show that flint arrived to the Côa sites in small quantities, from the Gravettian to the Magdalenian. Its origins were the Portuguese Extremadura, along the Tagus basin, but also the Meseta, 150 to 250 km from the Côa Valley (Aubry and Mangado Llach 2003; Aubry et al. 2003, 2004). Since flint came from sources outside the valley, either the Côa Valley was visited by seasonal incursions, or there was a local group that was seasonally visited by groups from these different locations. Current research tends to favour the second hypothesis, based on the fact that the inhabitants of the valley appeared to have perfect knowledge of all the local lithic raw materials, some of which have very limited sources (Aubry and Mangado Llach 2003; Aubry et al. 2003, 2004). Whatever the case, both these hypotheses based on raw material procurement indicate that the Côa Valley could have been an aggregation space during the Gravettian and possibly continued as such until the Magdalenian. It was during this time period that rock art was being produced. A third hypothesis – that the local group went abroad to gather flint from distant and opposed sources – has been discarded for three major reasons (Thierry Aubry, pers. comm. May 4, 2005). First, such a group territory, whether intensively explored or used only for flint gathering expeditions, has never been recorded ethnographically. Second, contemporary and comparable sites in Portuguese Extremadura have flint exploitation territories of around a 30-km radius (Aubry and Mangado Llach 2003), similar to the local exploitation territories of silicious rocks in the Côa Valley. Third, the low density of flint nodules in these sources would make it economically unviable to organize expeditions to gather it.

Modern Rock Art and José Alcino Tomé Post-Palaeolithic rock art is not as numerous as previous forms of art. The Late Prehistory rock art cycle (5,500 to 3,000 B.C.E.) is represented by schematic anthropomorphic representations, painted mostly in red, although there is also evidence of engraving (Baptista 1999). This form of anthropomorphic art is documented in rock shelters, on megaliths,


Chapter 7

and in pottery motifs from the Iberian Peninsula (Sanchidrián 2001; Torregosa and Galiana 2001). The Iron Age (500 B.C.E. to 1 C.E.) is the second most important phase in the valley. Throughout this phase, the representations continue to be mostly anthropomorphic, but this time they are engraved, and there is a clear relationship between men and animals in the form of warriors on horseback. These warriors carry weaponry, such as shields, spears, and swords. This rock art begins the historical phase of the Côa Valley rock art, with an alphabetic inscription in the celtiberian language (Vale da Casa 23) (Baptista 1999). Although it has been pointed out that rock art is generally produced by nonliterate societies (Taçon and Chippindale 1998), that is not the case in the Côa Valley, where historical rock art has been identified in 12 different sites (Baptista 1999; Baptista and Gomes 1998). Most of these sites also contain Palaeolithic rock art, but the motifs are rarely superimposed in the same panel (Baptista and Gomes 1998; Zilhão et al. 1997). Themes are varied but can be grouped into four types: naturalistic, religious, everyday life, and alphabetic and numeric inscriptions. The naturalistic themes are composed of motifs such as fish, birds, flowers, and other vegetation. The religious theme is extremely common. Besides crosses and cruciform representations there are also a considerable number of monstrances related to the Holy Ghost cult. Instances of everyday life are one of the most recent themes, directly related to the commencement of industrial activity of milling in the valley. Finally, alphabetic inscriptions occur either singly or in association with other motifs. Generally they act as ‘certificates’ of authorship and time period (García Díez and Luís 2003). These numeric inscriptions date the first historical engravings of the seventeenth and eighteenth century, which is confirmed by the typology of the letters (Baptista and Gomes 1998). However, religious symbols began in the previous centuries (fifteenth to eighteenth). The most recent inscriptions date from the 1940s and 1950s. Most representations regarding everyday life, such as boats, fish, birds, bridges, and trains, are associated with the twentieth century. This is determined by some engraved motifs being associated with dates and having a similar technique and patina. Modern graffiti made in reaction to the recognition of this rock art are not considered, since the main goal of these graffiti was to destroy the recently recognised cultural heritage as a reaction against its preservation. Even though, for us, these motifs are not as important as the rock art itself, they can still be seen as symbols of more recent individual/social identity in the Côa Valley.

Same Tradition, Different Views


In terms of techniques, pecking dominates and fine-line incision appears only rarely. Pecking was produced by metallic picks, confirmed by close analysis of the panels and also from an account by José Alcino Tomé (García Díez and Luís 2003), one of the last engravers of the Côa Valley. Shortly before he died, we had an opportunity to interview him. His life experience had the potential to contribute to knowledge of rock art in two ways. First, because it is direct testimony, it could contribute to an understanding of the modern Côa Valley rock art by providing information on the methods that were used (Taçon and Chippindale 1998). Second, Tomé’s account can also be used to compare with past artistic experiences, using the methods of ethnoarchaeology. This is the subject of a previous paper, which focused primarily on the artistic graphic process (García Díez and Luís 2003). Our interview with José Alcino Tomé was conducted in his house in Vila Nova de Foz Côa on 15th December 2000. Through this interview we got to know his life story and, more specifically, the context within which Tomé engraved. José Alcino Tomé was born in Vila Nova de Foz Côa on 12 March 1925. Having undertaken his fourth-grade examination, he went to work in his family’s watermills in Rego da Vide, near Canada do Inferno. He left these mills at the age of 18, when he was conscripted for military service. After the army, he tried to immigrate illegally to France, where he had family, but he was arrested in Madrid and delivered at the border to the Portuguese political police. Meanwhile, he had married Balbina de Jesus, with whom he had two sons and one daughter. He was able to immigrate to Nampula (Mozambique) in 1951 and returned in 1975, after the decolonization of Portugal. He lived poorly in Vila Nova de Foz Côa until his death in February 2002. Alcino Tomés’s known artistic corpus is scarce. It comprises five panels, distributed in two different rock art sites 2.8 km apart, Rego da Vide and Foz Côa at the mouth of the Côa. Both sites are related to milling. Panel 2 of Rego da Vide Tomé depicted two anchors, a fish (associated with the inscription O BARBO [Barbus bocagei]), and the inscription ALCINO/TOMÉ/1944 above what seems to be a scale, a cross, and another numeric inscription (18 4 40) (Baptista and Gomes 1998). On panel 3 we found one anthropomorphized representation of the sun and two of the moon in crescent, associated with the inscriptions ADEUS/ A LUA/E O SOL (Goodbye the moon and the sun) and 1943/JOSÉ/ ALCINO/TOMÉ. Panel 4 contains the inscription (TOMÉ/1944[?]), two monstrances, and one Latin cross. Only the inscription should be attributed to Tomé, as the morpho-metric features of the rest of the figures are quite different. On panel 5 there is a representation of a


Chapter 7

long-legged bird, presumably a stork, with a fish close to its beak, and underneath, the inscription ALCINO/TOMÉ/1946. In this panel we also find a locomotive crossing an iron bridge, with the inscription 1944/ALCINO/TOMÉ, and a representation of a skull and two tibiae with the inscription TOMÉ/1943/MORTE (death). In this panel there are two other groups of engravings that cannot be attributed to Alcino Tomé: one sailing boat with the initials AJN and another ‘1850/giraldes’ (Figure 7.4). On panel 2 at Foz do Côa, there is a train, very similar to that depicted in Rego da Vide 5, this time above a simple line with the inscription 1946 and the letter T. (Baptista 1999). Apart from these panels, Tomé’s account also refers to a mermaid on a panel on Douro’s left bank.

Figure 7.4 Newspaper article that first published the Côa rock art (title: ‘Foz Côa Dam Threatens Archaeological Findings’, Publico, November 21, 1994).

Same Tradition, Different Views


Today this entire ensemble is underwater because of the construction of Pocinho Dam in 1983. It was possible to document these engravings in 1995 only as the result of a lowering of the water level behind the dam to study Palaeolithic rock art. Alcino Tomé’s memory of engraving on the Côa riverbanks places these actions within the time that he worked in his family’s mills, between the end of his school days and the army, when he was 14 to 16 years old. However, this account contradicts the dates he inscribed, which indicate that he was 18 to 20 years old at the time he made these depictions (1943, 1944, and 1946). Whatever the case, he was between his teens and early adulthood. Tomé’s parents owned one of the many mills of Canada do Inferno, near a small brook that runs into the Côa, Rego da Vide. When he finished elementary school, his job was to grind wheat, rye, and barley, while his father transported grain from his customers to the mill and then brought the flour back. The existence of Tomé’s engravings at two different sites, Rego da Vide and Foz do Côa, derives from the custom of the Côa millers to move to the Douro river between St. John’s day (24 June) and Christmas day, when the Côa ‘lost its waters’. Tomé’s parents had a watermill in Rego da Vide, near the Côa, and another in the Douro. This means that the modern engravings at both sites were executed at different times of the year. During his father’s absences Tomé spent most of his time alone, milling, cooking his food, and washing his clothes. He worked continually throughout the night, lighted by small oil lamps, listening to the foxes barking to threaten the chickens. It was during these times that he engraved. Work came first: ‘I ground the cereal, got everything ready, and then went to do it’. His father didn’t care whether he engraved or not, as long as he completed his work first. One important question was his choice of panel. Tomé said that he chose the panels that were smooth, and that he could see well. Each engraving was done in three stages. He would ‘think first’. Then, with a ‘small thin stone’, he would ‘draw’. Finally, ‘over the line, toc, toc, toc’ he would ‘deepen’ or ‘peck’ with an iron pick. This pick was the tool Tomé used to resharpen the ‘upper grinding wheels’ of the mill, when they were ‘tired’, and losing their ‘teeth’. The result of this technique is very similar to Palaeolithic pecking. The main difference, apart from the whiteness of the traits, is that modern pecking exhibits rounded and regular impacts, whereas Palaeolithic pecking has more irregular and triangular impacts. Tomé’s themes were based on his individual experience, with everyday elements associated with common and real scenes. For example, the stork fishing, the train crossing the bridge, or, less explicitly, the


Chapter 7

sun, the moon, and the inscription ‘goodbye’, portraying the transition between day and night, or the passage of time. Questioned specifically about the nature of his themes, he was able to say only that ‘it was what came to my mind’. Even specific themes were difficult for him to explain. When interviewed, Alcino Tomé had difficulty in explaining directly the motivation behind his acts, saying ‘it was ideas, imagination’. Even so, throughout the whole interview one could perceive a number of possible motivations for his work. Leisure time was one of them. Milling work was not constant, there were moments of inactivity, while his father was absent and the wheels were doing their work. Another reason could be the tradition of the place. Canada do Inferno and Rego da Vide both exhibit an artistic tradition that began during the Upper Palaeolithic. In fact, Alcino said that he ‘saw those old ones, and then I got excited’. He recognised the local tradition, and it was a probable source of inspiration. Associated with this, there was the desire for individual perpetuation. ‘I thought of the old ones’ and ‘Let me draw, so that when I die it will also be engraved here’ – hence the name and date inscriptions. It is unclear whether the ‘old ones’ Tomé refers to were the Palaeolithic or historical depictions. We believe they were the most recent ones, because most of the Palaeolithic ones were already invisible owing to patina and lichen colonization. The rock art was known by few people, mostly millers and shepherds ‘who passed by, saw them’, ‘but they didn’t care’. It is clear that engraving did not imply any social recognition. Concerning the value of his work, Alcino Tomé said simply: ‘that has value . . . it’s memories from past times’, ‘memories that one has’.

Modern Identification of the Rock Art The 1950s saw the end of the millers’ activity and their art. Most of them emigrated, and the Côa riversides were almost abandoned until 1991, when the construction of a dam was announced. The dam consisted of a large, highly expensive infrastructure that inundated a large part of the valley’s lower section. In 1991, the first engraved panel with Palaeolithic motifs was found in the Côa Valley (Canada do Inferno 1) (Baptista 1999; Rebanda 1995). This find was not revealed at the time, and work on the dam began. At the end of summer 1993, when work on the dam’s construction lowered the water level at the mouth of the Côa River, a surprising number of engravings were found at Canada do Inferno. This information was revealed only in November 1994 in a newspaper article that accused the construction

Same Tradition, Different Views


company and the accompanying parties of hiding the finds (Carvalho 1994; Zilhão 2004). The exposure of the engravings posed a dilemma: to continue the construction or to preserve the engravings. This aroused a national and international debate (Gonçalves 1998; Jorge 1995; Luís 2000; Zilhão 2004). Defending the dam was EDP, the company responsible for its construction and for the distribution of electricity in Portugal. This company presented several forceful arguments: the amount of money already invested in the construction and the necessity of electricity and water, as well as initial doubts as to the age of the engravings. On the side of conservation of the engravings were the Portuguese scientific community, augmented by foreign researchers, the opposition political party, and a considerable part of Portuguese public opinion, motivated by a public information campaign carried out by the Portuguese media. In Vila Nova de Foz, feelings about Côa were contradictory. The town council and a large part of the population defended the construction of the dam, using the arguments of job creation and economic development. Despite this, one of the most significant movements of support was carried out by the students of the local school, which organized the world’s first rock art demonstration (Bahn 1995). In October 1995, a newly elected government decided to suspend the dam’s construction and created the Côa Valley Archaeological Park (PAVC) and the National Centre of Rock Art (CNART) to promote public access to, and academic investigation of, the rock art and its context. On 2 July 1997, the Côa Valley rock art sites were classified as national monuments, and in December 1998, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee included them on the World Heritage List. None of the sides in the debate considered the historic engravings, even though they were already reported (Baptista 1983).

Discussion The Côa Valley case shows that different social groups in different times engraved different motifs in the same space, using the same supports and similar techniques. More than this, however, they also incorporated rock art into their social identity in different ways. It is difficult to know whether 28,000- to 10,000-years-old societies used rock art to reproduce or construct their identities. Our limited knowledge about the Côa Valley and the degree to which we can access these societies does not allow us to give a definitive answer. For the archaeologist and the historian, artistic expression is valued as the expression of the society that produced it. Whether they support totemism, sympathetic


Chapter 7

magic, structuralism, or shamanism, prehistorians see Palaeolithic art as a reflex of hunter-gatherers’ sociocultural system. It constitutes one of the keys for understanding its authors’ way of life and mentality. And although it may not reflect directly the artists’ diet, there is an obvious relationship between its themes and their daily life. These men and women were hunters, and they depicted the large herbivores that were typical of their environments. Therefore, it is generally accepted that Côa Valley Upper Palaeolithic rock art reproduced hunter-gatherers’ social identity. One of the criteria used to inscribe it on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List was ‘The Côa Valley rock art throws light on the social, economic, and spiritual life of the early ancestors of humankind in a wholly exceptional manner’ (UNESCO 1999). But if Upper Palaeolithic rock art can be seen by scholars as the reproduction of a society’s ideology, then it could also have been used to construct that society’s own identity. The Côa Valley investigation seems to indicate this. The different sources for Upper Palaeolithic lithic raw material suggest that the Côa Valley was an aggregation territory. Based on their knowledge of raw materials in the region, a local group inhabited this space all year long. This group would have been visited by other groups from geographically distant areas, bringing flint with them, and possibly other items we can no longer identify owing to their decay. The significant and extensive artistic expression in this aggregation space leads us to think that this art was used to construct these groups’ social identity, or at least to produce a certain degree of cohesion among them. It was a part of their social identity, and it was through this that these geographically distant groups identified themselves as belonging to a larger entity. This idea is not particularly new, since Upper Palaeolithic rock art in general and the Côa Valley case in particular have already been interpreted as the product of such a social reality, on the basis of the art’s formal features, without consideration of excavated archaeological contexts (Baptista and García Díez 2002). Until recently, this rock art had lost its meaning to local communities. They were a different society who did not integrate rock art in their categorization or identity. This fact is illustrated by the various viewpoints expressed by the local population during the debate over the dam. Palaeolithic rock art was negligible in the face of the larger issue of modern development. And, although the scientific community argued the importance of the Palaeolithic Côa Valley rock art, locals did not integrate this into their social categorization. The fozcoenses (local residents of Foz Côa) were not concerned with the destruction of modern rock art either, irrespective of whether it was valued by archaeologists. From José Alcino Tomé’s account, we

Same Tradition, Different Views


can realize that this art was part of his personal identity, but it was not relevant to him at the level of society. It was the expression of individuals, not of a group. Even the artists showed no great concerns with it being inundated owing to the Pocinho Dam. Alcino Tomé just said he was sorry, but seemed content. It was the price of development. In a similar manner, modern rock art was not incorporated into local people’s social identity. We would like to stress that the analysis presented here has its limitations. Since we are comparing chronologically distant realities and basing our conclusions on different types of documents – archaeological and indirect, on one side, oral and direct, on the other – we should question whether taphonomic processes are influencing our conclusions. However, when talking about an Upper Palaeolithic society we are obviously generalizing. During 18,000 years there was surely evolution and mutation, even though its rate may have been slower. Nevertheless, from the current data we conclude that these two social groups perceived rock art differently. Palaeolithic hunters integrated rock art as a part of their social and cultural identity, whereas modern fozcoenses saw it as something that was the product of individual will, the millers’. In addition, they did not differentiate the most ancient examples from modern rock art, as we can see from Alcino’s report. It was others, an outgroup of archaeologists, who categorized this rock art and forced the locals to perceive it as their own heritage, albeit his heritage that was seen by the locals as an impediment to progress as they understood it. It was the ‘archaeologists’, from Lisbon and abroad, who identified the locals with the rock art. Since this categorization was forced from the outside, it was not accepted by the local, and particularly the older, population. In summary, Archaeologists perceive Upper Palaeolithic rock art as a reproduction of Upper Palaeolithic societies, but, as the Côa Valley research shows, it could also have been a means to construct these groups’ social identity. Rock art was produced within the context of a society in which geographically distant groups would gather periodically in the Côa Valley area. The act of producing this art, the associated rites, and its meaning could have been one way to make different individuals and groups feel a part of a larger entity. In the twentieth century, local people from Foz Côa did not recognize this art as theirs. Today, mostly because of the economic profits that the rock art may bring, and also because of the coming of age of the youngsters who defended the rock art against destruction, people are slowly beginning to accept this art. It seems as if the archaeologists are helping to construct a new social identity for the fozcoenses. Only time will tell if they will ever fully identify with the Côa Valley’s rock art.


Chapter 7

In this chapter, we have argued that the Côa Valley rock art was perceived differently in these two totally different societies, even if it was produced on the same kind of support and using similar techniques. To demonstrate this, we have used two different methods, the archaeological for the Palaeolithic and the ethnographic for the modern society, based on one miller’s life story and the local population’s reaction to the construction of a dam that would destroy the rock art. These two kinds of rock art were produced in different contexts and had necessarily different meanings. We have used ethnographic analogy only to compare the Palaeolithic graphic process with that of the modern miller (García Díez and Luís 2003). This analogy is focused on the fact that the same kind of rock panels were engraved, sometimes using the same technique. We do not suggest that they both have the same significance. On the contrary, our goal is to state that these two graphic expressions had different social significance. We conclude that, besides some formal similarities, the social significance of this rock art was different for each society. Palaeolithic rock art was the symbolic expression of a hunter-gatherer society, which we are only beginning to understand. Nevertheless, by combining the archaeological data with analysis of the artistic expression, we can state that the rock art was the representation of a community that used it to strengthen its cohesion. In contrast, modern rock art was the expression of individuals. Although it can be interpreted by researchers as the representation of an industrialised society with its Catholic beliefs, its production and appreciation were not related to group identity.

Acknowledgment The English translation of this paper has been kindly reviewed by Claire Smith and Heather Burke. However, any faults remain exclusively our own.

References Aragonés, J. I., J. A. Corraliza, B. Cortés, and M. Amérigo. 1992. ‘Perception of territory and social identity’. In Proceedings IAPS 12 Internacional Conference II, Marmaras, Greece, Socio-Environmental Metamorphoses, Builtscape, Landscape, Ethnoscape, Euroscape, 252–59. Aubry, T. 2002. ‘Le contexte archéologique de l’art paléolithique à l’air libre de la vallée du Côa’. In D. Sacchi (ed.), L’art paléolithique à l’air libre: Le paysage modifié par l’image (Tautavel, Campôme, 7–9 Octobre 1999), Saint-Estève, GAEP, 25–38. ———. 2006. ‘Vallée du Côa: Un art préhistorique unique’, Archéologia 436:62–71. Aubry, T., and A. M. Baptista. 2000. ‘Une datation objective de l’art du Côa’, Hors Série (4) La Recherche 54–55.

Same Tradition, Different Views


Aubry, T., F.-X. Chauvière, X. Mangado, J. D. Sampaio. 2003. ‘Constitution, territoires d’approvisionnement et fonction des sites du Paléolithique supérieur de la basse vallée du Côa (Portugal)’. In S. A. Vasil’ev, O. Soffer, and J. Koslowski (eds.), Perceived Landscapes and Built Environments: The Cultural Geography of Late Paleolithic Eurasia. Oxford: Archeopress, BAR International Series 1122, 83–92. Aubry, T., and M. García Díez. 2001. ‘Actualité sur la chronologie et l´interprétation de l´art de la vallée du Côa (Portugal)’, Les Nouvelles de l´Archeologie 82:52–57. Aubry, T., and X. Mangado Llach. 2003. ‘Interprétation de l’approvisionnement en matières premières siliceuses sur les sites du Paléolithique supérieur de la vallée du Côa (Portugal)’. In Les matières premières lithiques en Préhistoire (table ronde internationale organisée à Aurillac, Cantal, du 20 au 22 juin 2002), [S.l.], Association Préhistoire du Sud-Ouest (Prehistoire du Sud-Ouest; Supplément nº 5), 27–40. Aubry, T., X. Mangado Llach, J. D. Sampaio, and F. Sellami. 2002. ‘Open-air rock-art and modes of exploitation during the Upper Paleolithic in the Côa Valley (Portugal)’, Antiquity 76:62–76. Aubry, T., X. Mangado, J. M. Fullola, L. Rosell, and J. D. Sampaio. 2004. ‘Raw material procurement in the Upper Paleolithic settlements of the Côa Valley (Portugal): New data concerning modes of resource exploitation in Iberia’. In O. V. Smyntyna (ed.), The Use of Living Space in Prehistory: Papers from a Session Held at the European Association of Archaeologists Sixth Annual Meeting in Lisbon 2000, Oxford: Archeopress (BAR International Series; 1224), 37–50. Bahn, P. G. 1995. ‘Cave art without the caves’, Antiquity 69:231–37. Baptista, A. M. 1983. ‘O complexo de gravuras rupestres do Vale da Casa (Vila Nova de Foz Côa)’, Arqueologia 8:57–69. ———. 1999. No tempo sem tempo: A arte dos caçadores paleolíticos do Vale do Côa: Com uma perspectiva dos ciclos rupestres pós-glaciares, Vila Nova de Foz Côa: Parque Arqueológico do Vale do Côa. ———. 2001. ‘The quaternary rock art of the Côa Valley’. In J. Zilhão, T. Aubry, and A. Carvalho, (eds.), Les premiers hommes modernes de la péninsule ibérique (Actes du Colloque de la Commission VIII de l’UISPP. Vila Nova de Foz Côa, 22–24 Octobre 1998). Lisboa: IPA, 237–52. Baptista, A. M., and M. García Díez. 2002. ‘L’art paléolithique dans la vallée du Côa (Portugal): La symbolique dans l’organisation d’un sanctuaire de plein air’. In D. Sacchi (ed.), L’art paléolithique à l’air libre: Le paysage modifié par l’image (Tautavel, Campôme, 7–9 Octobre 1999), Saint-Estève, GAEP; GÉOPRE, 187–205. Baptista, A. M., and M. V. Gomes. 1998. ‘Arte rupestre’. In J. Zilhão (ed.), Arte Rupestre e Pré-História do Vale do Côa: Trabalhos de 1995–1996, Lisboa, Ministério da Cultura, 211–409. Berger, P. L., and T. Luckmann. 1966. La construcción social de la realidad. Barcelona: Herder. Blumer, H. 1982. El Interaccionismo Simbólico: Perspectiva y método. Barcelona: Hora. Carvalho, M. 1994. ‘Barragem de Foz Côa ameaça achado arqueológico’. In O Público 21/11/94. Davis, S. 2002. ‘The mammals and birds from the Gruta do Caldeirão’, Revista Portuguesa de Arqueologia 5(2):29–98. García Díez, M., and L. Luís. 2003. ‘José Alcino Tomé e o último ciclo artístico rupestre do Vale do Côa: Um caso de etnoarqueologia’, Estudos Pré-Históricos 10–11, 199–223. García Díez, M., and T. Aubry. 2002. ‘Grafismo mueble en el Valle del Côa (Vila Nova de Foz Côa, Portugal): La estación arqueológica de Fariseo’, Zephyrus 55:157–82. Gonçalves, M. E. 1998. ‘Science, controversy and participation: The case of the Côa rock art engravings’, Journal of Iberian Archaeology 0:7–31. Guy, E. 2000. ‘Le style des figurations paléolithiques piquetées de la vallée du Côa (Portugal): Premier essai de caractérisation’, L’Anthropologie 104:415–26.


Chapter 7

Jorge, V. O. 1995. Dossier Côa. Porto: Sociedade Portuguesa de Antropologia e Etnologia. Lorblanchet, M. 1995. Les grottes ornées de la Préhistoire: Nouveaux regards. Paris: Errance. Luís, L. 2000. ‘Patrimoine archéologique et politique dans la vallée du Côa au Portugal’, Les Nouvelles de l’Archéologie 82:47–52. Mercier, N., H. Valladas, T. Aubry, J. Zilhão, J.-L. Jorons, J.-L. Reyss, and F. Sellami. 2006. ‘Fariseu: First confirmed open-air Palaeolithic parietal art site in the Côa Valley (Portugal)’ [online], Antiquity 80 (310) [cited 25 September 2006]: http://antiquity. Proshansky, H. M., A. Fabian, and W. Kaminoff. 1983. ‘Place-identity: Physical world socialization of the self’, Journal of Environmental Psychology 3:57–83. Rebanda, N. 1995. Os trabalhos arqueológicos e o complexo de arte rupestre do Côa. Lisboa: Instituto Português do Património Arquitectónico e Arqueológico. Sanchidrián, J. L. 2001. Manual de arte prehistórico. Barcelona: Ariel. Stokols, D. 1990. ‘Instrumental and spiritual views of people-environment relations’, American Psychologist 45(5):641–46. Taçon, P., and C. Chippindale. 1998. ‘An archaeology of rock-art through informed and formal methods’. In P. Taçon and C. Chippindale (eds.), The Archaeology of Rock-art. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1–10. Tajfel, H., and J. C. Turner. 1986. ‘The social identity theory of intergroup behaviour’. In S. Worchel and W. Austin (eds.), The Social Psychology of Intergroup Behaviour. Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 7–24. Torregosa, P., and Mª. F. Galiana. 2001. ‘El arte esquemático del Levante peninsular: Una aproximación a su dimensión temporal’, Millars 24:153–98. UNESCO. 1999. Report on the Twenty-Second Session of the World Heritage Commission. Kyoto, Japan (30 November–5 December 1998). Paris: World Heritage Commission. Valladas, H., N. Mercier, L. Froget, J.-L. Jorons, J.-L. Reyss, and T. Aubry. 2001. ‘TL dating of Upper Palaeolithic sites in the Côa Valley (Portugal)’, Quaternary Science Reviews 20(5–9):939–43. Zilhão, J. 1995. ‘The age of the Côa Valley (Portugal) rock-art: Validation of archaeological dating to the Paleolithic and refutation of “scientific” dating to historic or protohistoric times’, Antiquity 69:883–901. ———. 1997. O Paleolítico Superior da Estremadura Portuguesa. Lisboa: Edições Colibri. ———. 2003. ‘Vers une chronologie plus fine du cycle ancien de l´art paléolithique de la Côa: Quelques hypothèses de travail’. In R. de Balbín and P. Bueno (eds.), El Arte Rupestre Prehistórico desde los Inicios del Siglo XXI. Ribadesella: Asociación Cultural Amigos de Ribadesella, 75–87. ———. 2004. ‘Public archaeology and political dynamics in Portugal’, Public Archaeology 3:167–81. Zilhão, J., T. Aubry, A. F. Carvalho, A. M. Baptista, M. V. Gomes, and J. Meireles. 1997. ‘The rock art of the Côa Valley (Portugal) and its archaeological context: First results of current research’, Journal of European Archaeology 5(1):7–49.

CHAPTER 8 Learning Art, Learning Culture: Art, Education, and the Formation of New Artistic Identities in Arnhem Land, Australia Sally K. May

In the face of globalization and other ‘postmodern’ and transnational processes of identity formation, what kind of ‘community’ might offer a conceptual meeting-ground between culture, collectivity, and individual selfhood? (Amit and Rapport 2002:9)

This chapter is an exploration of how art has provided such a meeting ground for culture, collectivity, and individual selfhood in a remote Aboriginal community in Australia. In Kunbarlanja (otherwise known as Oenpelli or Gunbalanya), western Arnhem Land, rock-painting-inspired contemporary art has assisted in the formation of contemporary social and group identities for Aboriginal men and women. From learning to paint under the guidance of rock artists, to using rock paintings as inspiration and artistically adapting rock painting imagery for a contemporary audience, Kunbarlanja-based artists construct and renegotiate their individual and group identities through the production of their own art and their rock art inheritance. The interplay between past and present in this place has important archaeological implications. It is important to state early in this chapter that my argument for a ‘community’ is based on the notion that a community is a condition in which individuals are enmeshed in a web of ‘meaningful’ relationships with others (Minar and Greer 1969; Poplin 1979). Thus, people are identifying as artists, are participating in an artistic community, and are the new protagonists in arguably the world’s longest continuing artistic tradition. As argued by Morphy (2005:51), ‘archaeologists and anthropologists are inevitably involved in the process of developing an analytic metalanguage that is used in the analysis of data and the interpretation of culture’. Archaeologically, this research focused on visual art in western Arnhem Land, not just rock paintings but also contemporary paintings 171


Chapter 8

on bark or artists paper. As such, this research explored peoples shifting relationships with, motivations for, and the cultural significance of visual art. By focusing on paintings today and in the past, this research aims to contribute to the development of such a meta-language for the interpretation of rock paintings in this particular region. While not wishing to directly engage with the concept of ethnography and rock art in this chapter, we understand that rock painting is still practised in western Arnhem Land, although today this is rare. Rock painting is an ongoing part of western Arnhem Land Aboriginal culture, rather than just a part of its past. Even though there are varying art forms in Kunbarlanja (as there have always been), in this chapter I focus on one particular group of artists − young male painters. Most young painters working in Kunbarlanja today actively identify as part of a group of artists affiliated with a cooperative-type art centre called Injalak Arts and Crafts (henceforth, Injalak). As I argue later, young painters, in particular, engage with one another and this art centre in a way no other group does. They are the first ones to arrive at the art centre in the morning (or they sleep the night), they produce their art together on-site, they interact with non-Aboriginal staff on a daily basis, they are the most regular producers of art, and they are involved in other programs that the art centre organises − rock art tours, canvas painting workshops, and so forth. These artists self-identify as part of a unique ‘community’ within this remote township. Thus I argue that the art centre (as a place) activates and draws together particular social groupings to form a sense of identity and community. As Haley and associates (1997) and earlier Malinowski (1960) suggest, myth or history are often called on within communities to charter their collective identity. In this case, I focus on how the visual arts are called on to develop individual and group identity in western Arnhem Land. The relationship between art and identity is a primary focus of this chapter. However, when it comes to art forms, identity is often (implicitly or explicitly) related to style. In this chapter, I look at identity through the subject matter of contemporary paintings from Kunbarlanja. It is these artworks that bear witness to the new artistic community in Kunbarlanja. Importantly, subject matter is only one way of analysing identity in this region; it could also be approached through other aspects of the visual art, such as technique, place of production, medium, use of space, and more. To begin this chapter, I contextualise today’s art with a discussion of the rock paintings found in western Arnhem Land and the twentieth-century movement toward collecting ‘portable’ art from this region.

Learning Art, Learning Culture


Rock Paintings and Early Art Trading Kunbarlanja is a small community found in an area of Australia that was deliberately isolated from the majority of ‘white civilisation’ during the early twentieth century. It is part of the Arnhem Land reserve − an area spanning thousands of square miles that was set aside to ‘protect’ the Aboriginal people residing there from the negative influences of white society. To this day, a permit is required to enter Arnhem Land. Although disease, enforced religion, and other outside influences have left their mark on local cultural beliefs and practices, community members retain knowledge of sites, including rock art sites, on their land. Today, the primary Aboriginal language group producing art in Kunbarlanja are the Kunwinjku. Kunwinjku speakers come from a number of different clan groups who have traditional ownership of different areas of land and spiritual beliefs affiliated with the different landmarks, including the rock art within their land. Today, people from many different clan groups call Kunbarlanja home, but most will spend part of their year returning to their traditional lands. The artists I discuss in this chapter, therefore, are a mixture of clans and, as a group, represent an amazing pool of knowledge relating to the cultural beliefs and artistic traditions around western Arnhem Land. Some of the earliest evidence of ‘art’ anywhere in the world can be found in western Arnhem Land. For example, at the archaeological site Nauwalabila I, a large piece of high-quality haematite with ground facets and weighing over a kilogram was found and showed signs of having been used as a source of red pigment. This haematite was found in the lowest layer of the site dated between 53,000 to 60,000 B.P. (Flood 1997:9; Roberts, Jones, and Smith 1993:58−59). A similar date was found for the Malakunanja II site, just 70 km farther South. Pieces of ground haematite and red and yellow ochre were found throughout the layers, including the lowest and earliest (Flood 1997:6−11). This evidence does not mean that rock art was certainly being produced at this early stage, but it provides an interesting starting point for discussion. By 40,000 years ago, people were probably painting on rock in northern Australia and beginning what is thought to be the longest continuing artistic tradition in the world. Numerous researchers have discussed the rock art traditions specific to western Arnhem Land (see Brandl 1973; Chaloupka 1982, 1984, 1985, 1993; Lewis 1988; Taçon 1989; Taçon and Chippindale 1994). In general, as you would expect with tens of thousands of years worth of painting, styles are diverse in the western Arnhem Land region. Probably the most famous of these is the X-ray rock paintings whereby artists have depicted the internal organs of animals (see Figure 8.1). Little direct dating of rock art has taken


Chapter 8

Figure 8.1

Rock painting from western Arnhem Land in X-ray style.

place in this region, because commonly mineral pigments used lack datable organic compounds. Chronologies are largely based on stylistic details. Circumstantial evidence is also important − representations of long-extinct animals can be found painted on rock walls, again suggesting dates older than 20,000 years (Chaloupka and Giuliani 2005:9). Perhaps most relevant to this chapter is the link between rock paintings and Kunbarlanja’s most famously traded art form, bark painting. This link is undeniably strong, not only in the early contact period but also continuing through today as younger artists look to rock paintings for inspiration. Thompson Yulidjirri (12 October 2002), a senior Kunbarlanja community member, explains that bark was used to build shelters during the rainy season (the ‘wet’ season) in this region, and, in the same way as rock shelters, the inside of these bark shelters were often painted. He describes the purpose of these paintings as decoration and education − using painting to illustrate stories and to teach children about local ‘culture’. Taylor (1996:15) also suggests that Kunwinjku speakers associate the public nature of their bark paintings produced for sale with traditional realms of ‘public’ art, that is, rock and bark shelter art. Figure 8.2 shows a recent bark shelter from a nearby region. The earliest collections of paintings on bark were formed by explorers who simply removed sheets of bark from unused wet-season shelters (Brody 1985:14; Carrington 1890:73; Carroll 1983:44; May 2006:64;

Learning Art, Learning Culture


Figure 8.2 Wet season bark shelter from Mangalod on the Mann River, Central Arnhem Land (courtesy of Howard).

Taylor 1996:17; Worsnop 1897:37, pl. 18). This includes the earliest collection of western Arnhem Land bark paintings (Iwaidja language group), acquired by Foelsche from the Port Essington region for the Australian Museum in 1878 (Brody 1985:14; Cox 1878; Taylor 1996:16). Likewise, Carrington formed another important early collection in this way during his visit to Field Island in 1887 (Brody 1985:14; Carrington 1890:73; Carroll 1983:4; Taçon and Davies 2004). In 1912, however, the anthropologist Baldwin Spencer took the unprecedented step of commissioning paintings on bark from Kunbarlanja artists for the purpose of trade. Spencer was visiting the Northern Territory at the request of the Commonwealth Government of Australia in his new position as Special Commissioner and Chief Protector of Aborigines (Ryan 1990:8; Spencer 1928:xvi). It was not until nearly a month after his arrival, around 11 July 1912, that Spencer began to acquire paintings on bark. He states that he found the paintings ‘so interesting that, after collecting some from their studios, which meant taking down the slabs on which they were drawn, that formed, incidentally, the walls of their Mia-mias [“bark shelters”], I commissioned two or three of the best artists to paint me a series of canvases, or rather “barks”. . .’ (Spencer 1928:793−94). Spencer recorded his visits with extensive field notes that later assisted him to produce Native Tribes of the Northern Territory (1914) and Wanderings in Wild Australia (1928).


Chapter 8

Many of the reasons why artists from this region traded bark paintings have been documented elsewhere (see, in particular, Taylor 1996). One major reason appears to be their desire for Western goods, especially tobacco. The desire for tobacco at this time was unquestionably great; even Spencer says that ‘any child of four or five years and upwards smokes whenever he or she gets the chance’ (Spencer 1928:827). Alongside of this, tobacco became a valuable exchange good within Aboriginal cultural groups and their ceremonial exchange cycles (Jon Altman, 24 August 2003). Another reason for the trading of bark paintings may have been their ability to serve as a unique tool for the Aboriginal artists to explain their culture to ‘outsiders’. As Ronald Berndt (1983:29), an Australian anthropologist, recounts: ‘I was learning about the country and its religious associations as manifested through myth, ritual, and song. On their own initiative, the men who were explaining such matters to me undertook the task of representing what they were telling me in another dimension − by painting on bark’. Particularly in reference to his Kunbarlanja fieldwork, the anthropologist suggests the artists depicted what they were talking about as a way of ‘underlining its veracity’ (Berndt 1983:30). It would seem that education has always been a significant motivation for painting in western Arnhem Land. Importantly, the desires of the bark painting collector were compatible with the Aboriginal artists needs to protect certain knowledge from uninitiated people. Baldwin Spencer’s interest, for example, encouraged the local artists to reach a compromise between the protection of secret knowledge from uninitiated individuals and the need or desire for Western trade items such as tobacco (Taylor 1996:24). The style and subject matter choices they began making in this early period have continued to guide the present-day generation of Kunbarlanja artists and, in turn, may have been responsible for influencing some of the particular ‘styles’ for which western Arnhem Land is today internationally renowned. Taylor’s (1996:20−24) stylistic analysis of the Spencer bark paintings sheds further light on these issues. He found that there is an association of style between the Baldwin Spencer collection of bark paintings and the rock paintings found in the western Arnhem Land region. However, he also found a major difference between the latest phases of rock paintings and the bark paintings that were acquired. He states: ‘X-ray rock paintings have a generally static quality and are not composed of scenes in the same way as the images in Spencer’s bark painting collection’ (Taylor 1996:22). Berndt (1983:33) describes how artists ‘utilized available space on their bark sheets in order to suggest movement rather than pattern’. A number of Spencer’s bark paintings show hunting scenes

Learning Art, Learning Culture


that incorporate active or narrative relationships between the figures in the painting, ‘human or spirit figures chasing, carrying, or spearing, animals infilled with X-ray details’ (Taylor 1996:22). Consequently, Taylor (1996:22) argues that bark paintings from this time period are not always simply copies or continuities of a local rock painting tradition but rather an amalgamation of styles in line with traditional restrictions on public art, as indeed, they are today. For Kunbarlanja artists, it is argued that this type of narrative imagery is considered suitable for non-Indigenous individuals who know little of Aboriginal culture yet require a bark that ‘tells a story’ or has a simple narrative form that the uninitiated can understand (Taylor 1996:24). Spencer is credited with being the first to introduce this requirement to western Arnhem Land, which is ‘. . . now an important contextual feature of barks produced for the art market’ (Taylor 1996:24). At the same time, Taçon and Chippindale (1994) argue that Spencer is given too much credit by many researchers and that, in fact, there is a clear narrative element in much recent rock art in western Arnhem Land. It is impossible to discuss the long and complicated history of art trading in Kunbarlanja in this chapter; however, I have highlighted these important historical events to emphasise the interconnectedness of rock paintings, bark paintings, and paintings on other mediums in the past and in the present. Contemporary artists are inspired by rock paintings, by the art market, and by other influences from within and outside their cultural group. Considered within this cultural and historical setting, it is art today that allows people in Kunbarlanja to create a unique artistic community and to develop their social and cultural identities.

A New Artistic Community In this chapter, I explore how art provides the meeting ground for culture, collectivity, and individual selfhood in a remote Indigenous community in Australia. A focus of this artistic community is Injalak (the local cooperative art centre), which is regularly engaging with nearly 300 artists (see Figure 8.3, May 2005). In the general philosophical sense, as described by Minar and Greer (1969) and Poplin (1979:5), a community is a moral phenomenon and, more specifically, it is a condition in which individuals are enmeshed in a web of ‘meaningful’ relationships with others. But what sorts of people are attracted to this community? As shown in Figure 8.4, the majority of painters in Kunbarlanja today are aged in their 30s and 40s. Nearly all paintings are produced by men. Women in Kunbarlanja produce fibre art and, in terms of individual


Chapter 8

800 600 400 200 Unknown












0 16–20

Number of Artworks

Figure 8.3 Artists working at the Kunbarlanja art centre 2005: Gershom Garlngarr, Graham Badari, Ezariah Kelly, Garry Djorlom, and James Ashley.

Age (years)

Figure 8.4

Total number of artworks by male age group, 2003.

artists, outnumber the male painters. There are many reasons for this phenomenon and for the dominance of the 30−40 age group that cannot be explored in this paper (see May 2006). It is clear from these figures that men of this age group are not just the most visible age group at the art centre; they are also engaging with it in a steadfast way and relying on the income gained in a way

Learning Art, Learning Culture


that others are not. In short, given these statistics, men in their 30s are making and selling art more often and in higher quantities than any other group in Kunbarlanja. The question emerges then, why are men in their 30s choosing to work as artists more than other groups? The historical emergence of Injalak (though not the focus of this chapter) may shed light on this issue. These men were all young (late teens or early 20s) when the art centre was first opened, and today they are generally aged in their 30s. Over the years, some of the original group have moved away from the organisation, using their training in business at the art centre to secure employment at the school, council, or clinic. Whether artists of a similar age to these people were particularly attracted to the art centre is subjective. While there are more individual female artists than male artists selling work to this art centre, I would argue that young men have a more holistic and unwavering relationship with the organisation. While there is a women’s centre, there is no men’s centre in Kunbarlanja. As well as historical attachment to the art centre, the social atmosphere cannot be underestimated as a reason for the continued appearance of so many 30-something men. Indeed, a few male artists of this age are known to be almost permanently at the art centre − sleeping, eating, working, and socialising in the one place. There is no other place in Kunbarlanja for men to gather in such a holistic way. The art centre as a place is important to this group. Whatever roles this art centre fulfils in the lives of this group, it is art that draws them together or makes the community possible. The question of why working as an artist is attractive to these men is complex. First, it is clear that art provides relatively good income from interesting cultural work. It is a way of engaging with culture and making some money. Many of the young male artists are well-educated and could find better-paying employment elsewhere in Kunbarlanja. When asked why they choose painting, they answer that they enjoy it and that they like to earn some money. Morphy (1983:86) has suggested that many individuals in this type of situation turn to art for four main reasons; first, it capitalises on skills already present in the region; second, it requires virtually no capital outlay; third, it enables people to work in their own camp and determine their own work programs; and, finally, it provides a degree of independence and autonomy absent in other occupations. He argues that other jobs offered in settlements such as Kunbarlanja are not attractive to most local Indigenous people: ‘Alternative jobs are usually unskilled or require introduced skills, they require people to work to a European imposed schedule under continuous white supervision and, finally, they require permanent residence at the settlement


Chapter 8

throughout the year’ (Morphy 1983:86). Art offers freedom to set your own timetable and to express creativity while earning a living. In the Kunbarlanja situation, the importance of engaging with ‘culture’ must particularly be acknowledged. It is clear that engaging with their culture through the process of making art is an important element in the type of relationship young men have with the local art centre and their choice to pursue art as a career. Finally, the need for many of these men to keep busy cannot be overlooked. Prior to the opening of Injalak in 1989, these same people came to the local adult education office in Kunbarlanja asking for ‘something to do’. They were (are) usually well-educated men with a desire to be active and employed. Producing art is a means of achieving this with the other aspects of freedom and income discussed above. In summary, men aged in their 30s and 40s engage with the art centre on a level that outweighs any other gender or age group. They use it as a place to congregate, a place to earn a steady, regular income, and they willingly identify as an ‘artist’. This situation is evident in the numbers of works being produced and the money being paid to this age group. Although there are historical reasons for this involvement, there are also important contemporary issues that these men are facing. Throughout this chapter, this group of men will continue to be prominent. In particular, I have hinted that the art centre offers young people an opportunity for engaging with culture and to continue acquiring cultural knowledge, and in the following section I expand this discussion of art and education.

Art and Education An Aboriginal art centre such as Injalak is a place of education in many ways. More specifically, it is a place that facilitates processes of cultural transmission. Most importantly, young men and women come to Injalak because it offers an opportunity to learn the specific skills and knowledge necessary to earn a living from art. Yet, for every school there needs to be a teacher, and for men at Kunbarlanja this teacher is primarily Thompson Yulidjirri (Figure 8.5). In a township that has been suffering from what Mick Dodson (2003) refers to as ‘dysfunctional community syndrome’, it is clear that some of those men (I will discuss the role of women later in this chapter) who might have learned about painting from fathers or uncles have instead missed out on this opportunity. It should also be acknowledged that men (and a small number of women) who perhaps would not have been artists in a different cultural or social context are being trained or teaching themselves today. Major disruptions to

Learning Art, Learning Culture

Figure 8.5


Thompson Yulidjirri 2003.

what might have been considered more usual art training practices have occurred, and young men may either have missed out on particular cultural training for art production or have chosen themselves to pursue this education. An art centre offers access to education and materials, but more importantly it offers access to a group of young people in a similar situation. Thompson Yulidjirri’s importance in giving these young people further cultural ‘legitimacy’ cannot be underestimated. To review briefly, Thompson came to the art centre to paint in the early 1990s and began teaching the young men around him the skills and stories while he worked. Gabriel Maralngurra (12 November 2002), one of the founding members of Injalak, describes the old man (Thompson) coming to ‘have a look around’ and soon after beginning to paint in the grounds of the art centre. But it was not simply his presence that affected the young men and women, it was the fact that he began teaching many of them the stories he was painting, while he was painting them. Most importantly, the men he ‘chose’ to teach were not necessarily any close blood relation to him or his country. Very quickly a group of young men formed around Thompson, the same men who are the primary producing artists at the art centre today. Thompson


Chapter 8

Yulidjirri made a building for art sales into an art school, or, as Jacob Manakgu (20 October 2003) says, ‘it’s a cultural house’. He taught us all, that old man. From when we first opened right up to now, old Thompson was showing us and teaching us. This place owes him a lot. (Isaiah Nagurrgurrba 2002:6)

I suggested in May (2006) that Thompson may have been ‘elected’ by the elders to help keep a close eye on the young men at this ‘new’ art centre with ambitions to paint on bark. To explain further, if you are an Aboriginal artist in western Arnhem Land, what you paint and the way you paint it are regulated by cultural protocols. If you come from a particular clan, you will have the right to paint certain images, such as a long-necked turtle or a file snake, but you will be forbidden from producing paintings of other images, such as an echidna. You will also have stories relating to your land that only your clan members can paint. This is a very simple description of a very complex system of cultural protocols relating to art. In relation to the young Kunbarlanja artists, the increasing market demand for art from this region and the increasing desire on the part of the Kunwinjku to work as artists during the 1980s saw some of these cultural protocols being broken in Kunbarlanja (May 2006). Yet today, they are closely monitored and rarely broken by any of the artists. Thompson must be credited with educating the young artists on these protocols and for helping them adapt the cultural protocols for a modern art market. Importantly, these protocols were taught to Thompson Yulidjirri by the man who raised him: Paddy Namatbara Compass, a famous artist and a rock painter, once again linking past with present − rock art with contemporary visual arts.

The Teacher and Apprentice System As I have already argued, Injalak offers a place for young men to come and learn about culture, and the teacher is/was usually Thompson Yulidjirri. His relationship with one young artist, Joey Nganjmirra, highlights this teacher/apprentice educational role. Joey is a man in his 20s (b. 1979). He is an enthusiastic student who, when Thompson could not make it to the art centre, would walk to the old man’s house to sit and work with him. Often, Thompson would paint the outline of the artworks while telling the story, and Joey would fill in the detailed cross-hatching. Joey’s enthusiasm for learning may have been one of the reasons Thompson chose to teach him. As Taylor (1996:71−72) found: ‘There is nothing particularly formalized about apprenticeship

Learning Art, Learning Culture


relationships; their primary feature is that young people must have the will to learn and be willing to defer to older people to teach them what they do not already know’. Figures 8.6 and 8.7 show paintings produced by Thompson Yulidjirri from July to August 2002. They are interesting, owing to their almost literal depictions of the subjects and their ‘story board’ type layout. At this point, I must discuss Thompson Yulidjirri’s paintings in a little more detail, particularly so we can understand the variations of his students. Thompson is a prolific artist who has little preference for paper size or medium. He usually chooses yellow or red ochre for his backgrounds, which he produces by rubbing the ochre on a stone and adding a little water and glue. For the individual figures, he prefers white, red, and yellow. He rarely use charcoal for painting. He use cross-hatching to infill his figures rather than single lines. Thompson’s paintings bear little resemblance to the rock art of the region; to understand why, one needs to see the senior artist at work − surrounded by young men, explaining the meaning behind the image to those who are listening. For him, the physical painting is simply a gateway to the stories − in an apparently simple depiction of an animal may lie an important story of ancestors, cultural protocols, and land − as also depicted in dance

Figure 8.6

Painting by Thompson Yulidjirri 2003.

Figure 8.7

Painting by Thompson Yulidjirri 2003.


Chapter 8

and song. Thompson Yulidjirri’s actions and artworks may provide a tantalising glimpse into the complex nature of the thousand-year-old rock art we study today as archaeologists. The art that Joey produces is sometimes very similar to Thompson Yulidjrri’s (compare Figure 8.8 with Figure 8.11), and often the stories that he paints were taught to him by Thompson (Figure 8.9 and Figure 8.10). Figure 8.11 depicts the Waralak Men − seen also as a painting by Thompson in Figure 8.8; the style and the subject matter are the same. Yet, Joey has also forged his own style, as seen in Figures 8.12−8.15. Most of the paintings produced by Joey during the period in question involved the depiction of a snake or a serpent − file snakes, rainbow serpents, water snakes, Oenpelli pythons. Overall, Joey’s determination to learn and to be a legitimate artist has been complimented by Thompson’s love of teaching and willingness to share the stories he has acquired over his lifetime. Although there are over twenty more artists in similar situations, Joey and Thompson’s relationship serves as an example of the teacher/apprentice relationship that exists at Injalak. Most of the paintings produced by Joey were done so on no more than an A4-sized sheet of paper. In the next case study, I discuss how small A4-sized sheets of paper are complimenting this educational system.

Figure 8.8 Waralak Men by Thompson Yulidjirri 2003.

Learning Art, Learning Culture

Figure 8.9 Turtle and Echidna Story by Thompson Yulidjirri 2003.

Figure 8.10 Namarrkon Yulidjirri 2003.





Chapter 8

Figure 8.11 Waralak Men by Joey Nganjmirra 2003.

Figure 8.12 Blue Tongue Lizard Story by Joey Nganjmirra 2003.

Learning Art, Learning Culture

Figure 8.13 Ngalyod and Yawk Yawk by Joey Nganjmirra 2003.

Figure 8.14 2003.

Ngalyod, Yawk Yawk, and fish by Joey Nganjmirra



Chapter 8

Figure 8.15 Two brown snakes by Joey Nganjmirra 2003.

The Educational Role of a Small Painting It is common today for Kunbarlanja artists to paint on the artist paper Arches.1 This paper is distributed by the art centre, and, when painted, the paper is sold back to the centre. Most papers handed out are A4-sized. A3-size paper is the minimum size given out to senior artists (Thompson Yulidjirri, Djawida Nadjongorle, Jimmy Galareya Namarnyilk, Bruce Nabegeyo). A4 paper serves the purpose of practice for artists experimenting with a different subject or style and for younger artists who are being trained by more senior men. It allows a large number of people to be regularly painting and to be actively engaging with the art centre on a daily basis − an essential element in an active cooperative with a social function as well as an artistic role. In summary, there are five main points in this discussion of this art centre as a place of cultural education. The first is that the establishment of Injalak in 1989 brought together artists and budding artists from many different clans and quickly emerged as an art school as well as an outlet for established artists to sell their work. This leads to the second point, that education is an essential element and perhaps the most important element at the art centre today. Third, Thompson Yulidjirri must be credited with leading/ causing this adapted educational system at the art centre, and the young/middle-aged men respect him for this. Fourth, art media of all sizes have a role to play at the art centre. The distribution of small paper for painting not only feeds a growing market for such works but also allows many young artists regular experience at painting and daily opportunities to engage with culture while earning a small income.

Learning Art, Learning Culture


Identity through Subject Matter The nature of this artistic community that has emerged in Kunbarlanja is the primary focus of this chapter. The artworks being produced bear witness to the relationships and the artistic community that has formed. In this section, I draw on data relating to the subject matter of the Kunbarlanja paintings to consider whether subject matter can further illuminate the nature of this artistic community. Importantly, subject matter is only one way of considering identity in this region; it could also be considered through technique, place of production, medium, use of space, and more. During 2002 and 2003, I recorded 2,371 paintings after they were sold to the local art centre in Kunbarlanja. Information collected related to the individual paintings and the individual artists (May 2006). To analyse the subject matter for artists who are members of this artistic community I have called on Luke Taylor’s (1996:84−95) four primary categories of subjects for western Arnhem Land painters. Taylor conducted anthropological research in the western Arnhem Land region focusing on bark painting during the 1980s and 1990s. Taylor (1996) identified these categories through bark paintings, but they can also be identified in the rock art of the region. The categories: 1. Major regional ceremonial figures. These figures are considered to be communally owned by Aboriginal groups around western Arnhem Land and include Yingarna (a ‘creation mother’ figure) and Ngalyod (a ‘Rainbow Serpent’ figure). Many of the stories relating to these figures are also known in other areas of northern Australia. 2. Minor regional spirit figures. These are not thought to be creative in the same way as Ancestral Beings (see later description). These figures are found throughout the region and are known by all Aboriginal people. Examples include Mimi, Nakidjkidj, Wayarra, Yawk Yawk, and Namorrorddo. 3. Common food animals. For example, turtles, barramundi, and kangaroos. 4. Ancestral Beings. Taylor (1996:91) explains that, although any artist has the right to paint subjects that are communally owned, the rights to paint certain Ancestral Beings are often restricted. Ancestral Beings usually journeyed less than the major regional ceremonial figures and are often related to particular sites (such as a waterfall) in the land. These sites belong to individual clans, and, therefore, producing such a painting clearly identifies the painter as belonging to that clan and that site.

Although most of the paintings I recorded fall into the preceding categories, it was necessary to add three more categories: 1. Historical or contemporary subjects. This includes paintings of historical figures and animals that are not native to this area. 2. Rock art interpretations. Artistic interpretations of rock art motifs from western Arnhem Land. 3. Common objects. These include depictions of hunting tools and fish traps.


Chapter 8

Paper and bark paintings produced by Kunbarlanja artists have included subject matter relating to all seven categories, with the total number for each category shown in Table 8.1 and, for bark paintings, Table 8.2. Half the paintings produced depict common food animals. Second to this, and far more popular than any other category, are minor regional spirit figures such as Yawk Yawk and Mimi. My discussion in this section, therefore, focuses on the reasons for, and significance of, the dominance of these two categories for Kunbarlanja artists. It is common for artists to paint animals that are a food source for them. These images do not usually relate to sites of significance and are not generally related to particular clan lands, although some clan lands do have, for example, barramundi ‘dreaming’ sites. Mimi and Yawk Yawk spirits or ‘minor spirit figures’ are popular subjects for Kunbarlanja artists. Generally, such spirits are found widely throughout the region and, hence, do not belong to particular sites or even clan estates. Taylor (1996:88) states that these paintings indicate the widest level of sociological identity for the artist in the same way as paintings of the major regional ceremonial figures. Minor spirit figures painted during 2002 were Yawk Yawk, Mimi, Pandanus Spirits, Namorrorddo, Namande (Devil Devil), and Bewk Bewk. Mimi are by far the most dominant figures represented, and they are often represented with common food animals or undertaking activities such as hunting. Mimi are believed to have taught the local Aboriginal people skills such as hunting, cooking, dancing, and more. These activities are often depicted in paintings by Kunbarlanja artists. Table 8.1

Paintings on paper by subject category

Subject Category for Paper Paintings

Total Number

Common food animals or mayh Minor regional spirit figures Ancestral beings or djang Major regional ceremonial figures Common objects Historical or contemporary subjects Rock art interpretation

944 554 160 141 22 11 3

Table 8.2

Bark paintings by subject category

Subject Category for Bark Paintings

Total Number

Common food animals or mayh Minor regional spirit figures Major regional ceremonial figures Ancestral beings or djang

283 209 25 19

Learning Art, Learning Culture


Another important aspect of such paintings that I touched on with Thompson Yulidjirri’s work concerns the multiple levels of information encoded in the artworks. This was an important aspect of Luke Taylor’s research in the region during the 1980s and 1990s, and he summarises the situation for Mimi figures as: A common way of disguising the fact that a painting relates to an inside [secret] story is by saying the characters are ‘just mimih and not djang’. However, another level of consistent narrative can be read from such paintings by those familiar with the stories of ceremony. Mimih stories are freely told to children, yet the correspondence between such outside stories and more inside stories is a means of structuring the transmission of knowledge. (Taylor 1996:89)

There is no reason to believe the situation is different for Kunbarlanja artists who have learned from senior artists such as Thompson Yulidjirri and Bobby Nganjmirra. I do believe, however, that many of the depictions of Mimi on small paper by young artists simply represent Mimi and are not related to a deeper level of knowledge. It is clear that paintings on small sheets of paper rarely depict more than a simple image, such as a single barramundi or Mimi. The artists assert that such a small area would not do justice to a painting that is ‘special’ or, in other words, one that depicts Ancestral Beings or sites of significance. Interestingly, Table 8.3 shows the primary subject category group for small paintings alongside larger paintings. Although the sample size is significantly different (1,835 small, 69 large), this table still gives a general indication that subject matter differs with paper size. Most small paintings depict common food animals, whereas most large paintings depict Ancestral Beings. This information raises some questions in regard to the level of knowledge attained by artists working regularly at the art centre and the access they have to media that will allow them to express their knowledge. Is the Table 8.3 Table illustrating the total number of each subject category for both A4- and Half-Sheet-Size paper and comparing the percentages for each size Subject Category

A4 Percentage

Half-Sheet Percentage

Common food animals Minor regional spirit figures Major regional ceremonial figures Ancestral beings or djang Common objects Historical or contemporary subjects Rock art interpretation

34% 22% 0.03% 0.03% 0.01% 0.003% 0%

30% 15% 19% 32% 0% 0.02% 0.03%


Chapter 8

change in subject matter due simply to the fact that the larger paper is available only to senior artists who possess the rights and knowledge to depict such Ancestral Beings? This is unlikely, given the fact that artists aged between 31 and 40 produced most of the paintings this size. At the art centre, being given a large paper is a sign of respect and achievement as an artist. Artists choose to capitalise on this investment by producing a painting that demonstrates their cultural knowledge, links them to their clan, and advertises their skill as an artist.

Conclusion Within Aboriginal Society the value and meaning of art changes [sic] with each generation: it becomes associated with new people who experience it in different ways and make it part of the world in which they live. (Morphy 1998:221)

This chapter has explored how art has provided a meeting ground for culture, collectivity, and individual self-hood in one remote Indigenous community in Australia. With the establishment of a community art centre in Kunbarlanja, the very nature of being an artist and the idea of artistic education morphed into the dynamic group of individuals who form the artist community today. As a place, the art centre inspires the existence of particular social groupings who, as a whole, make up an artistic community. It is clear that a group of young men have used the community art centre to their own egalitarian ends − to make a modest living and to create a space for sociality and refuge. Importantly, older and more experienced artists have taken a hand in structuring its activity in terms of the cultural principles, and, as such, the art centre is a place of cultural education. This then leads to the facts that (1) rock-art-inspired contemporary art has assisted in the formation of contemporary social and group identities for this group of individuals and (2) today’s visual arts in western Arnhem Land provide clues about the nature of old rock art from this same region. From learning to paint under the guidance of rock artists, to using rock paintings as inspiration and artistically adapting rock painting imagery for a contemporary audience, Kunbarlanja-based artists construct and renegotiate their individual and group identities through the production of their own art and their rock art inheritance. At the same time, this study must also influence our interpretations of rock art from western Arnhem Land. Rock art research is commonly imbued with assumptions relating to subject, motivation, and style. This study has shown that, in this area, the formal features and the subject matter of

Learning Art, Learning Culture


paintings are influenced by one’s teacher, clan, age, individual artistic flair, canvas (area available, nature of the rock and so on), and much more. It has also shown that most paintings are public but that many have hidden levels of meaning that only initiated members of that group can interpret. Finally, today’s western Arnhem Land artists are innovating, adapting, and experimenting, just as their ancestors did when producing rock paintings in this region thousands of years before.

Endnote 1. Bark resources are limited and must be carefully managed in order for the resource to regenerate; thus paper has been introduced to ensure a regular supply of paintings.

References Altman, J. 2003. Email correspondence, 24 August. Jon Altman is Director of the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Australian National University, Canberra. Amit, V., and N. Rapport. 2002. The Trouble with Community: Anthropological Reflections on Movement, Identity and Collectivity. London: Pluto Press. Berndt, R. 1983. ‘A living art: The changing inside and outside contexts’. In P. Loveday and P. Cooke (eds.), Aboriginal Arts and Crafts and the Market, Darwin: The Australian National University North Australia Research Unit, 29−36. Brandl, E. 1973. Australian Aboriginal Paintings in Western and Central Arnhem Land: Temporal Sequences and Elements of Style in Cadell River and Deaf Adder Creek Art. Canberra: Australian Institute Of Aboriginal Studies. Brody, A. 1985. Kunwinjku Bim: Western Arnhem Land Paintings from the Collection of the Aboriginal Arts Board. Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria. Carrington, F. 1890. The Rivers of the Northern Territory of South Australia. Royal Geographic Society of Australasia (S.A. Branch) Proceedings 2, 56−76. Carroll, P. 1983. ‘Aboriginal art from western Arnhem Land’. In P. Loveday and P. Cooke (eds.), Aboriginal Arts and Crafts and the Market. Darwin: The Australian National University North Australia Research Unit, 44−49. Chaloupka, G. 1982. Burrunguy, Nourlangie Rock. Darwin: Northart. ———. 1984. From Palaeoart to Casual Paintings. Darwin: Northern Territory Museums and Art Galleries. ———. 1985. ‘Chronological sequence of Arnhem Land plateau rock art’. In R. Jones (ed.), Archaeological Research in Kakadu National Park. Canberra: Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service, 269−80. ———. 1993. Journey in Time: The World’s Longest Continuing Art Tradition − The 50,000Year Story of the Australian Aboriginal Rock Art of Arnhem Land. Reed Natural History Australia. Chaloupka, G., and P. Giuliani. 2005. ‘Strands of time’. In L. Hamby (ed). Twined Together. Melbourne, Museum Victoria. Cox, J. C. 1878. ‘Drawings by Australian Aborigines’, Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 3(2):155−60. Dodson, M. 2003. Violence Dysfunction Aboriginality, National Press Club Presentation, 11 June, Canberra. Flood, J. 1997. Rock Art of the Dreamtime: Images of Ancient Australia. Pymble, N.S.W.: Angus & Robertson.


Chapter 8

Haley, B. D., L. R. Wilcoxon, M. F. Brown, J. Friedman, R. Handler, J. E. Jackson, J. Kealiinohomoku, K. B. Kelley, A. Linde-Laursen, J. T. O’Meara, A. D. Spiegel, and D. S. Trigger. 1997. ‘Anthropology and the making of Chumash tradition’, Cultural Anthropology 38(5):761. Lewis, D. 1988. The Rock Paintings of Arnhem Land, Australia: Social, Ecological and Material Culture Change in the Post-Glacial Period. Oxford: England, British Archaeological Reports, no. S415. Malinowski, B. 1960 [1944]. A Scientific Theory of Culture and Other Essays. New York: Galaxy Books. Manakgu, J. 2003. Taped personal correspondence. Kunwinjku artist from Kunbarlanja Recording in possession of Sally K. May, Australian National University, Canberra, 20 October. Maralngurra, G. 2002. Personal correspondence, 12 November. Kunwinjku artist from Kunbarlanja. May, S. K. 2005. ‘Injalak arts and crafts: A brief history’. In L. Hamby (ed). Twined Together. Melbourne: Museum Victoria. ———. 2006. Karrikadjurren: Creating Community with an Art Centre in Indigenous Australia. Unpublished PhD Thesis, Australian National University. Minar, D. W., and S. Greer. 1969. The Concept of Community: Readings with Interpretations. Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company. Morphy, H. 1983. ‘Aboriginal fine art: The creation of audiences and the marketing of art’. In P. Loveday and P. Cooke, Aboriginal Arts and Crafts and the Market. Darwin: The Australian National University North Australia Research Unit, 3743. ———. 1998. Aboriginal Art. London: Phaidon. ———. 2005. ‘Aesthetics across time and place: An anthropological perspective on archaeology’. In T. Heyd and J. Clegg, Aesthetics and Rock Art. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 51−60. Nagurrgurrba, I. 2002. In A. Murphy, ‘Feature art centre: Injalak arts and crafts, Oenpelli NT’, The Arts Backbone V.2 (May). Poplin, D. E. 1979. Communities: A Survey of Theories and Methods of Research (2nd ed.). New York: Macmillan Publishing Co. Roberts, R. G; R. Jones, and M. A. Smith. 1993. ‘Optical dating at Deaf Adder Gorge, Northern Territory, indicates human occupation between 53,000 and 60,000 years ago’, Australian Archaeology 37:58−59. Ryan, J. 1990. Spirit in Land: Bark Paintings from Arnhem Land. Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria. Spencer, B. 1914. Native Tribes of the Northern Territory of Australia. London: Macmillan. ———. 1928. Wanderings in Wild Australia. London: Macmillan. Taçon, P. 1989. ‘From the “dreamtime” to the present: The changing role of aboriginal rock paintings in western Arnhem Land, Australia’, The Canadian Journal of Native Studies IX(2):317−39. Taçon, P., and C. Chippindale. 1994. ‘Australia’s ancient warriors: Changing depictions of fighting in the rock art of Arnhem Land, N.T’, Cambridge Archaeological Journal 4(2):211−48. Taçon, P., and S. Davies. 2004. ‘Transitional traditions: “Port Essington” bark-paintings and the European discovery of aboriginal aesthetics’, Australian Aboriginal Studies 2004/2:72−86. Taylor, L. 1996. Seeing the Inside: Bark Painting in Western Arnhem Land. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Worsnop, T. 1897. The Prehistoric Arts, Manufactures, works, weapons, etc., of the Aborigines of Australia. Adelaide: Government Printer. Yulidjirri, T. 2002. Personal correspondence, 12 October. Senior Kunwinjku artist from Kunbarlanja.

CHAPTER 9 Eagle’s Reach: A Focal Point for Past and Present Social Identity within the Northern Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, Australia Paul S. C. Taçon, Matthew Kelleher, Graham King, Wayne Brennan

The key to understanding Australian Aboriginal rock art is identity, relationships, and history. Australia has at least 125,000 rock art sites, more than any other country. These consist of paintings, drawings, stencils, prints, engravings of various sorts, and, in parts of northern Australia, figures made of beeswax pressed onto rock walls and ceilings. Sometimes sites have only one type of rock art, such as pecked or abraded engravings on platforms or boulders, but often in shelters combinations of forms and techniques can be found arranged in overlapping layers and/or spread across great expanses of wall and ceiling. These motifs were made from tens of thousands of years ago on an ongoing basis until at least the 1960s. Since then, sporadic rock art has been made in various locations up to the present day, but much rockart subject matter, iconography, and design continues in new forms on bark, paper, canvas, and even multimedia applications. In each part of Australia, Aboriginal people are proud of their rock art heritage, with particular sites contributing to aspects of both contemporary group and individual identity. Individual identity has long been reflected in Australia’s rock art history through the production of hand, and occasionally foot, stencils. Individual hand stencils are invariably said to express an individual relationship to country: ‘I was here’; ‘this is my country’; ‘this is my mother’s country’; and so forth. Various depictions of animals might reflect totemic relationships to certain species, and associated landscapes, whereas abstract designs similar to those used for ceremonial body art often denote clan affiliation. Aboriginal people are very concerned about relationships: to one another, to other species, to the 195


Chapter 9

land, to the past, and to the Ancestral Beings that made and shaped the world. Rock art attributed to humans, recent or more distant, often is described in these contexts, with particular depictions said to indicate relationships among artists, their families, landscapes, and certain Ancestral Beings. Sometimes Ancestral Beings were illustrated explicitly by Aboriginal people, as they are on bark, paper, or canvas today, but many depictions of fantastic creatures are said to have been made by these Beings themselves. These images are curated, interpreted, and maintained by Aboriginal people according to their social identity, in contrast to less sacred designs that are placed and managed in relation to individual identity. The creation or maintenance of ancestral images is restricted to individuals according to their structurally determined identities. The art created in such contexts is narrowly constrained in terms of style and motif. Subject matter and style emphasize the nature of the artist’s contextualized relationship to a locale. In its reference to appropriately expressed concepts of the ‘Dreaming’ it expresses his/her structurally determined interests in the locale as defined via the legitimacy of the ideational system of social relations. The creation or renovation of such paintings is an act of expressing this classificatory and contextual identity, and of relationship to place via the spiritual power of the ‘law’. This rock art therefore expresses and mediates social relations rather than explicitly territorial affiliation. It is an affirmation of territorial affiliation via social relations as constructed through cosmological principles. The execution of rock markings and of nonsacred designs is generally concurrent with rights of residence that are much more inclusive. In these contexts, individual presence or concern may be celebrated in art, but this art does not evoke rights of control over place or of ritual affiliation to it. It makes reference to the artist’s individual identity, but it does not visually define his/her socially constructed identity (Rosenfeld 1997:296–97). Besides expressing identity through visual and other arts, Aboriginal people have also depicted change and history. Rock art never has been static, and, despite claims of continuity from ancient eras of antiquity to the present, much temporal rock art change can be discerned across Australia. Such change is related to environmental change, in situ innovation, and culture contact: between different Aboriginal groups; with Macassans and other Asians in northern Australia for hundreds if not thousands of years; and with Europeans at different times across Australia in the past 250 or more years. Separating out the various drivers of change from one another and linking them to specific rock art motifs is a challenge but can produce much richer histories (for example, see Taçon et al. 2003). The resulting rock art record thus does

Eagle’s Reach


not express only social and individual identities but also shared histories, with climate change, conflict, introduced animals, and material culture recorded throughout Australia in differing local contexts and iconographies. Many Aboriginal people today draw on this imagery to highlight both changing history and changing identity. Indeed, the discovery of previously unknown or ‘lost’ sites is highly significant for many individuals and communities, in some cases instilling renewed pride, revival of tradition, or contemporary interpretation and relevance for present-day generations (Taçon 2001). Throughout Australia, Aboriginal people are concerned sites not be damaged or destroyed, because so much of their history and both past and present identities are bound up in these galleries. In this chapter, we focus on a recent example of rock art discovery that continues to strengthen contemporary social and individual identity, pride, and interest in the past among various people of Aboriginal descent in southeastern Australia. In the past few decades, there has been much media attention to rock art sites and discoveries in northern Australia, but since 2003 remarkable finds have surfaced west of Sydney, in New South Wales. These have positively affected not only Aboriginal identity among people near where they have been found but also other Aboriginal individuals across the country. We focus, particularly, on Eagle’s Reach, one of the most significant recent discoveries within Wollemi National Park, a major part of the relatively new Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. This focus is important because the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area motifs, totems, and iconography reflect key Aboriginal cultural ceremonies, are of national and international historical importance, and assist with the survival of longstanding traditional knowledge. The European occupation of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Region has greatly devastated Aboriginal culture. Many diseases were introduced through animal and human contact. Wars and massacres affected many Aboriginal peoples during the colonisation period. Traditional Aboriginal foods were killed off and not replenished, causing starvation. After this period, Aboriginal people were forced to live under the protection of the Aboriginal Protection Board. Many Aboriginal people were forced to live on Aboriginal reserves. Aboriginal peoples under the various regimes of Aboriginal protection authorities were forced not to speak and teach Aboriginal language and culture to the children. Over 100,000 Aboriginal children in New South Wales were taken away from Aboriginal families and communities by the Aboriginal Protection Board and later the Aboriginal Welfare Board. Despite the holocaust inflicted on Aboriginal peoples in this region, Aboriginal culture is still alive and well today. The Greater


Chapter 9

Blue Mountains World Heritage Area is of importance to Aboriginal peoples reconnecting with Aboriginal culture, with the rock art discoveries integral to this process.

Blue Mountains Cultural Heritage The Blue Mountains region has been explored by Europeans since the December 1789 expedition of Lt. Dawes, Lt. Johnson, and Mr Lowes of H.M.S. Sirius (Breckell 1993:116; Cunningham 1996), but, until recently, it has only superficially been studied for rock art. This is despite intensive nearby regional studies in the Sydney region (Maynard 1976; McDonald 1991, 1994; McMah 1965), to the southeast (Officer 1992, 1998; Sefton 1988) and in many other parts of Australia. Only a handful of large sites have been recorded in full detail, although site inventories or brief details are available for many in the central, populated part of the Blue Mountains proper (for instance, McCarthy 1946; Sim 1965; Stanbury and Clegg 1990; Stockton 1993). The Wollemi area, in particular, has hardly been studied, partly because of its remote and rugged nature, until our team, consisting of Indigenous community members, archaeologists, bushwalkers, and students, began a program of survey and recording in 2001. In the southern Blue Mountains, a pioneering study by Kelleher (2002) provides a first GIS and multivariate statistical analysis for known Blue Mountains sites south of the Wollemi, as well as preliminary results for relationships between archaeological sites and certain geographic features at five key locations. Indeed, Kelleher found that these five places differentiated themselves from the rest in terms of spatial structure and geography. Kelleher’s PhD (2002) worked toward identifying spatial behavioural variations in the archaeological record of the Blue Mountains. He created a detailed matrix of the southern mountains’ archaeology and geography through which he was able to determine that empirical variations in rock art corresponded with variations in lithic assemblages, grinding groove structure, and geographic features. People were doing different things at specific places in the mountains, which was not solely the result of the changing environment. How people perceived place influenced how they behaved at a place. Kelleher’s research demonstrated that to some degree people’s actions are systematically patterned by their perceptions and that this patterning (if not the meaning of the perception) is often embodied in the archaeological record. Kelleher’s spatial analysis was applied to the southern region as a whole at the artefact level, which indicated statistically significant trends. Variation in rock art across a region is often linked with differentiation in sociocultural units (Wobst 1977), changes in behaviour

Eagle’s Reach


(McDonald 1994, 2000), or geographic features (Bradley 2000). Because Kelleher’s research showed how variations in rock art correspond to specific regional trends for the full range of archaeological features, it is the best model to use to study the rock art of Wollemi National Park. It also is useful because these regional trends can be correlated with linguistic, clan, and other forms of social identity (see also Taçon 1994). In January 2001, our research team, consisting of archaeologists, Aboriginal community members, bushwalkers, and park rangers, began a study that aims to better understand the relationship between Blue Mountains cultural heritage, especially rock art sites (drawings, stencils, paintings, and engravings), and that of other parts of New South Wales and to describe culture change in Wollemi National Park over the past few thousand years. The project involves extensive ongoing community consultation and participation. Besides scientific significance, the results have profound social significance for Aboriginal stakeholders and are of great value to park and World Heritage Area managers, interpretation officers, tourists, and others with an interest in Aboriginal culture, rock art, and the World Heritage Area. In this chapter, we focus on our largest site, Eagle’s Reach. We discuss its relationship to surrounding landscapes and the prominent role it played and continues to play as a marker and place of social identity for various groups of Aboriginal people.

Eagle’s Reach Discovery and Documentation Eagle’s Reach is considered one of the most important pigment-based rock art sites in southeast Australia, but it was discovered, by four bushwalkers, only as recently as October 1995. Our team first recorded the site in detail in May 2003, the rugged terrain making it difficult for anyone to verify the initial find beforehand. This was the first scientific assessment and documentation of the site. It was named Eagle’s Reach at this time, the name reflecting one of the most prominent motifs in English, so that the language of one Aboriginal group associated with the area did not dominate others. Since then we have made several visits to the site, with representatives of a range of local Aboriginal communities and language groups. Eagle’s Reach (Figure 9.1) is located in a rugged part of Wollemi National Park. The exact location and landscape setting details are restricted, in order to protect the site, so they are not included here. The shelter is near a well-forested ridge top, is 12 m long, and has a maximum depth of 6 m. The current ceiling height ranges from about 1 m to just over 2 m. There is a substantial deposit, but in some areas it has been disturbed by wombats. Surface artefacts include a range


Chapter 9

Figure 9.1 Over 200 drawing and stencils in a dozen layers can be found at Eagle’s Reach, with many well-preserved depictions of large animals dominating the central part of the back wall and ceiling.

of raw materials and artefact types including flakes, cores, retouched flakes, and backed artefacts. At Eagle’s Reach, 206 individual motifs were recorded, consisting of 166 drawings, 39 stencils, and 1 painting. One of the special features of the site is the large range of Wollemi animals drawn with great skill and accuracy. There are all sorts of birds, mammals, and reptiles, including goannas, eagles, and a white outline wombat. Rare motifs, such as a double-headed humanlike figure and animal-headed beings with human bodies (Figure 9.2) also feature at the site. These creatures, some with birdlike heads, others with macropodlike heads, may depict Ancestral Beings but certainly reflect spiritual beliefs common to many parts of Australia. However, in the greater Sydney region they are rare in the pigment art, found only at a handful of sites to the east of Eagle’s Reach, in traditional parts of the Darkinjung language group. Importantly, almost half of all drawings at Eagle’s Reach are bird related (birds, composite creatures with bird heads, bird tracks, and so on). Of the 134 identifiable figurative drawings, 80 are bird related (about 60%). This high percentage is unusual for any site in Australia, and there are few areas where birds predominate in rock art from any era. For example, in the engraved rock art of the Keep River region, Northern Territory (Australia), birds account for 22.7% of imagery, but mammals make up 44.3% – and this is one of the highest proportions of birds from any Australian rock art region (Taçon et al. 2003). The contrast is even

Eagle’s Reach


Figure 9.2 Animal-human composite creatures, often with macropod, bird, or flying fox heads, are depictions of powerful Ancestral Beings, according to Aboriginal people across the country. At Eagle’s Reach there are more than at any other site in southeast Australia, most with bird heads but a few with macropod heads.

more extreme in the nearby Blue Mountains National Park, where only 2% of recorded motifs are birds, although bird tracks are a common motif (Kelleher 2002). More usually, macropods, reptiles, or fish are the most frequent subjects of both sites and art bodies. Along with the superb drawings of animals there also are stencils of hands, hand-and-forearms, boomerangs (3), hafted axes (2), and a club. The oldest stencils are in red and a dark yellow, whereas the most recent are white, cream, or, occasionally, bright yellow. The painted design is a grid pattern, similar to others at a few other Wollemi locations to the north and west. By examining the sequence of superimpositions at Eagle’s Reach, in a dozen distinct layers, we determined a detailed sequence. The earliest episode of rock marking that is identifiable consists of red stencils, mostly of hands with forearms, whereas the most recent consists of small yellow outline drawings. Between were many phases of


Chapter 9

stencilling and drawing, and one small episode of painting. The first two episodes were confined to the eastern end of the shelter; most of the rest, except for the painting, made full use of the space. From earliest to most recent the sequence is as follows: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.

Red stencils Deep/dark yellow stencils Charcoal drawing phase 1 Charcoal drawing phase 2 Charcoal drawing phase 3 White stencils Cream stencils, bright yellow stencils Large white drawings and re-outlining of some charcoal drawings Small red drawings Small white drawings and further re-outlining of some charcoal drawings White painting Small yellow drawings

The Eagle’s Reach sequence most closely resembles that of Mangrove Creek shelter art sites to the east (see McDonald 1994:174, 179, 191). McDonald recorded superimpositions at 19 of 65 Mangrove Creek sites. What she calls Phase 2 motifs at those locations include white and red hand stencils. Other Phase 2 motifs at Mangrove Creek, such as wet red infill (solid) and wet red outline-and-infill motifs, are absent from Eagle’s Reach but do appear at Wollemi sites to the west, such as in the Mt. Cameron area. McDonald’s Phase 2 motifs are correlated with the Early Bondaian archaeological period and date between 4,000 and 1,600 years ago. Her Phase 3 rock art was made during the Middle to Late Bondaian period, with motifs dating from about 1,600 years ago to European contact (1994:196). These phases were determined by McDonald by comparing art assemblages from a number of excavated and well dated sites (1994:195). By comparing Eagle’s Reach subject matter in each layer to the Mangrove Creek and other sites to the east studied by McDonald (1994), we can hypothesise the age of various motifs. First, it is suggested that the red and deep yellow Eagle’s Reach stencils are between 2,000 and 4,000 years of age. However, the drawings, white stencils, and the painting were most likely made between 150 and 1,600 years ago, correlating with McDonald’s Mangrove Creek Phase 3. Indeed, the painting, yellow outline drawings, and some of the white stencils may have been made post-European contact. This supposition needs to be supported or refuted with further research and is the subject of a new project commencing in 2007. Other sites we discovered in the vicinity of Eagle’s Reach include open lithic scatters, shelters with lithics, and, in one case, a wooden fire

Eagle’s Reach


stick, axe grinding groove clusters, open engraving sites, and both large and small shelters with pigment art (stencils, drawings, and paintings). Many sites contain components of what is at Eagle’s Reach, as well as other sorts of imagery. A vertical engraving site with 172 designs, most of which are large bird tracks, has a mineral crust lying over some of the art. This revealed a minimum age of 2,000 years using AMS radiocarbon dating (more details can be found in Taçon 2005; Taçon et al. 2003, 2005, 2006, In press). To date, we have located and documented a large complex of sites within the vicinity of Eagle’s Reach, a second complex to the immediate south, and a third to the west, on the other side of the Wollemi. These and other clusters of sites are linked by ridge tops and creek lines, with a few intervening rock art sites in between. In late 2006, a major engraved platform was found a few kilometres from Eagle’s Reach. It has many depictions of Ancestral Beings and totemic animals, including a large eagle and an outline wombat, just as in the Eagle’s Reach shelter. In terms of sheer number of motifs, Eagle’s Reach is the ninth largest of over 5,000 known sites from the greater Sydney Basin – Blue Mountains Area, with all the rest in Darkinjung language localities. But many of these sites consist primarily of stencils. For instance, at Yengo-1, 418 of the 505 motifs are stencils, and 37 are engravings. In terms of numbers of drawings, Eagle’s Reach ranks fourth, with only Swintons, Upside Down Man, and what’s known only as site 45-2-0189 having more. If we compare Eagle’s Reach to outstanding sites elsewhere – in terms of preservation, number of motifs, number of image layers, range of subject matter, nature of subject matter, contemporary Indigenous significance – it stands out as particularly unusual. For instance, using these criteria we can compare it to the best sites of most small regions (such as the Keep River Region, NT; Uluru, NT; Riversleigh-Boodjamulla [Lawn Hill], Queensland; and any part of Victoria, Tasmania, and South Australia). It also is comparable to some of the better sites of Cape York (Qld), western Arnhem Land-Kakadu (NT), and the Kimberley (WA), although these large and dense rock art ‘provinces’ have many such shelter sites. Of course, the Eagle’s Reach subject matter is very different from that found at northern sites, reflecting the local Wollemi environment and local cultural concerns. But sites such as Eagle’s Reach are extremely rare in southeast Australia, so when they are found they can have a great impact on local Aboriginal communities. Given the many layers of imagery at Eagle’s Reach, we believe that it was likely important for many generations of Aboriginal people to visit and mark this incredible terrain with symbols of group and individual identity, with individual hand stencils mixed with depictions


Chapter 9

of Ancestral Beings, totemic animals, and abstract designs. Although the rock art resembles that produced by Darkinjung language people at other sites more than that of other groups, it appears that Wiradjuri and Darug language people also visited and made stencils if not drawings at the site. This is because some motifs are very similar to those found at Wiradjuri language sites to the west, on the other side of the Wollemi. As well, particular types of hand stencils associated with Darug language sites to the southeast, such as those with a crooked little finger, are also found. Indeed, the site is located near the boundary or junction of the traditional territory of these three groups. The site may have been an important stop for those journeying across the Wollemi; it may have been a meeting place, and it likely had many spiritual associations, given the large number of depictions of Ancestral Beings. Each time a group visited, stories were likely told, and sometimes more images would have been added. Unfortunately, we will never know the details of the site’s use or the wonderful stories that must have been told about it. However, because of the stone artefacts and hand stencils of all sizes, including those of children, it appears the site was not restricted to men, women, or knowledgeable elders. Instead, it is likely that family groups camped briefly at Eagle’s Reach, sometimes leaving new rock art behind in the process. Our research has shown that Eagle’s Reach is not an isolated location but rather an integral part of a network of dozens of sites. Darug, Darkinjung, Wiradjuri, and other Aboriginal language groups agree that it has long been a focal point within the landscape. For them, it is interpreted as a teaching site associated with the Eagle Ancestor (Figure 9.3) shared by many groups of people speaking various languages. Today, it is considered one of the most important sites of the region that reflects many aspects of southeastern Australian Aboriginal identity, a key Eagle Ancestor site but also a place with depictions about ceremony, totemic relationships, other Ancestral Beings, oral history, local ecology, social relationships, and individual experience.

The Deeper Significance of Blue Mountains Rock Art from an Indigenous Perspective From the view of Wiradjuri language peoples, the traditional Aboriginal rock art, particularly in the western and northern sections of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, illustrates knowledge about the Burbung ceremony, one of the most important initiations for all the Aboriginal groups of the region. It also indicates spiritual knowledge about Aboriginal kinship systems through the totems, iconography, and motifs that have been found.

Eagle’s Reach


Figure 9.3 The main eagle at Eagle’s Reach has been depicted as if holding a boomerang and hafted stone axe. This image was initially drawn in black charcoal. Later, the stencilled artefacts were added. Subsequently, it was remarked in charcoal before a white outline was drawn around its body and eyes. The result is a powerful image that was retouched by many generations.


Chapter 9

Aboriginal culture is alive and well in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. Today, the largest Aboriginal communities in Australia live in the cities and towns surrounding this region. The number of Aboriginal people is estimated at 25,000 in the Mount Druitt and Campbelltown area (just east of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area). The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area caters for much of the spiritual and cultural healing for these large communities, with thousands of Aboriginal people from the inner city of Sydney connecting with it. As well, most Aboriginal peoples living in the regions surrounding the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area have cultural connections to the Aboriginal language nations and peoples belonging to this region. Often they come together for ceremony. Aboriginal ceremony has been practised continually in this region since time immemorial, with the oldest indications to the immediate west at Lake Mungo, NSW, where cremated burials and burials with red ochre have been dated to at least 43,000 years ago (Bowler et al. 2003; Thorne 1971; Thorne et al. 1999). The two main Aboriginal ceremonies of the region are the Bunan and the Burbung and are two distinct classes of cultural heritage related to natural environmental heritage. Aboriginal people associated with the Burbung ceremony include the Wiradjuri, Wonarua, Kamilaroi, and Darkinjung language groups, all of whom have very close cultural connections to the Darug. The Darkinjung and Wiradjuri Burbung ceremony was watched and recorded by early settlers at Wallerawang and in the Wollemi section of the World Heritage Area (for example, see Mathews 1897, 1898). At these ceremonies were participants from a range of neighbouring groups. As summarised here by one of us (Graham King), the Burbung began with Byamee (The All Father) who, with his wife, who has emu totem, created all the Aboriginal people. They both came down from the Creator Beings. Through the ancient Aboriginal peoples and Byamee, all the landscapes were formed through the process of naming the world. It is believed by Aboriginal peoples that by the naming of landforms and creatures, those creatures and landforms come into being. The Great Creator brought law to all Aboriginal peoples by tying them to the Marrathalbung (the ‘Dreaming’, or all that is) through the Burbung ceremony. In other words, ceremony tied the people to Byamee, law, and land. The Burbung is an Aboriginal men’s initiation ceremony, in which young men go through the law of Byamee. In many parts of the ceremony sequence, Aboriginal women must be and are involved. Fire, water, earth, and wind are important elements in the ceremony and are symbolised in many parts of the Burbung. Aboriginal kinship relations are reflected in the performance of the Burbung and are accentuated for the participants of the ceremony.

Eagle’s Reach


Large events such as the Burbung involve the Aboriginal smoking ceremony, which is still practised by Aboriginal communities today. Gum leaves, and leaves from other native species of the country around where the ceremony is taking place, are placed around a sacred fire today in two groups of four, toward the directions of the four winds or in a circle. People are then smoked into the land. Before the smoking ceremony Aboriginal law business takes place where all concerns of all participants are expressed. People introduce themselves to all the Aboriginal communities participating in the sacred fire and water ceremonies. Actions are decided on by each Aboriginal community involved in the ceremony. After all business concerns are decided, leaves are placed on the sacred fire for smoking of all the participants. Every community is in unity with the others through the ceremony, just as in the Burbung itself. During the Burbung, magic feats are performed by the clever men (spiritual leaders, or ‘Men of High Degree’), encouraging positive energy among the participants. The totems play an important part in the sacred fire and water ceremonies of these Aboriginal communities. Each community aligns with the directions of their totem and country around the sacred fire. Food is the most important aspect of the ceremony where personal totems are observed. In the Burbung, Aboriginal people are smoked so they can hunt meat (tjinga), such as grey kangaroo and emu. They are smoked into the totemic group to which they belong, such as the eagle totem, dingo totem, kangaroo totem, snake totem, goanna totem, lyrebird, skink, and gecko. Rock art found in pristine shelters, such as Eagle’s Reach, may reflect totemic identity and relationship, either indicating which totemic groups visited the site or which participated in nearby ceremony. As well, the rock art imagery can be used as a guide to show how Aboriginal people should perform the sacred fire and water ceremonies today. The rock art in Wollemi National Park also is consistent with how Aboriginal people enact the sacred fire and water ceremonies today. For instance, the direction of the main Eagle motif at Eagle’s Reach and the one seen at Aboriginal ceremonies today is the same; at the site and in ceremony the Eagle faces west. Places such as Eagle’s Reach, and other sites such as Dingo’s Lair and Emu Cave in Wollemi National Park, are providing high degrees of cultural heritage information. This information is vital to the survival of Aboriginal ceremony and culture in New South Wales. The images in the Eagle’s Reach shelter illustrate most of the totem kinship archetypes who attend the Burbung of the Wiradjuri, Darkinjung, and other language nations. Images of totems, iconography, and motifs of the Bunan ceremony are preserved in rock art shelters as well, especially south of the Wollemi.


Chapter 9

Natural landforms and natural heritage also form a major part of Aboriginal cultural heritage in the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. The Three Sisters site in Katoomba is the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area’s best-known Aboriginal cultural site. It consists of seven ironstone pillars; three are large and are the older sisters, and four smaller pillars are the younger ones. There are many Aboriginal stories for this site, such as the Three Sisters story and the Seven Sisters story. These two stories are related in many ways, and they show how all Aboriginal peoples are related to the land, the sky world, and all other peoples of the earth. Among contemporary Greater Blue Mountains Aboriginal people, all peoples of the earth are related through the Seven Sisters, who are of the Pleiades, and their suitor, who is of Venus and the seven honourable brothers from the belt of Orion. The Eagle and the Emu stories encompass the Seven Sisters story, showing the creation of all the birds and their special relationship to the creator. The sites ‘Emu’ and ‘Eagle’ occur as two natural rock forms. There are the Lyrebird and Creator sites, with more Eagle stories at places such as Blackheath and Leura. There are Emu and Lyrebird sites where there is metamorphosis of lyrebird totem people to emu totem people, changing from having small feet to big feet and, because of this, having more family and community responsibility and influence. Byamee rock forms, Eagle rock forms, and rock forms of Byamee’s wife are found throughout the World Heritage Area. Another Ancestral Being, Gurangatch, created the Megalong valley, one of the largest valleys in the country. Goanna Beings and Rainbow Serpents created major water features such as the Walgan and Colo rivers in Wollemi National Park. Many aspects of this creation are reflected in the rock art sites, reenacted in ceremony and passed down to younger people through story, song, and dance. Archaeological and anthropological research is both reaffirming and strengthening these Aboriginal cultural connections and identity for contemporary Aboriginal people.

The Recent Impact of Eagle’s Reach on Social Identity Eagle’s Reach and the larger rock art project have seen much media interest since being announced in NSW State Parliament by Premier Bob Carr in July 2003 (NSW Legislative Assembly Hansard 2003:2446), with hundreds of newspaper, magazine, television, radio, and other stories. It is estimated that over eight million Australians heard about the Wollemi research, and there were reports in major publications across North America (including in Science), Europe, and Asia, as well as parts of South America and Africa. At the instigation of the Aboriginal community, and because of the widespread interest in Wollemi discoveries,

Eagle’s Reach


two films were produced: Rediscovering Aboriginal Wollemi in 2004 and Journey to the Land of the Eagle in 2005. Rediscovering Aboriginal Wollemi is a general film about the project, made to introduce people to the research and its importance to Aboriginal community members; Journey to the Land of the Eagle focuses on a particular field trip undertaken in April 2005. A team of 19 flew into remote parts of eastern and central Wollemi National Park by helicopter. Seven team members surveyed a ridge line some distance to the south of the Eagle’s Reach area, previously not investigated for cultural heritage. The rest of the team worked in the Eagle’s Reach area. Five were Greater Blue Mountains Aboriginal community members visiting the art sites for the first time. They were taken to a number of key sites, including Eagle’s Reach itself. Smoking and body-painting ceremonies (Figure 9.4) were performed each day, the first to be held in this part of Australia for perhaps 200 years. At one location, an extraordinary engraving was found that may be one of the oldest surviving rock art images in the entire Blue Mountains World Heritage Area (Taçon et al. 2006). It is a fully pecked bird and was seen by the Aboriginal participants to be a positive omen for the success of the project, because this form of rock art is both rare and old (thousands of years), providing a connection to the deep past as well as areas of central and northern Australia, where this form of rock art is more common. Indeed, this figure in many ways expresses the contemporary Aboriginal idea that the Eagle’s Reach area has long been a shared landscape where people would travel to and sometimes meet in order to reinforce identity by reconnecting with both past and place. In March 2006, Journey to the Land of the Eagle featured alongside a rock art exhibition as part of the Blue Mountains Songlines Festival. This exhibition, which included contemporary local Aboriginal artwork inspired by the rock art as well as quotes about the significance of the discoveries, was put together to both express and reaffirm local Aboriginal identity and pride in cultural heritage. It brought both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people together, receiving over 900 indigenous and non-indigenous visitors. A common comment from Aboriginal visitors was that the research and rediscoveries were helping create a renewed shared Aboriginal connection to land and regional identity across the region by bringing Aboriginal peoples together to explore a common past. The research is also bringing people together across the country. Our discussions with Aboriginal people throughout Australia suggest news of Eagle’s Reach has travelled widely, with many concluding that it is the most important Eagle Ancestor site in New South Wales. Ash from our April 2005 campfire was collected by some of the

Figure 9.4 Graham King being smoked by Brett Allen near Eagle’s Reach and just before a large actual eagle paid us a visit.

Eagle’s Reach


Aboriginal participants and now lies in the Canberra (ACT) Aboriginal tent embassy campfire, and at other protest sites in southeast Australia. Ash from the Eagle’s Reach expedition fireplace has also travelled to Lake Mungo, western New South Wales, central Australia, and the Kimberley of northern Western Australia. In some cases, it was traded for rare ochre from far-away places. In this way, Aboriginal people outside the region can express a connection to and some identity with the Eagle’s Reach site. The discovery of Eagle’s Reach excited Aboriginal people in many parts of Australia, especially the country’s southeast. For instance, at organisations such as ATSIC, which were under government attack and subsequently abolished, news of Eagle’s Reach lifted Aboriginal people’s spirits. Today, Eagle’s Reach continues to have widespread influence – for instance, by featuring in various school curricula designed for Aboriginal students and more generally. Bringing people together and strengthening local Aboriginal identity has always been at the heart of the Wollemi research program, and this focus continues in new and unexpected ways. For instance, the community itself has recently started a program of taking Aboriginal people of the region to Wollemi sites in order that they may reconnect to land, heritage, and traditional culture, reaffirming and enhancing identity in the process. This is done as part of the rock art research program, with an all-Aboriginal team traversing Wollemi National Park in April 2006, locating and recording rock art sites as they went. Debates and discussions about how best to manage and connect with cultural heritage sites ensued, especially in regard to producing new rock art, such as individual hand stencils. Some individuals desired to leave hand stencils behind at unmarked locations to make individual identity connections, while others suggested such marks should be left only in sanctioned ceremonial contexts. In this regard, debate within the community continues, but, importantly, it is finally taking place. Aboriginal identity is also being strengthened by a related research program. Mapping Country, run by Blue Mountains Aboriginal Community member Shaun Hooper. It seeks to map the entire Blue Mountains World Heritage from an Aboriginal cultural point of view, rather than an introduced European bureaucratic perspective, in order to jointly manage cultural heritage with government. Besides rock art, oral history, site/landscape names, song, and so forth are being recorded.

Conclusion Aboriginal identity has been severely challenged in southeastern Australia during the more than 200 years of European occupation of traditional lands. Many non-Aboriginal people believe Aboriginal culture


Chapter 9

and identity have all but disappeared, but this is a misnomer. Many aspects of traditional culture, including ceremony, kinship, song, visual art, and oral history, continue in various ways. Our work on the rock art heritage of Wollemi National Park and other parts of the Greater Blue Mountains has seen keen interest among Aboriginal communities of the region and beyond. Aboriginal people participate in research and by becoming directly involved gain a deeper connection to the past as well as a strengthened identity in the present. The most important site we have documented and brought to the attention of the outside world, Eagle’s Reach, has become both a focal point and a rallying site for Aboriginal people in terms of contemporary pride in their cultural heritage. It is considered one of the most significant sites for all Aboriginal people of the region, a place their ancestors visited to share important knowledge as well as the place most strongly associated with the Eagle Ancestor. In the future, as new sites are uncovered and described, there will be further positive benefits to the Aboriginal people of the region. Above all else, Aboriginal people are extremely proud of their heritage, and the rock art sites emerging from the rugged and wild Wollemi landscapes confirm not only a long-lasting Aboriginal presence but also an Aboriginal identity for the land itself.

Acknowledgments We especially would like to thank the Greater Blue Mountains Aboriginal Community for support and participation in this research. We are extremely grateful to the many individuals of Darug, Darkinjung, Wiradjuri, and Woonarua language descent who assisted both in and out of the field, in particular Shaun Hooper, Dave Pross, and Evan ‘Yanna Muru’ Gallard, who have been involved in many aspects of the project from its inception. Shaun Hooper also runs the related Mapping Country project and provides base support for extended field expeditions. Dave Pross (Sites Officer, Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council) is exploring links between coastal Darkinjung rock art sites and inland sites, including some in Wollemi National Park. Brett Allen, Steve Brerrinton, Dawn Bügler, Jodi Cameron, Wendy Lewis, Warrick Peckham, Chris Tobin, Pamela Young, and others are also thanked for help in and out of the field. Many students, members of the bushwalking community, NPWS/DEC personnel, and academics are also thanked for survey and recording assistance in the field, particularly Leanne Brass, Ian Brown, Peter Butler, Peter Christmas, Peter Cuming, Richard Delaney, Jill Ford, Mitch Hunan, Carol Issacs, Phil Issacs, Michael Jackson, John James, Sophie Jensen, Wynn Jones, Dionne Kankindji, Margrit Koetig, Barry Lewis, Andy Macqueen,

Eagle’s Reach


Kim McKenzie, Tristham Miller, Amulya Nagaraj, Alison Nightingale, June Ross, Chel Roxburg, Neil Stone, Jacquie Ward, and Meredith Wilson. James Woodford (Sydney Morning Herald) is thanked for his enthusiastic promotion of our research. Geoff Luscombe and Fiona Mandelc are thanked for assistance with permits and other aspects of working within the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. John Merson, Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute, has been inspirational, giving us many opportunities to extend our reach. Our research was initially supported by Australian Museum Research Centre grants. In May 2004, we received a grant from the National Geographic Society. Some funding was provided in 2006 by the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute and Hardie Holdings (Sydney). We thank all these organisations for believing in this project and especially Duncan Hardie, whose support has allowed us to continue our research in 2007–2008. The Australian Museum, Griffith University, the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute, the NSW Department of Environment and Conservation, and the University of New England are thanked for various forms of logistical and technical support.

References Bowler, J. M., H. Johnston, J. M. Olley, J. R. Prescott, R. G. Roberts, W. Shawcross, and N. A. Spooner. 2003. ‘New ages for human occupation and climatic change at Lake Mungo, Australia’, Nature 421:837–40. Bradley, R. 2000. An Archaeology of Natural Places. London: Routledge. Breckell, M. 1993. ‘Shades of grey: Early contact in the Blue Mountains’. In E. D. Stockton (ed.), Blue Mountains Dreaming: The Aboriginal Heritage. Winmalee: Three Sisters Productions, 114–21. Cunningham, C. 1996. The Blue Mountains Rediscovered: Beyond the Myths of Early Australian Exploration. Sydney: Kangaroo Press. Kelleher, M. 2002. Archaeology of Sacred Space: The Spatial Nature of Religious Behaviour. Unpublished PhD thesis, Sydney, University of Sydney. Mathews, R. H. 1897. ‘The Burbung of the Darkinung tribe’, Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria 10:1–12. ———. 1898. ‘Initiation ceremonies of Australian tribes’, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 38:54–73. Maynard, L. 1976. An Archaeological Approach to the Study of Australian Rock Art. Unpublished MA thesis, Sydney, University of Sydney. McCarthy, F. D. 1946. ‘Records of rock engravings of the Sydney District, Nos. 21–32’, Mankind 3(8):217–25. McDonald, J. 1991. ‘Archaeology and art in the Sydney Region: Context and theory in the analysis of a dual medium style’. In P. Bahn and A. Rosenfeld (eds.), Rock Art and Prehistory: Papers Presented to Symposium G of the AURA Congress, Darwin 1988. Oxford: Oxbow Monograph 10, 78–85. ———. 1994. Dreamtime Superhighway: An Analysis of Sydney Basin Rock Art and Prehistoric Information Exchange. Unpublished PhD thesis, Canberra, Australian National University. ———. 2000. ‘Media and social context: Influences on stylistic communication networks in prehistoric Sydney’, Australian Archaeology 51:54–63.


Chapter 9

McMah, L. 1965. A Quantitative Analysis of the Aboriginal Rock Carvings in the District of Sydney and the Hawkesbury River. Unpublished BA (Hons) thesis, Sydney, University of Sydney. NSW Legislative Assembly Hansard. 2003. ‘Wollemi National Park Aboriginal art preservation’, Article No. 15 of 01/07/2003:2446. Officer, K. L. C. 1992. ‘The edge of the sandstone: Style boundaries and islands in southeastern New South Wales’. In J. McDonald and I. P. Haskovec (eds.), State of the Art: Regional Rock Art Studies in Australia and Melanesia, Occasional AURA Publication No. 6. Melbourne: Archaeological Publications, 6–14. ———. 1998. Style and Graphic: An Archaeological Model for the Analysis of Rock Art. Unpublished PhD thesis, Canberra, Australian National University. Rosenfeld, A. 1997. ‘Archaeological signatures of the social context of rock art production’. In M. Conkey, O. Soffer, D. Stratmann, and N. G. Jablonski (eds.), Beyond Art: Pleistocene Image and Symbol, Memoirs of the California Academy of Sciences 23:289–300. Sefton, C. 1988. Site and Artefact Patterns on the Woronora Plateau. Unpublished MA thesis, Sydney, University of Sydney. Sim, I. M. 1965. Report on Engravings in Sydney District. Unpublished and prepared for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, Canberra. Stanbury, P., and Clegg, J. 1990. A Field Guide to Aboriginal Rock Engravings with Special Reference to Those around Sydney. Sydney: Sydney University Press. Stockton, E. D. 1993. ‘Aboriginal art in the Blue Mountains’. In E. D. Stockton (ed.), Blue Mountains Dreaming: The Aboriginal Heritage. Winmalee: Three Sisters Productions, 63–79. Taçon, P. S. C. 1994. ‘Socialising landscapes: The long-term implications of signs, symbols and marks on the land’, Archaeology in Oceania 29(3):117–29. ———. 2001. ‘Australia’. In D. Whitley (ed.), Handbook of Rock Art Research. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 530–75. ———. 2005. ‘The world of ancient ancestors: Australian Aboriginal caves and other realms within rock’, Expedition 47(3):37–42. Taçon, P. S. C., K. Mulvaney, S. Ouzman, R. Fullagar, P. Carlton, and L. Head. 2003. ‘Changing ecological concerns in the rock-art subject matter of north Australia’s Keep River Region’, Before Farming 2003/3 (4):1–14 (www.waspjournals. com/journal_20033/). Taçon, P. S. C., M. Kelleher, W. Brennan, S. Hooper, and D. Pross. 2006. ‘Wollemi petroglyphs, NSW, Australia: An unusual assemblage with rare motifs’, Rock Art Research 23(2):227–38. Taçon, P. S. C., W. Brennan, S. Hooper, D. Pross, and E. Gallard. 2003. The Landscape of Blue Mountains Rock Art: Wollemi Phase 1 Results. Unpublished report, People and Place Research Centre, Australian Museum, Sydney. Taçon, P. S. C., W. Brennan, S. Hooper, M. Kelleher, and D. Pross. 2005. ‘Greater Wollemi: A new Australian rock art area bordering Sydney’, International Organisation of Rock Art (INORA) Newsletter 43:1–6. ———. In press. ‘Differential cave and rock-shelter use in the Pleistocene and Holocene’. In H. Moyes (ed.), Journeys into the Dark Zone. Denver: University of Colorado Press. Thorne, A. 1971. ‘Mungo and Kow Swamp: Morphological variation in Pleistocene Australians’, Mankind 8:85–89. Thorne, A., R. Grün, G. Mortimer, N. Spooner, J. Simpson, M. McCulloch, L. Taylor, and D. Curnoe. 1999. ‘Australia’s oldest human remains: Age of the Lake Mungo 3 skeleton’, Journal of Human Evolution 36(6):591–612. Wobst, M. 1977. ‘Stylistic behavior and information exchange’. In C. Cleland (ed.), Research Essays in Honour of James B. Griffin. University of Michigan Museum of Anthropology, Anthropological Papers No. 61, Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press.

CHAPTER 10 Panache and Protocol in Australian Aboriginal Art Claire Smith

Perhaps the archaeological breakthrough in terms of conceptualizing style as social strategy emerged from the extended debate on style between Wiessner (1983, 1984, 1985, 1990) and Sackett (1977, 1982, 1990). Whereas Sackett’s (1977) early papers argue strongly for a ‘passive’ component in stylistic variation, which she called isochrestic variation (which occurs when choices are made among options that are fundamentally equivalent), his revised position (Sackett 1990:37) recognizes the existence of both active and passive style. During this debate, Wiessner developed Wobst’s (1977) notion of style as a means of communicating identity, to identify a behavioural basis for style in the fundamental human cognitive process of personal and social identification through comparison. As Gamble (1991:3) points out, a consequence of this notion is that style must be an active tool in the negotiation of social strategy. It follows that any explanation of stylistic variation in relation to social strategy must necessarily focus on style as practiced within the constraints of particular situations. Indeed, Conkey (1990:15) suggests that there need be no necessary correlation between style and social entity – and that a view of material culture as an active, constitutive element of social practice implies that style may be more about the contexts in which group or other socialcultural phenomena are mobilised as process, rather than about group per se. Macdonald (1990:52) also addresses this question: If it is granted that all human behavior is culturally and socially mediated, an immediate emphasis is placed on the social circumstances that tend to produce observable variation in that behavior. That is, social context defines the limits and modal constraints on the appropriateness of social behaviors; human social behavior is situational and context dependent. Since patterns of social behavior vary among particular situations, then it follows that style will also vary among social situations. The problem is to specify models of style that are appropriate to particular social contexts. 215


Chapter 10

Macdonald proposes a model of style that is based on a distinction between panache, which is the stylistic expression of separateness by the individual, and protocol, which is the stylistic expression of group identity and membership.1 Considered in tandem with the notion that style is used in the pursuit of social ends, it follows that this tension between individuality and group membership should manifest in the physical characteristics of style. Certainly, the notion of style as social strategy links easily to concepts of both group and individual social identity, since individuals are likely to have strategies in common as well as specific aspirations. The following discussion examines this dichotomy in terms of the relationships between style and social strategy as manifested in art of an Aboriginal community located in the Barunga region of the Northern Territory, Australia (Figure 10.1). Aboriginal people from this region produce a wide range of art objects, including paintings and carvings, baskets and mats, as well as occasional rock paintings (though the last type is now rare). From a Western viewpoint, some of these

Barunga Wugullar



1000 km

Figure 10.1 Barunga region, Northern Territory, Australia.

Panache and Protocol in Australian Aboriginal Art


objects might be included under the general rubric of ‘craft’. However, Aboriginal people do not make a distinction between art and craft: They see paintings and weavings as broadly equivalent, although produced in different contexts, or by different people. Their principle concern is with the manner in which the production of such objects articulates with their cultural beliefs and laws. To Barunga people, aesthetic value is judged on how correctly the artist represents the dictates and stories of the ancestors, or on the status of the producer in terms of their knowledge of traditional law, rather than on the aesthetic characteristics that inform Western notions of ‘art’. Designs are believed to have their genesis in the actions of ancestral beings, and it is this that endows them with power: Through the reproduction of these designs in paintings, the artist not only makes contact with the ancestral past but also nourishes that past. Thus, it is no coincidence that most senior artists also have major roles in ceremonies and that those whose work is most respected by other Aboriginal people are important ritual leaders, the recognised custodians of ancestral knowledge. Aboriginal people learn their art as young adults and are generally taught by close relatives, as indicated in the following quotation by Billy Lukanawi,2 a senior male artist: My father and my uncle they show me painting, why I’m not drawing other one. I got to draw that same one, that same drawing. Kangaroo, turtle, crocodile, rainbow [serpent], quiet snake, file snake. I got to draw same way my father, my uncle. I got to follow them same way. I got to do red, yellow, and white. I got to put them same way [as they used to do]. My father and uncle, my mother, and my grandpa. They used to do same way.

Thus, the philosophy is inherently conservative, one that looks toward the ancestral past (which also, in some sense, exists in the present) for direction and validation. Accordingly, it should be apparent that Western conceptualisations of art in terms of aesthetic value are not congruent with those that exist within remote Aboriginal communities. Aboriginal people from these regions view art primarily as a system of signification/communication, with the value of the work tied to the social position of the artist and the manner in which they fulfill their ancestrally designated obligations. This approach to art highlights its production within socially and historically produced codes and conventions – that is, its inherently situated nature. The central issue that arises for the researcher into style as social strategy is how to identify the ways in which style is used to achieve particular social ends. The principle question becomes ‘why that style in that context?’ (cf Conkey 1990:15). Classic semiotic theory does not provide an adequate method for assessing this question, since it is


Chapter 10

generally interpreted as viewing style primarily as an instrument of social communication, rather than as an active agent in the construction of social knowledge (see Coward and Ellis 1977:21; Sperber 1976: xii). Certainly, a problem with classic semiological and structural theories is that they fail to adequately account for the human capacity to transform or reproduce structure in the (conscious or unconscious) pursuit of (long-term or short-term) social strategies. These general difficulties are addressed by practice theory, as put forward by Bourdieu (1968, 1977) and Giddens (1977), but this is not without valid criticisms. The most telling of these relate to the emphasis it places on the determining capacity of social action and its failure to provide an adequate concept of culture. Morphy (1995) criticises practice theory as espoused by Bourdieu and Giddens on the grounds that it appears to allocate a determining status to the level of reality represented by action in the context of historically based social relations. He argues persuasively that the duality of structure must involve equally the constitution of the individual through cultural and social process and the role of individual action in the transformation and transmission of sociocultural systems (Morphy 1995:187). Ortner (1984:150) expresses a related concern, that the desire of practice theorists to emphasise intentionality within social action and/or a growing interest in change as against reproduction may undervalue the degree to which actors do simply enact norms because ‘that was the way of our ancestors’. Certainly, aspects of a normative view have endured within archaeology, especially in terms of acculturation and enculturation (Conkey 1989:121; DeBoer 1990), and it would be premature to put this view aside entirely. The problem that arises in terms of the analysis of style is how to reformulate classical semiotic theory so that it is informed by a praxisoriented perspective, as envisaged by Bourdieu and Giddens, that addresses the weaknesses of practice theory, and then how to focus this reconceptualisation on visual arts. This problem then needs a theoretical framework that integrates style, semiotics, and social strategy. In establishing an integrated framework, one has to consider the question of how visual systems of signification actually operate within a social system that encompasses both structure and social action. This necessitates a general concept of culture and society in order to provide a content to the structuration processes. The programme then becomes examination of the modes whereby a sociocultural system, as constituted through visual arts, is both produced and reproduced in social interaction that is both constrained and enabled by preexisting structures. I use the term sociocultural system advisedly, since I take the position that culture and society are entities that do not

Panache and Protocol in Australian Aboriginal Art


exist independently of each other and that they are bound together systematically and, in some sense, cohesively in that there are structured linkages between the two. While the creation of art both produces and reproduces facets of a culture, this process firmly occurs within the constraints and the capacities of the society as a whole. Morphy (1995) argues that culture and society are best conceptualised as relatively autonomous but mutually interdependent components of reality. He considers this in terms of the Yolngu people from northeast Arnhem Land, Australia: The Dreaming is not ‘culture’ but it is an excellent example of something that makes a concept of culture necessary to anthropological analysis: it is a level of reality that is a co-determining component of sociocultural reproduction. The Dreaming represents a structure, rather than a set of rules . . . (Morphy 1995)

Such structures, and the ‘systems’ within which they exist, are not rigidly determining in the manner often attributed to classical structuralist or systems theories but rather are transformed and transmitted through individual action – as part of a cultural system of shared meanings and behaviours (D’Andrade 1995; Geertz 2000). The actions of individuals are both enabled and constrained by these structures, which themselves are in a constant process of redefinition through action (cf Hodder 1989:73; Johnson 1989; Shanks and Tilley 1992:71–72). The structures provide mutable, emergent, and overlapping parameters, the existence of which call for an artistic system to be analysed in interaction with other facets of the whole, such as religion, economy, and philosophy. This concept of culture encompasses what Bourdieu (1977:78) describes as the habitus, a set of culturally instilled dispositions inculcated in early childhood that incline people to act in particular ways. Bourdieu (1991:17) argues that, since individuals are the products of particular histories that endure in the habitus, their actions will always be influenced by more than conscious calculation. The habitus predisposes individuals to act in particular ways, pursue certain goals, and so forth. As Thompson (1991:12) points out, these dispositions are durable and generate practices that are regular without being consciously coordinated by any ‘rule’. A serious consideration of style and social strategy also needs to encompass the notion of specific meaning, since an understanding of meaning can facilitate an understanding of structure. For example, Watt’s (1967) analysis of Nevada cattle brands and Faris’s (1972) analysis of Nubean body painting did not produce significant insights concerning the artistic systems they were researching. Morphy (1977:3)


Chapter 10

attributes this to their failure to include a semantic component; this omission makes it impossible to understand why a painting takes on a particular form or why specific elements are selected and organised to produce meaningful representations. However, the approach taken in this paper does not tie the researcher to an understanding of meaning per se. A general analysis of the relationships between style and structure can address the ‘why’ question of social strategy without an explicit understanding of the ‘what’ question of meaning. A praxis-oriented, but Saussurian-inspired, approach to the analysis of visual signification systems needs to consider explicitly the likelihood that the form of the sign will be influenced by the historically and politically situated positions of both producer and interpreter. This notion is depicted in Figure 10.2, which shows the direction of transformational relationships within a visual signification system. The primary information flow is from producer to audience via the visual sign. The main influences on the type of information that will be encoded in the sign – and therefore the form of the sign – are the producer’s cultural mode of perception and depiction and social identity of the audience. Secondary, recursive information flows that subtly



n die



id cial


e au f th



Cultural mod e of perception an d depiction

e of Cultural mod d depiction perception an


Information flow Contextual influences Dialectical relationships

Figure 10.2 Transformational relationships.

Panache and Protocol in Australian Aboriginal Art


reformulate social knowledge occur from the sign to the producer and from the sign to the cultural modes of perception and depiction of both producer and audience – what actor network theory might characterize as a human-object coproduction (see Law and Hassard 1999; Thomas 2004). Within this study, the visual sign is the art object, and the individual signifiers are the morphological characteristics that influence the form of the sign.

A Morphological Characterisation of Style All stylistic description requires morphological characterisation, although it is certainly not identical with it (Davis 1990:22). Style is ‘neither equivalent nor reducible to formal variation’, as Conkey (1989:119) points out. The classic article written by the art historian Meyer Schapiro (1953) suggests that the dimensions of style include form elements, form relationships, and qualities. More recently, Rosenfeld (1991) suggests that the principal criteria for defining an artistic tradition should be in terms of both motif and stylistic conventions, while Layton (1992:187) defines style classes in Australian rock art according to three factors: size, the range and distinctive formal qualities of motifs, and the presence or absence of compositions. Also, archaeologists regularly have discussed the morphological characteristics of style in terms of the analysis of particular types of materials (for example, Conkey 1980; DeBoer 1990; Mead 1975; Sharp 1988). My interest here has been to identify those general features that might influence style in material culture, with particular bearing on Aboriginal art. A general morphological characterisation of the attributes of style that is particularly suited to analysis of Indigenous Australian visual arts includes the following features: ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

base materials mediums techniques modes dimensions colours relationships between elements qualities motifs

All these characteristics of style are amenable to formal archaeological analysis in the sense that they can be observed directly, quantified, and analysed in terms of biases in their distribution. ‘Style’ is the combination of some of the features on this list, but it is not dependent


Chapter 10

on any single feature, especially in the sense of that feature being a diagnostic trait.

Style in Barunga Art This rather abstract discussion of style is now applied to a concrete study of style in action – in particular, to consideration of how social strategies relating to individual and group identity (panache and protocol) are encoded in style in Aboriginal art from the Barunga region, Australia. The results outlined here emerge from an analysis of all art forms produced by artists from July 1991 to August 1992, during which time I lived in the Barunga community. This more comprehensive approach to the study of style makes it possible to: ■

discover how different art forms and stylistic attributes are used to transmit different kinds of information and/or the negotiation of different aspects of social identity; use information expressed in one art form to complement, qualify, and clarify that expressed in other art forms.

Style, Social Strategy, and the Individual Let us now turn to the nexus between style, social strategy, and the individual. A consideration of how the social strategies of the individual are encoded in style must enquire into the ways in which people use style to signal allegiance to a group (protocol) or, alternatively, to assert individual identity (panache). Examples of the art analysed in this study include didgeridoos (known as bamboos3), bark paintings, canvas paintings, body art, baskets, and lorrkons4 (burial poles). Allegiance to a group can be perceived in those art forms or stylistic features that are used by many artists. Figure 10.3 shows that bamboos, bark paintings and, to a lesser extent lorrkons, are produced by many artists; Figure 10.4 illustrates the relative ubiquity of cross-hatching as either an infill or a backfill. The ubiquity of these features within the overall artistic system suggests the stylistic expression of affiliation to the regional group – that is, protocol in Macdonald’s (1990) terms. Taken together, these features communicate general information about the identity of the group, and, taken separately, they indicate the membership of the specific artists within that group. Conversely, some aspects of style were used by artists to distinguish their individual identities from those of others and are open to interpretation in the sense of panache proposed by Macdonald (1990). This is apparent in the limited use of particular motifs. Table 10.1 shows







Figure 10.3


Paddy Babu n = 25

Jack Chadum n = 13

Paddy Fordham n = 55

Bamboos n = 106

George Jungawunga n = 13

The broad distribution of art forms according to artist.

Bark paintings n = 26

Peter Manabaru n = 102

Micky Hall n = 15

John Kelly n=6

Billy Lukanawi n=6

Lorrkons n = 13

Joe Ashley n=8







Figure 10.4


Paddy Babu n = 25

George Jungawunga n = 13

X-hatch infill n = 114

Jack Chadum n = 13

The broad distribution of modes according to artist.

Peter Manabaru n = 102

Donald Blitner n = 21

Micky Hall n = 15

Joe Ashley n=8

X-hatch backfill n = 52

Jimmy Weston n=5

Billy Lukanawi n=6

Panache and Protocol in Australian Aboriginal Art Table 10.1


Frequency of motif use according to number of artists

No. of artists










No. of motifs Percentage

260 82

39 12

11 3.5

3 .94

1 .31

1 .31

2 .63

1 .31

318 100

that 82% of motifs were produced by one artist only and that 12% of motifs were depicted by two artists. Only 3.5% of motifs were depicted by three artists and 2.5% by more than three artists. Sixteen artists depicted the most frequently occurring motif in terms of numbers of artists, the solid band of colour. Overall, it is clear that motifs tend to have a discrete distribution between artists and that each artist uses a limited repertoire of motifs within the overall range that exists within the system. In addition, this clustering of motifs acts to delineate territory, since affiliations to land, clan, and most motifs are inherited patrilineally, as described in the preceding quotation by Billy Lukanawi. This stylistic heterogeneity, in turn, can be interpreted in terms of bounding between neighbouring peoples, each of which has primary rights to specific tracts of land in an area of Australia, which is relatively rich in resources, which itself can be contrasted to the greater stylistic heterogeneity of style in harsh environments (see Smith 1992). However, to what degree is this individualistic use of motifs truly panache, since it actually constitutes the norm within the society? When, in fact, it is the normal behaviour of all members of the group. It seems to me that by asserting their individuality in this way, artists are concurrently asserting their membership of the group and that, at this level, their behaviour is consistent with that which Macdonald describes as protocol. Moreover, the selection of motifs is determined largely by appropriate religious and other forms of affiliation and, as such, reflects and embodies shared identity with other (past, present, and future) artists who share the same affiliations. Thus, the motifs signal membership of a particular social group, even if depicted by only one person. To that extent, this individualistic motif selection can be viewed as an expression of protocol even though its shared expression may not actually manifest materially within a specific timespan. It seems clear that panache and protocol are operating concurrently, but at different levels. Panache is operating at the intragroup level between local people to signal individual identity. Protocol is operating at both the intragroup and the intergroup level. At the intragroup level, individualistic motif selection acts as a protocol that expresses the shared identity of artists with the same affiliations. At the intergroup level, between say, local Aboriginal and nonlocal Aboriginal people, or between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, protocol is signalling


Chapter 10



80 60 40 20 0 Peter Manabaru n = 102

Paddy Babu n = 25

Dot infill n = 37

Donald Blitner n=7

Paddy Fordham n = 55

Vertical lines infill n = 12

Joe Ashley n=8

John Kelly n=6

Dot backfill n = 20

Figure 10.5 The discrete distribution of modes according to artist.

membership of the regional Aboriginal community. Thus, the same stylistic features are transmitting different types of information at the same time, according to the historically and politically situated position of the interpreter. In contrast, the exclusive production of certain art forms by individual artists can be interpreted purely in terms of panache. This interpretation is because this behaviour does not constitute a norm within the society as a whole. While most artists produce cross-hatching on bark paintings or bambus, as discussed above, some artists choose to experiment with other artistic features or materials. For example, Figures 10.5 and 10.6 show that certain modes and art forms can be ascribed to very few artists – and that some art forms are produced by only one artist. I now turn to some case studies in order to consider this individualistic use of style at a more fine-grained level.

Case 1: The Blitner Brothers and the Panache of the Family One of the clearest stylistic manifestations of panache within the Barunga artistic system of action involves the exclusive production of certain art forms by particular artists. For example, Figure 10.5 shows that senior artist Donald Blitner produced all examples of fish and crocodile carvings, and his brother, Fred Blitner, produced all examples of bird carvings (Figure 10.7). In this way, these artists use style to differentiate their individual identities from that of the group.

100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Fred Blitner n=7

Fish carving n = 21

Donald Blitner n = 21

Human figure carving n = 45

Paddy Babu n = 25

The discrete distribution of art forms according to artist.

Board n = 6

Peter Manabaru n = 102

Figure 10.6


Bird carving n = 7

Paddy Fordham n = 55

Canvas paintings n=9

Jack Chadum n = 13

Clapsticks n = 8

Billy Lukanawi n=6


Chapter 10

Figure 10.7 Bird carving made by Fred Blitner.

However, this finding does not imply the existence of a rule that prevents other artists from producing these forms. It is also based on pragmatic factors such as the availability of tools, although this is not an insurmountable problem. Likewise, this finding reflects a fluid process associated with the capacity of the sign to generate meaning. The two brothers have established joint, although separate, identities through the production of unusual, but related, art forms. There is a potential here for these shared stylistic identities to extend to the broader Blitner family. Although other artists theoretically also have a right to produce similar art forms, there are factors inhibiting this production that relate to the panache of the Blitner brothers – for others to produce similar objects would be to somehow ‘key into’ the identities of the brothers, as expressed through style, and this situation would be seen as an encroachment unless the person had inherent rights through being a member of the same family. Certainly, the use of motifs within the broader system of action is clearly related to personal rights that are based on inheritance, as illustrated in the opening quotation by Billy Lukanawi, and these values inhibit any unauthorised copying of another artist’s style.

Panache and Protocol in Australian Aboriginal Art


Case 2: Paddy Fordham and Panache of the Individual The clearest example of the panache of an individual artist lies with the work of Paddy Fordham Wainburranga, the most commercially successful of the Barunga group of artists. Like the Blitners, Paddy Fordham sets himself apart from other artists through producing an unusual art form, in his case carved human figures (known as spirit figures in the art world). However, his art is individualistic at many levels – in terms of base materials, techniques, and modes as well as through the use of colours and qualities. The detailed analysis of his work gives some idea of the range of variation that is encompassed within the Barunga system of action, and I have explored this in Figure 10.8 through comparing his percentage use of particular features with the percentage use of these features by the remainder of the community of artists. This figure shows that much of the difference between Paddy Fordham’s art and that of the rest of the artistic community is of degree, rather than kind. For instance, he uses dotted backfill in 20% of his art, but this occurs only in 4% of the art of the rest of the community. A clearly delineated difference, however, lies with his failure to use cross-hatching as either an infill or a backfill (see Figure 10.9). The idiosyncratic characteristics of his art are recognised by curators of Aboriginal art, and Caruana (1993:45), for example, comments on Paddy Fordham’s favouring of ‘expressionist and dynamic figurative images’ and suggests that he uses dots to create a similar luminosity to that which is produced by other artists using cross-hatching. Figure 10.9 plots differences between Paddy Fordham’s art and that of other artists in the Barunga community; however, there are also similarities that should be recognised. For example, he conforms to the norm in his choice of colours and mediums, which are all naturally occurring. Thus, his panache operates at some levels but not others. The panache of Paddy Fordham can also be used to inquire into the notion of style as power. This is illustrated in his stylistic treatment of lorrkons. Table 10.2 compares the length of lorrkons according to the four artists that produced this art form, with mean length calculated according to the greater end of each range of lengths. It shows that Paddy Fordham’s lorrkons have a statistically longer mean length than those produced by other artists. The mean length of his lorrkons is 2,350 mm, almost 80% longer than the mean length of lorrkons produced by other artists, which is around 1,311 mm. This greater length of Paddy Fordham’s lorrkons is considered a problem in some sections of the Barunga community, since length is one way of distinguishing between ceremonial and nonceremonial lorrkons. Ceremonial lorrkons are produced in a restricted, male-only












Figure 10.8


X-hatch infill X-hatch backfill n = 114 n = 52

The panache of Paddy Fordham figure.

Use of feature by Paddy Fordham n = 55

Carving n = 74

Black ground n = 37

Dynamic n = 19 Use of feature by all other artists n = 266

Dotted backfill n = 37

Panache and Protocol in Australian Aboriginal Art


Figure 10.9 Painting on linoleum by Paddy Fordham.

context, although they are open to viewing by all segments of the Aboriginal community as part of one of the lorrkon series of mortuary ceremonies. They are usually around 2,500 mm in length. In contrast, lorrkons aimed for distribution to a non-Aboriginal audience are produced in a private, although not a restricted, context and are much shorter, as shown in Table 10.2. It is important to be clear that the difficulty posed by Paddy Fordham’s lorrkons lies only in the stylistic feature relating to dimension, rather than


Chapter 10

Table 10.2

Length of lorrkons according to individual artists

Length of Lorrkon (mms)

All Other Artists

Paddy Fordham

700–1000 1000–1350 1350–1700 2000–2300 2300–2700 Total Mean length

3 4 2 0 0 9 1311 mm

0 0 1 1 2 4 2350 mm

Total 3 4 3 1 2 13 1631 mm

with motifs, modes, and so forth. In fact, one solution to the problem that was put forward by a senior artist would be for Paddy Fordham’s lorrkons to be sawn in half.5 Both halves could then be sold either together or independently. Since Barunga people do not normally interfere with one another in this way, this suggestion shows that certain people see the extra length of Paddy Fordham’s lorrkons as a serious problem. Yet the artist, who is well aware of the problem, consciously chooses to ignore the principle that lorrkons produced for a non-Aboriginal audience should be short and to accept the criticism that accompanies his actions. Why? Why insist on producing that style for that particular audience? And how does he have the power to negotiate a general principle of art production that most other artists see as immutable? The answer lies with the situation of the individual artist and how relative identity can be negotiated through style. Paddy Fordham is a highly successful artist whose work is much sought after by the fine-arts market. He regularly wins prestigious art awards, and his work is held in various public as well as private collections. He has travelled extensively throughout Australia and overseas and has broader experience of the wider world than many other Barunga artists. This experience includes contact with Aboriginal artists from other parts of Arnhem Land who produce long lorrkons for distribution to a non-Aboriginal audience. This experience has altered his perceptions so that he views the restriction on the length of nonceremonial lorrkons as a local, rather than a general, principle, since it does not hold in Aboriginal communities outside Barunga. Therefore, he does not feel that this principle regarding length is something by which he need necessarily abide. In addition, his lorrkons are sold for substantial sums, so there is considerable financial incentive for him to adhere to the stylistic formula that he has developed in relation to the fine-arts market. For example, two of the lorrkons included in the database for this study were sold for $2,500 and $3,000 each, and this is not inconsistent with the sums that this artist occasionally commands for other examples of his art.

Panache and Protocol in Australian Aboriginal Art


These sums provide an initial handle on the question of how Paddy Fordham has the power to continuously transgress an important principle of local art production. In a community where people have a medium annual income of around $US 8,000, the large sums that his art often bring in give him considerable economic power, especially given that most people, including Paddy Fordham, do not save money but share it among their extended family. There is a natural reluctance within the community as a whole to restrict any major source of income. The social identity of the audience also has direct bearing on the ‘how’ question. Paddy Fordham produces all this art, including the lorrkons, in a private viewing context, and the finished objects generally do not remain in the community for more than a few days. Therefore, any annoyance caused by his stylistic transgression is not exacerbated by Aboriginal people having to view the object for an extended period of time. Conversely, the lorrkons act to stylistically signify Paddy’s power when they are viewed by local Aboriginal people, since they are evidence of his unique ability to successfully contravene fundamental rules. This incident stylistically expresses some of the dynamics of decision making and power plays in Barunga society. The suggestion to cut the lorrkons in half can be interpreted as a desire to exert the primacy of the Dreaming (and associated social hierarchies) over that of a market economy (and associated social hierarchies). At another level, it can be interpreted as resentment of a community member breaking with traditional and the exertion of levelling forces in response as well as a certain tolerance because of the financial benefits this work gives to the community. Nonetheless, social change is brought about by the successful negotiation of an immutable principle. The question that then arises is how Paddy Fordham’s negotiation of this stylistic convention has influenced the structure of the Barunga system of action. If one accepts that there is a dialectical relationship between social action and structure, then this artist’s actions must have repercussions for the system as a whole: each material act has a potential for reordering and bringing about new perceptions (cf Hodder 1987:8). His actions have introduced the perception that it is possible to produce long lorrkons for a non-Aboriginal audience. This perception must make it easier for other artists, both in the present and future, to negotiate this convention. In the present, this process is demonstrated in a small negotiation of the principle by Peter Manabaru, whereby he produced a lorrkon for a non-Aboriginal friend, versed in culture, that was considerably longer than those which he produced for the tourist market (see Figure 10.10). He explained this unusual length in terms of the closeness of their relationship. To some extent, his actions will coalesce with those of Paddy Fordham’s to affect contemporary


Chapter 10

Figure 10.10 Lorrkorn made by Peter Manabaru.

perceptions of the mutability of the general principle and the contexts in which that principle can be negotiated. So, what of the future? Will this principle exist fifty, or even twenty, years from now? The answer lies with the social-symbolic strategies of both current and future generations of Barunga artists as situated within their ever-changing historical contexts.

Style, Social Strategy, and the Group The issue of how social strategies of the group are manifested in style can be approached through focusing on the social identity of the audience, which Figure 10.2 denotes as a contextual influence on style. The specific question that is addressed here is this: does the social identity of the audience systematically influence the characteristics of style as used by the group? The social identity of the audience was distinguished by whether the intended viewing audience was Aboriginal, non-Aboriginal, or

Panache and Protocol in Australian Aboriginal Art


both. The vast majority of Barunga art is produced for sale to nonAboriginal people, since it provides a major source of income within the community. Other art is produced for the general community, such as when murals are painted on community buildings, or for ceremonial purposes. Both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people view community art; however, ceremonial art is normally viewed by Aboriginal people alone. The different uses of these objects have important implications. Although it is possible to obtain a relatively large sample of art aimed for the tourist market, since it is part of an ongoing production system, only a moderate sample of objects produced for the community can be obtained, since this art is produced on a less regular basis. Moreover, it is impossible to obtain a large sample of art objects used for ceremonial purposes because the same objects are used on many occasions. I make this point simply to explain the unequal sample sizes that underwrite the following discussion. However, this bias was addressed in the statistical analysis through the use of significance tests. One noteworthy result is that there are significant differences between art created for an Aboriginal audience and art created for an audience that includes non-Aboriginal people. For example, as illustrated in Figure 10.11, the former places a greater emphasis on static, geometric qualities, and on bilateral symmetry than does the latter. In addition, a wider range of motifs are used if the context of distribution includes non-Aboriginal people, as illustrated in Table 10.3:288 different motifs were used in art produced for sale to non-Aboriginal people, 36 motifs were used in a context of distribution that encompasses both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, and 3 motifs occurred in art aimed for distribution among Aboriginal people only. These differences in style are recognised by Aboriginal people at an emic level, and these people comment that art produced for non-Aboriginal people is made ‘flash’ through the incorporation of a wide range of motifs and modes. This ‘flashness’ can be interpreted as panache, in that it constitutes dash or flamboyance in style. Conversely, art produced for distribution among Aboriginal people is relatively simple in style and is described by Aboriginal people as ‘plain way’. This ‘plainness’ can be interpreted as protocol, since it is ubiquitous in that context. Moreover, the social context in which ceremonial art is produced acts to inhibit, or disallow, the artistic innovation that might create greater panache, or stylistically diversity. Art that is produced for viewing by an Aboriginal audience is created by several artists working together, usually in the company of other Aboriginal people, rather than by a single artist working in relative isolation. The presence of other people


Chapter 10

100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Geometric




Bi-lateral symmetry


Figure 10.11 Distribution of features according to the context of distribution. Table 10.3

Number of motif types used in different contexts of distribution

No. of motif types

Aboriginal n = 10

Non-Aboriginal n = 295

Both n = 16

Total n = 321





during the production of ceremonial art reinforces adherence to the core principle, in this case that art should follow the dictates of ancestors. It is likely that this context of production produces a powerful constraint on artistic innovation. These results suggest that there are two Barunga artistic systems – one in which a stylistically diverse art is produced for viewing by a primarily non-Aboriginal audience and another in which a more stylistically homogeneous art is produced for viewing solely by an Aboriginal audience. In terms of Wiessner’s (1990:109) proposition that

Panache and Protocol in Australian Aboriginal Art


situations that switch on group identity include a need for cooperation to reach certain goals, it seems reasonable to argue that Barunga artists as a group are cooperating in protecting the more secret or private features of their culture, as manifested in art objects, while simultaneously taking advantage of the economic opportunities presented by the non-Aboriginal art market.

Conclusion In this study I have interpreted patterning in the morphological characteristics of style in an Australian Aboriginal system of knowledge in terms of a theoretical framework that integrates style, semiotics, and social strategy. In particular, I have enquired into the manner in which the social strategies of both the individual and the group may be seen to influence style, and how both individual and group strategies can manifest at stylistic panache or protocol. Social strategies aimed at differentiating the individual from the group manifest in the ownership and use of a wide range of motifs and in the individual production of idiosyncratic art forms. Moreover, the enormous variation in the range of motifs used by individual artists can be seen to operate concurrently as both panache and protocol, in the senses proposed by Macdonald (1990). At the intragroup level, the use of motifs owned by the individual is the operation of panache to signal individual identity and affiliation to particular tracts of land, while the alternate principle of protocol operates through expressing identity with artists who share the same affiliations. At the intergroup level, say, between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, protocol expresses membership of the regional Aboriginal community. Thus, the same stylistic attributes have a capacity to communicate different types of information simultaneously according to the historically and politically situated position of the interpreter. Social strategies of the group are manifested in Barunga art through stylistic adherence to the ethos that art produced for a non-Aboriginal audience should be substantially different from that produced for ceremonial contexts with a purely Aboriginal audience. In Wiessner’s (1990:109) terms, this is a situation in which group identity is switched on in order to achieve a particular goal – in this case, the protection of secret/sacred features of Barunga culture – while tapping into commercial opportunities. Clearly, much of the variation in Barunga art can be attributed to the differing emphases that artists place on the stylistic expression of their separateness as individuals or their membership of a group – and this emphasis alters according to the social identity of the people who view the art. Thus, the Barunga artistic system has


Chapter 10

an inherent capacity to encompass a range of styles according to both the social strategies being pursued by artists and the social identity of the audience: the form of the sign is influenced by the historically and politically situated positions of both producer and interpreter. Furthermore, it is implied that different information is being communicated through style in different contexts. Information transmission can take any of a number of vehicles (for example, words, art, gestures, music, structured silences), and the potential mix of information sources will differ according to the particular situation (for instance, restricted ceremonies, public ceremonies, domestic situation, teaching situation) and social identities of the individuals involved. For example, art that is produced as part of a ceremony possesses a dynamic quality and a public voice that should be distinguished from the more passive and private voice of other forms. The art object/sign that is produced for this social use will differ in form to the art object/sign that is produced for other social uses. This general notion is implicit in Saussurian semiotics, and Morphy (1991:144), writing in relation to the range of sign systems in human societies, comments that: It [the Saussurian perspective] allows for the fact that different sign systems may encode things in different ways, may encode different things (or the same things with different values) and may have different communicative potentials. It is not possible to say the same thing in every code, partly because some codes have limited purposes and limited possibilities, but more generally because different codes have different properties and encode different things in different ways.

The types of issues addressed in this paper are intrinsic to a conceptualisation of style as a system of signification allied to the pursuit of social strategies. Although this paper has addressed a basic question concerning the relationships among style, semiotics, and the social strategies of the individual and the group, there are many more complex issues to be studied. Certainly, one of the most interesting challenges facing contemporary archaeological studies of style is that of developing methods of analysis, including classificatory systems that are capable of dealing with the dynamics of image creation and perception. Clearly, strategizing style is going to be a major challenge for us all.

Acknowledgments This study derives from my doctoral research, supervised by Jane Balme, Mike Morwood, and Betty Meehan, and I thank them for their patience, encouragement, and intellectual generosity. The study was inspired by the theoretical challenges posed by Meg Conkey and William Macdonald,

Panache and Protocol in Australian Aboriginal Art


and by Howard Morphy’s insights into Yirrkala art. I am grateful to Gary Jackson, who conducts the fieldwork with me, and Jimmy Smith, who continues to help with me find my proper place in the community (as the mother of Jimmy Smith, also named Lamjerroc). I thank the Aboriginal Elders who guide, and have guided, me, especially Peter Manabaru, Lily Willika, Jimmy and Glen Wesan, and Phyllis Wiynjorroc. Figure 10.2 emerged from many late night discussions with Heather Burke, who also drew the figure. Finally, this chapter appears in this book only because Inés Domingo Sanz, Dánae Fiore, and Sally K. May insisted that I focus on this, rather than something else. Now it is done; I am glad.

Endnotes 1. Macdonald’s ‘panache’ and ‘protocol’ can be usefully compared to Wiessner’s (1983) distinction between ‘assertive’ and ‘emblemic’ styles. The principle difference between the two is that Macdonald’s categorisation is based on whether comparison occurs at the level of the individual or the group. His category of protocol encompasses behaviours that are both vertical (to do with status) and horizontal (to do with etiquette). Taken together, they are broadly equivalent to Wiessner’s emblemic style (Macdonald 1990:Figure 6.1). 2. I refer to the artists with whom I worked by their individual names for two reasons. First, this grounds my research in the concrete, situating the results in actions of known individuals. Second, when I raised this issue with Barunga people they replied that they wished to be identified by name since then non-Aboriginal people would ‘believe’. However, anyone visiting the Barunga community should be cautious about using the names of these artists, since some are now deceased, and it is considered dangerous to say their names aloud. 3. Musical instruments, usually referred to by non-Aboriginal people as didgeridoos. 4. Burial logs used to hold the possessions of dead people and, in the past, their skeletal remains. 5. This suggestion would horrify members of the fine-arts market who collect Paddy’s work, which indicates how little this market is taken into account by community members.

References Bourdieu, P. 1968. ‘Outline of a sociological theory of art perception’, International Social Science Journal 19:569–612. ———. 1977. Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ———. 1991. Language and Symbolic Power. Cambridge: Polity Press in association with Basil Blackwell. Caruana, W. 1993. Aboriginal Art. London: Thames and Hudson. Chase, P. G. 1991. ‘Symbols and Palaeolithic artefacts: Style, standardisation and the imposition of arbitrary form’, Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 10:193–214. Conkey, M. W. 1980. ‘Context, structure and efficacy in Palaeolithic art and design’. In M. Foster and S. Brandes (eds.), Symbol as Sense. New York: Academic Press, 225–48. ———. 1989. ‘The use of diversity in stylistic analysis’. In R. Leonard and G. Jones (eds.), Quantifying Diversity in Archaeology. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 118–30.


Chapter 10

Conkey, M. W. 1990. ‘Experimenting with style in archaeology: Some historical and theoretical issues’. In M. Conkey and C. Hastorf (eds.), The Uses of Style in Archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 5–17. Coward, R., and J. Ellis. 1977. Language and Materialism: Developments in Semiology and the Theory of the Subject. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. D’Andrade, R. 1995. The Development of Cognitive Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Davis, W. 1990. ‘Style and history in art history’. In M. Conkey and C. Hastorf (eds.), The Uses of Style in Archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 18–31. DeBoer, W. 1990. ‘Interaction, imitation, and communication as expressed in style: The Ucayali experience’. In M. Conkey and C. Hastorf (eds.), The Uses of Style in Archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 82–104. Dibble, H. 1989. ‘The implications of stone tool types for the presence of language during the middle Palaeolithic’. In P. Mellars and C. Stringer (eds.), The Origins and Dispersal of Modern Humans: Behavioural and Biological Perspectives. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press, 415–32. Faris, J. 1972. Nuba Personal Art. London: Duckworth. Gamble, C. 1991 ‘The social context for European Palaeolithic art’, Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 57:3–15. Geertz, C. 2000. The Interpretation of Cultures. New York: Basic Books. Giddens, A. 1977. Studies in Social and Political Theory. London: Hutchinson. Hodder, I. (ed.). 1987. The Archaeology of Contextual Meanings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hodder, I. 1989. ‘Post-modernism, post-structuralism and post-processual archaeology’. In Hodder I. (ed.), The Meaning of Things: Material Culture and Symbolic Expression. London: Harper Collins Academic, 64–78. Johnson, M. H. 1989. ‘Conceptions of agency in archaeological interpretation’, Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 8:189–211. Law, J., and J. Hassard. 1999. Actor Network Theory and After. Oxford: Blackwell. Layton, R. 1992. Australian Rock Art: A New Synthesis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Macdonald, W. 1990. ‘Investigating style: An exploratory analysis of some Plains burials’. In M. Conkey and C. Hastorf (eds.), The Uses of Style in Archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 52–60. Mead, S. M. 1975. ‘The decorative system of the Lapita potters of Sigatoka, Fiji’. In S. M. Mead, L. Birks, H. Birks, and E. Shaw (eds.), The Lapita Pottery Style of Fiji and Its Associations. Wellington: The Polynesian Society, 19–43. Morphy, H. 1977. ‘”Too Many Meanings”: An Analysis of the Artistic System of the Yolngu of Northeast Arnhem Land’. Unpublished PhD thesis, Australian National University. ———. 1991. Ancestral Connections: Art and an Aboriginal System of Knowledge. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. ———. 1995. ‘Landscape and the reproduction of the ancestral past’. In E. Hirsch and M. O’Hanlon (eds.), The Anthropology of Landscape. Between Place and Space. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 184–209. Morwood, M. J. 1984. ‘The prehistory of the Central Queensland Highlands’. In F. Wendors and A. Close (eds.), Advances in World Archaeology. New York: Academic Press, 325–80. Ortner, S. 1984. ‘Theory in anthropology since the sixties’, Comparative Studies in Society and History 26:126–66. Rosenfeld, A. 1991. ‘Panaramitee: Dead or alive?’. In P. Bahn and A. Rosenfeld (eds.), Rock Art and Prehistory: Papers Presented to Symposium G of the AURA Congress, Darwin 1988. Oxford: Oxbow, 136–44.

Panache and Protocol in Australian Aboriginal Art


Rosenfeld, A. 1992. ‘Recent developments in Australian rock art studies’. In R. Laffineur and J. Crowley (eds.), Aegean Bronze Age Icononography: Shaping a Methodology. Liége: Histoire de l’art et archéologie de la Grece antique, Université de Liége, 231–38. Sackett, J. 1977. ‘The meaning of style in archaeology: A general model’, American Antiquity 369–80. ———. 1982. ‘Approaches to style in lithic archaeology’, Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 1:59–112. ———. 1985. ‘Style and ethnicity in the Kalahari: A reply to Wiessner’, American Antiquity 50:154–60. ———. 1990. ‘Style and ethnicity in archaeology: The case for isochrestism’. In M. Conkey and C. Hastorf (eds.), The Uses of Style in Archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 32–43. Schapiro, M. 1953. ‘Style’. In A. L. Kroeber (ed.), Anthropology Today. Chicago: Aldine Press, 287–312. Shanks, M., and C. Tilley. 1992. Reconstructing Archaeology: Theory and Practice. London: Routledge. Sharp, N. 1988. ‘Style and substance: A reconsideration of the Lapita decorative system’. In P. V. Kirch and T. L. Hunt (eds.), Archaeology of the Lapita Cultural Complex: A Critical Review. Seattle: Burke Museum, 61–81. Smith, C. 1992. ‘The articulation of style and social structure through Australian Aboriginal art’, Aboriginal Studies 1:28–34. Smith, L. T. 1999. Decolonising Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples (2nd ed.). London: Zed Books. Sperber, D. 1976. Rethinking Symbolism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Thomas, J. 2004. ‘Archaeology’s place in modernity’, Modernism/Modernity 11:17–34. Thompson, J. (ed.). 1991. Language and Symbolic Power. Oxford: Polity Press in association with Basil Blackwell. Watt, W. C. 1967. ‘Structural properties of the Nevada cattle-brands’, Computer Science Research Review, Carnegie-Mellon University, 20–7. Wiessner, P. 1983. ‘Style and social information in Kalahari projectile points’, American Antiquity 49:253–76. ———. 1984. ‘Reconstructing the behavioural basis for style: A case study among the Kalihari San’, Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 3:190–234. ———. 1985. ‘Style or isochrestic variation? A reply to Sackett’, American Antiquity 50:160–65. ———. 1990. ‘Is there a unity to style?’. In M. Conkey and C. Hastorf (eds.), The Uses of Style in Archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 105–12. Wobst, H. M. 1977. ‘Stylistic behaviour and information exchange’. In C. E. Cleland (ed.), Papers for the Director: Research Essays in Honour of James B. Griffin. Ann Arbor: Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan, 317–42.

CHAPTER 11 Body Painting and Visual Practice: The Creation of Social Identities through Image Making and Display in Tierra del Fuego (Southern South America) Dánae Fiore

The main aim of this chapter is to analyse the ways in which body painting was involved in the creation of social identities among the Selk’nam and Yámana populations of Tierra del Fuego, which has been inhabited by hunter-gatherer groups since at least 11,800 years B.P. (Massone et al. 1998). At the time of contact with Europeans, from the sixteenth century onward, the Fuegian archipelago was inhabited by four different aboriginal societies: the Selk’nam, the Yámana, the Haush, and the Alacaluf (Cooper 1917; Gusinde 1982 [1931], 1986 [1937]). All these groups were hunter-gatherers, and they occupied different territories, spoke different languages, and had developed different means of subsistence. Although there is clear evidence that all these indigenous societies wore body painting, the amount and quality of the available information are enough only to pursue thorough comparative research in the Yámana and Selk’nam cases (Fiore 2002a, 2005a). The Selk’nam lived in the north and centre of the island Tierra del Fuego and were terrestrial hunter-gatherers. The Yámana lived in the southern portion of the island, occupying the shores of the Beagle Channel and other islands toward the south, reaching down to the southernmost land point, Cape Horn. They were littoral hunter-gatherers and fishers, and moved very frequently in canoes. These names, territories, dates, and so forth are part of the archaeological, anthropological, and historical construction of social identities for the Selk’nam and Yámana peoples by academics. It is my contention that body painting was also a way in which Fuegian societies defined themselves; through its study, archaeologists can learn more about the visual dynamics involved in the creation of social identities by the 243

Figure 11.1

Map of the Fueguian societies territories.

Body Painting and Visual Practice


Selk’nam and the Yámana, and also can become more aware of their own actions in the construction and representation of such identities.

Identity, Habit, and Body Painting Social identity is conceived in this chapter as a set of cultural perceptible features (visible, audible, and so on) produced by a group of people that serves to define the group as distinctive. Such recognition operates through two different but interrelated processes: an external recognition of the group by people who do not belong to it (‘the others’) and an internal self-recognition of the people who belong to the group as having a distinctiveness that stems partly from its self-differentiation from ‘the others’ (Barth 1969; Bonfil Batalla 1972; Díaz Polanco 1981, 1984; Shennan 1989). Therefore, social identity is considered as a twofold construction: it involves a process of self-ascription to a group and a process of ascription by others to such group. Thus, it is a dual relationship in which a group engages simultaneously and dialectically with itself and with ‘the others’. This relational nature of social identity does not imply that ‘self’ and ‘otherness’ are always equally balanced in the construction of any given group identity: one or the other agent may be more active and more powerful in shaping identity at any given moment of its history. Also, the set of features that contribute to such construction is not homogeneous but contains a range of variation. Moreover, such variability changes through space and time: social identity does not mean immutable essence. Although identity is related to the ascription of people to a group, it does not necessarily involve an entirely intentional, conscious, or explicit attitude toward such ascription (cf Wiessner 1983), since many actions that create features that may be used as identity cues may be unintentional, subconscious, or remain partly implicit within people’s agencies (Bourdieu 1977). The characterisation presented in this chapter does not intend to cover all the implications about the existence and the dynamics of social identity, but it acts as an operational framework within which to analyse the issues related to body painting manipulation as a source of social identity. The concepts introduced here can operate on different analytical scales: from individual to group to society to species. These scales imply different kinds of relationships among people. Many of these have been fruitfully explored by archaeologists and anthropologists – for example, the assertive and emblemic uses of material culture, which relate to individual and group identities, respectively (Wiessner 1983). In this chapter, I work mainly with two scales: intrasociety and intersociety. On an intrasociety scale, the focus is placed on the relationships


Chapter 11

among people of the same society (for example, Yámana with Yámana) and on the practices that generated the features on which self-ascription to such society was based. At an intersociety scale, the focus is placed on the relationships between people of two different societies and the ways in which self-ascription and ascription by others were mutually interacting in the construction of a group’s identity. This scale includes (1) relationships between Selk’nam and Yámana, and (2) relationships between Fuegians (Selk’nam or Yámana) and non-Fuegians (voyagers, militaries, missionaries, ethnographers, archaeologists, mostly of European origin and later of Chilean and Argentinean origin; I include my own relationship with the Fuegians and their cultures in this last level). It should be clear that these scales are divided only for analytical purposes but that the processes analysed in each one of them were and are inextricably linked. Within the perceptible features that were involved in Selk’nam and Yámana identity construction, I focus on body paintings. The actions of creating, wearing, and viewing painted designs on the body were forms of visual practice that were patterned through habit; the repeated display of certain designs made their producers and wearers an identifiable social group different from their neighbours (Bourdieu 1977; Lévi-Strauss 1982). Several authors have shown that, like many other material culture products, body painting patterns concentrate the producers’ agency and therefore can act as visual cues that are potentially informative of their social identities, including their ethnicity, gender, age, and kinship (Faris 1972; Layton 1989; Strathern and Strathern 1971; Turner 1980). Moreover, body painting is a way not only of marking identities but also of constructing them; following the authors quoted above, I contend that social identities can be partly created through the process of painting or getting painted, and of displaying or viewing designs painted on the body. Besides, unlike many other material culture products, body paintings are necessarily attached to people’s skin and hair, and this factor leads the observer directly toward the person who is wearing the design, thus providing more straightforward information about the wearer and his/her identity.

An Archaeology of the Ethnographic Record The study of ethnographic materials – in this case, texts and photographs – can be directly relevant for an archaeological research project. In the past, ethnography has been used as an empirical basis from which direct analogies with the archaeological record were constructed. Such a position had numerous epistemological and methodological flaws; one of the most important was its inductive nature, which entailed that

Body Painting and Visual Practice


the ethnographic record was directly applied to the interpretation of the archaeological record without creating any means of independent corroboration of such interpretation. With the development of processual archaeology and its deductive methodology, the ethnographic record was regarded as a source of hypotheses, and direct analogies were replaced by the proposition of explicit expectations and indicators that could then be tested against the archaeological record to corroborate or refute hypotheses. In some cases, nevertheless, the result of such epistemological process was not so much the analysis of the archaeological record in the light of these ethnographically derived hypotheses but the construction of a set of ‘cautionary tales’ that indicated the risks of making untested assumptions about the archaeological record (Binford 1986; O’Connell 1995). In spite of these fundamental advances in the epistemological aspects regarding the use of ethnographic data in archaeological research, it is important to notice that hypotheses connect concepts with data, and that although data can be based on the ethnographic or archaeological records, concepts necessarily stem from theory (Bunge 1983). Therefore, the hypotheses put forward in this chapter are derived from theory, not just from ethnographic data. In turn, stressing the presence of theoretical concepts throughout the research process avoids the possibility of falling into a tautological argument in which the ethnographic record would be both the source of a hypothesis and the source of data to assess it. In this chapter, the Fuegian ethnographic record – both textual and visual – is used as a complementary source of data that is spatially and temporally parallel to the recent archaeological record of Tierra del Fuego. The use of ethnographic information as complementary to that of the archaeological record allows for the characterisation of different aspects of the same phenomenon – in this case, the construction of social identities through the creation and display of body painting designs. Such aspects may have different degrees of visibility in the archaeological record, and therefore their research is benefited by the combination with other sources of information such as texts and photographs. This combination needs to be done necessarily in a critical and systematic manner, in order to assess the integrity, resolution, and reliability of the information provided by archaeological record versus the ethnographic record, both of which have different biases and informative potentials. For example, body painting is not usually represented in the archaeological record, or, at most, it is ambiguously represented by pigment or paint residues and painting tools found in some sites; yet its use is clearly documented in other kinds of artefacts that do not belong to the ‘traditional’ archaeological record: ethnographic photographs. Therefore, the systematic study of these artefacts – which indeed have


Chapter 11

been constructed by the dynamic interaction between Western photographers and Fuegian subjects – can show the existence of patterns in the display of body painting designs, which in turn can be associated with specific social groups and circumstances (Fiore 2005b). Thus, it is possible to construct new knowledge about past social habits that usually have very low archaeological visibility, owing to their ephemeral nature, through an archaeology of the ethnographic record.

Sources of Data and Analytical Methods Body painting is an ephemeral material culture product of very low archaeological visibility. For this reason, the research presented here is based on the analysis of texts and photographs provided by historical and ethnographic records. These records include: 1. 75 first-hand texts, written by 52 authors, which range from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries; 2. 228 visual records (mostly photographs, and some drawings), including 130 for the Selk’nam case and 98 for the Yámana case; these document a total of 449 painted persons, as well as artefacts related to body painting procedures and ceremonial paraphernalia worn together with the painted designs.

These visual and textual sources were critically and systematically studied in order to assess their relevance, accuracy, and reliability. This fact does not mean that the inherent subjectivity of the records could or should be eliminated, since it is a central constituent of the texts/ photographs and is informative in itself. Rather, this approach helped in the identification of different social agents who influenced the process of body painting display, observation, recording, and interpretation (for example, voyagers, missionaries, ethnographers, writers, photographers, draughtsmen, Fuegians). The information obtained from texts and images was compiled in tables and databases (respectively), according to variables such as author/observer, date, season, number of days spent in Tierra del Fuego, language of communication with the Fuegians, purposes of the voyage/ mission, gender and age of the painted person, designs worn (motifs, colours, parts of the body that were painted, and so on), circumstances (everyday life, ceremonial, unspecified), meanings of the designs (if any), and so forth. This systematic compilation of the data helped in the identification of patterns in the designs and in the uses of body painting (Fiore 2004, 2005c). I focus here only on those related to the construction of Fuegian social identities. The criteria used to select these data include: 1. that the designs are associated with a group of persons at an intrasociety level, potentially constructing/expressing its identity; such a group may be

Body Painting and Visual Practice


defined by one or many factors – for example, gender, age, initiands, initiated people, shamans, and so on; 2. that the designs are associated with an entire society at an intersociety level, potentially constructing/expressing its identity.

In both cases it is not expected that the whole group will wear the designs in question but rather that a strong qualitative or quantitative tendency will suggest the presence of a cultural pattern (that is, that a design is usually worn by a certain group of people, or that a tendency to wear a design by a number of people in a group is statistically significant). In few cases, verbal information does corroborate the existence of an explicit intention in the construction of a social identity through the display of the painted designs. In most cases, such verbal information is lacking, and the association between a group of persons and the designs they wear is the central evidence used to infer some visual aspects of identity construction. This latter scenario, which focuses on material culture rather than text, and on action more than on intention, is directly relevant to prehistoric archaeology cases, in which the use of written material is not available and where intentional actions are not always recognisable.

Painted Fueguians and Western Observers As noted above, the Selk’nam and the Yámana were two neighbouring societies that lived in the Fuegian archipelago, whom in spite of their vicinity were considerably different in physical and sociocultural terms. The history of the formation of the historical and ethnographic records about these two Fuegian societies can be divided into three different broad trends that depended on the attitudes of very different types of first-hand ‘observers’: the voyagers-explorers-militaries, the missionaries, and the ethnographers. The voyagers’ and explorers’ journey records focus mostly on the description of the geographical features of Tierra del Fuego’s shores and seas, since it is clear that these were needed as future reference to reach the places once discovered. Yet, several of these texts also mention the encounters with ‘aborigines’, including references to their use of body painting – for example, Sarmiento de Gamboa [1580–1584] 1950; Van Noort [1599] in Alvarez (2000:40); and so on). In spite of the violent nature of many of these encounters, and of the noticeable exaggerations in some of the descriptions of the ‘natives’, these early texts contain neither value-laden language nor show explicit biases against the Fuegian’s custom of painting their bodies. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the voyagers’ and explorers’ texts show a shift in their tone regarding the appraisal of


Chapter 11

the aborigines’ appearance and attitudes. For example, the texts of Banks (1962) and G. Forster (1777) – who were the naturalists on the two expeditions led by J. Cook in 1769 and 1772 – and of Fitz-Roy (1839) and Darwin (1839, 1845) not only provide accounts of the observed customs but also advance value-laden descriptions, negative opinions, and even some explanations for what was observed. During the nineteenth century, a number of missions were started in the region, with different degrees of success, starting a second trend in the formation of the Fuegian historical-ethnographic records. The texts produced by the Anglican and Salesian missionaries are clearly ethnocentric insofar as their mere presence in the region was intended to make ‘desirable changes’ in the Fuegian cultures. Therefore, their view of body painting habits – and of the nakedness usually associated with it – was mostly negative (for example, Parker Snow [1857]; Despard [1857–1861]; Stirling [1863–1865]; Bridges [1893]; Beauvoir [1915]; Borgatello [1929]; De Agostini [1924]; and so on). Yet these texts are deeply informative about the Fuegian body painting practices as well as about the actions taken by the missionaries to try to change them. At the same time, a number of expeditions to Tierra del Fuego were also carried out; these were related either to private economic ventures or to state interests supported by the Argentinean and Chilean governments, which mixed military and economic goals. Several of these expeditions generated information about the Fuegian peoples and their body paintings, although their degrees of reliability are quite variable (for instance, Spegazzini [1882]; Popper [1887]; Lista [1887]; Segers [1891]; Barclay [1926; Gallardo [1910]). The third trend in the formation process of the Fuegian historical and ethnographic records was generated by expeditions that were specifically carried out with scientific aims. These started with the French Mission Scientifique du Cap Horn (Hyades and Deniker 1891; Martial 1888), which involved specialists in numerous scientific disciplines and generated the first photographic records of the Fuegians. This mission was followed by a number of individual expeditions carried out by trained or amateur ethnographers, who also generated rich written and visual ethnographic records (Furlong [1917]; Gusinde [see below]; Koppers [1924, 1997]; Lothrop [1928] and Spencer [1951]). Of these, Gusinde was clearly the most prolific, having carried out four field-work seasons between 1918 and 1924 and publishing four thorough volumes on the Selk’nam: Gusinde 1982 [1931], Yámana (Gusinde 1986 [1937]), Alacaluf (Gusinde 1991 [1974], and Physical Anthropology of the Fuegians (Gusinde 1989 [1939]; see reviews in Orquera and Piana 1999a and Fiore 2004. It is because of these written and visual historical-ethnographic records that there is a solid corpus of data about the Fuegian societies.

Body Painting and Visual Practice


The Selk’nam (named ‘Ona’ by their Yámana neighbours) were tall and well-built hunter-gatherers who dressed with guanaco cloaks and wore facial and body paintings frequently. The men wore a distinctive triangular headband made of guanaco skin, which they tied over their foreheads. Men hunted guanacos – which were fundamental in the Selk’nam diet – using bows and arrows. Women focused mostly on gathering, the care of children, basket weaving, and also were in charge of moving the folded tents from one spot to the next (Gusinde 1982). The Selk’nam society was deeply divided in terms of gender, not just because of its labour division but also because of the power exerted by men over women in daily life and in ceremonial circumstances (Chapman 1982; Fiore 2006; see details below). The Selk’nam mythology was very rich and complex and included the belief in numerous spirits and characters that shaped the Selk’nam world during the time of their ancestors (Chapman 1982). Owing to these mythological beliefs, the Selk’nam land was subdivided into four skies, or sho’ons, each of which was a mythical place of creation of the universe. Each sho’on was subdivided in numerous territories, or harwens, which were inhabited by patrilineal and patrilocal kinships. Therefore, when Selk’nam people belonging to a specific kinship had to pass through, camp or hunt in another kinship’s harwen, they had to ask for specific permission; they returned the favour with offerings, as well as maintaining a reciprocity system through which the other kinship members could carry out the same activities in their own harwen. This does not mean that there were no conflicts in the Selk’nam society; these are clearly documented, peaking during the occupation of their lands by Westerners, since their presence and expansion generated a retraction of the Selk’nam territory and augmented their sources of conflict (Borrero 1991). The Yámana were physically shorter and smaller than their Selk’nam neighbours. They dressed in small capes made of sea lion skins, which they wore over their naked or seminaked bodies (they sometimes wore a loin cloth). Both men and women wore long necklaces made of shells and bone beads, as well as tendon bracelets and anklets; they also wore facial and body paintings. The Yámana specialised their subsistence in the consumption of sea lions, which they usually captured using harpoons made of bone (Gusinde 1986; Orquera and Piana 1999b). To do so, they sailed the ocean and channel shores in canoes made with bark planks. Men harpooned the prey while women rowed and manoeuvred the canoes with a considerable degree of skill (which was even recognised by Western male navigators). This complementary activity may be one of the reasons why the Yámana society did generate gender divisions but was comparatively more egalitarian than the Selk’nam society (Chapman 1997; Fiore 2006).


Chapter 11

It was precisely because of the use of these canoes that the Yámana territory could extend throughout the southern portion of the Fuegian archipelago, up to Cape Horn. Besides consuming sea lions, these people also complemented their diet with shellfish, which could be gathered by persons of all ages and both genders. The debris of these molluscs accumulated around their tents, forming shell middens that are the typical type of archaeological site found in southern Tierra del Fuego (Orquera and Piana 1999b). Birds, fish, and guanacos were also consumed. The Yámana were very skilled producers of bone artefacts, which included not only the afore-mentioned harpoons but also awls and wedges. Their mythology was rich and provided explanations about multiple aspects of the natural and social world as well as strict rules of conduct (Gusinde 1986). Body painting was worn by the Selk’nam and the Yámana in a number of occasions, such as to protect the skin from the cold and windy weather, to beautify the face or body, to get married, and to mourn (see Bridges 1897; Chapman 1982; Gusinde 1982 [1931], 1986 [1937]; Lothrop 1928). In both societies, the most varied and complex sets of body painting designs were those related to initiation ceremonies to adulthood. The data about the ceremonies come from observations and interviews carried out by seven authors mostly during the early twentieth century (T. Bridges 1893, 1897; Anon. Salesian Missionary 1914 in Belza 1974; L. Bridges 1935, 1951; Gusinde 1920, 1922, 1951, 1982 [1931], 1986 [1937], 1989 [1939]; Koppers 1924, 1997; Chapman 1982, 1997; Stambuk 1986 – these last two cases are based on interviews, not on direct observations). These records include 14 texts and 98 photographs. In both societies, the colours used for creating the paintings were red, white, and black. The designs were simple but varied, and were basically constructed using dots, lines, bands, and plain grounds of colour (Fiore 2002a, 2005a). At the time, the Westerners could observe (and record) the uses of body painting in these ceremonies; they may have suffered a series of transformations, correlated with the deep changes that the aboriginal societies were undergoing, such as acculturation, death by new diseases, lack of traditional subsistence resources, and even systematic killings (Borrero 1957, 1991; Orquera and Piana 1999a). I now explore how these deep changes translated into transformations in the social identities of the Yámana and Selk’nam nations, and how these identity changes were developed through transformed or preserved painted designs.

Visual Patterns as Identity Markers: Spotting Identity through Biased Records A systematic comparison between the body paintings displayed by the Selk’nam and the Yámana recorded in photographs, drawings, and texts

Body Painting and Visual Practice


shows that the members of these two societies wore different designs. A total of 49 motifs have been identified as part of the Selk’nam repertoire, and 33 motifs have been identified as pertaining to the Yámana repertoire (these obviously do not necessarily constitute the whole set of motifs used by either society, since the ethnographic records constitute only a sample of the paintings they wore). Of these motifs, only 9 coincide between the two repertoires; the rest are exclusively Selk’nam or exclusively Yámana (Fiore 2002a, 2005a). The motifs identified as exclusively belonging to one or the other repertoire appear as indicators of their social identities to the foreign (and trained) eye. It is also possible that these motifs worked as identity markers for the people when involved in intersociety relationships; a typically Selk’nam body painting motif may have been an indication of the person’s social identity when viewed by non-Selk’nam people (Yámana, Alacaluf, and so on). Yet this does not necessarily mean that the Selk’nam or the Yámana were explicitly wearing these motifs to ascribe themselves to a certain society and thus to distinguish themselves from their neighbours; at the moment, we lack the information to confirm or deny this possibility. In spite of this lack of information, the recurring use of certain designs generated sociocultural patterns that hold some chronological depth and are thus recognisable as identity markers at an intersociety scale. An interesting example of this is a photograph taken between 1910–1930 by a Salesian priest, A. De Agostini, which depicts two women: one (Yayosh) painting the other one (Lakutaia). The two women are wearing guanaco skin cloaks, a typical Selk’nam garment, yet the design that Yayosh is painting on Lakutaia’s face is typically Yámana. It consists of a horizontal line stretching between the eyes and continuing from the corner of each eye across the temples, combined with a series of vertical parallel lines across the face that run perpendicular from the horizontal line downward (Fiore 2002a:712). This motif has been identified in several photographs of Yámana painted persons, including one taken in 1882–1883 by the French scientific mission to Tierra del Fuego (Chapman et al. 1995; Hyades and Deniker 1891; Martial 1888). There are no records of people from other Fuegian societies wearing this motif. So here is the paradox: the women are wearing Selk’nam clothing and yet they are adorned with Yámana paintings. Such apparent discrepancy has a reason: the photographed women are Yámana and are probably wearing (Selk’nam) guanaco cloaks because these may have looked more ‘ethnographically traditional’ to the photographer than the Western clothes that the Yámana wore from early twentieth century onward (as one facet of the deep acculturation they were suffering). But it seems that Yayosh was free to paint Lakutaia’s face with any design that she wanted, and she


Chapter 11

Figure 11.2 Yayosh painting Lakutaia; note the design, of Yámana origin, and the clothing, similar to Selk’nam cloaks (photo by A. De Agostini).

did so: she painted what seems to be a typically Yámana design. In this way, the repeated production and display of certain body painting motifs help in revealing the persistence of certain social identities, even via the biased records made by Western observers. Social identity may not have been explicitly constructed through visual means, but visual practice carried identity in an implicit way. The habit turned into a visual pattern. And the pattern became a visible way of identifying the agency of a Yámana person beyond the changes imposed by the Western photographer. In this case, identity was stronger than fake representation (Figure 11.2).

Ceremonial Painting and Social Identity at Intrasociety and Intersociety Scales In Tierra del Fuego, the most elaborate and complex use of body painting happened during three initiation ceremonies: the chiéjaus and the kina, celebrated by the Yámana, and the hain, celebrated by the

Body Painting and Visual Practice


Selk’nam. For space reasons, and because of their comparative similarities, the kina and the hain are analysed here. These ceremonies have a number of aspects in common (Bridges 1897; Chapman 1982, 1997; Gusinde 1982 [1931], 1986 [1937]; Koppers 1997 [1924]; Lothrop 1928): 1. they were all celebrated in special, large, purposely built huts (though these had different shapes and different practical and mythical implications); 2. they could last from a few days to several weeks or even months; they were celebrated periodically, though not regularly; 3. they initiated youngsters to adulthood, involving already initiated adults, younger initiands, and sometimes non-initiated individuals who played the role of ‘public’ during some crucial ceremonial performances; 4. they involved the teaching (by already initiated persons) and learning (by the initiands) of mythical knowledge, moral rules, and practical tasks that were considered fundamental for adulthood. The contents learned by the initiands included the access to new and secret knowledge about how body painting and masks were manipulated in order to impersonate mythical spirits, who scared the non-initiated persons outside the ceremonial hut; 5. they required the initiands’ involvement in a series of everyday life tasks (hunting, cooking, gathering wood), as well as in physical ordeals that included fasting, drinking little water, and being scared by (painted and masked) spirits, until finding their true human identity; 6. they involved the display of body painting designs by the already initiated adults and by the initiands, most of which were exclusively worn during each ceremony.

Several processes of image making and display that happened during these ceremonies contributed to the construction of Selk’nam and Yámana social identities at intrasociety and intersociety scales. These are discussed in the following sections.

The Kina The existence of the kina ceremony was firstly reported by T. Bridges (1897), but it was documented by Gusinde (1986:1307) and Koppers (1997), who fostered its celebration to be able to record it. They observed it in 1922 for four days (Koppers 1997:101–08), although Gusinde was told that it could last for several weeks or even months (Gusinde 1986:1293). In 1922, the kina had not been celebrated for about thirty years (Gusinde 1986:1293). Therefore, it is likely that part of this tradition had already been lost and that the information about the ceremony is lacking more than for other ceremonies. The celebration of the kina was based on a myth of origin that stated that in ancient times the Yámana women had celebrated a secret ceremony through which they impersonated several spirits, painting their bodies and masking their faces, and that through such representations


Chapter 11

they controlled the men. The myth stated that after the men discovered the women´s hoax and suppressed them for their actions, they decided to enact a similar ceremony to control the women (see Chapman 1997; Gusinde 1986 for details on this complex myth). For this reason, the men gathered in a secluded hut to prepare their paintings and masks, out of the reach of the women, and then came out of the hut, where the uninitiated people (women, children) became the ‘public’ of such presentations (after Chapman 1982). This preparation and exhibition of the spirits during the hain was the Yámana way of creating a male adult identity at an intrasociety scale (see Fiore 2002b for the gender implications of this process). The Yámana women knew about the true human identity of the kina spirits, and at least in 1922 they did not seem to fear them (Gusinde 1986:1356; Koppers 1997:101–18). Moreover, a few women were invited to the kina hut and were initiated to the ‘secret’ about the masked men’s imposture (ibid.). Although they did not play the roles of spirits, part of the Yámana adult female social identity was constructed through this procedure, insofar as it gave some of them the chance to enter a mainly male arena of ritual knowledge and practice. Although not all of them would be initiated, this possibility opened in the Yámana social structure, an ideal of gender equality that to an extent seems to have reached all women (initiated and uninitiated) in terms of the potential roles they might have access to (though not in terms of the roles they all actually played). In this sense, the initiation of some women to the kina seems to have contributed to the ideological construction of the Yámana women’s as a social identity role. During the kina the men impersonated at least 47 spirits (identified according to the available records; Fiore 2002a:331). The designs painted over the men´s bodies and masks represented different spirits, each of which had in turn a specific referent, including several fish, whales, dolphins, penguins, sea lions, several birds, and so on as well as some mythical beings. Each spirit was represented by a specific design, although some were very similar. According to the kind of referent represented, the designs show some general patterns. For example, fish spirits wore designs that included red semicircles (representing scales) or red vertical dashes, whereas the bird spirits’ designs included dots or horizontal dashes (ibid.). These details may have constituted part of a visual code of identification of the spirits shared by the paintings wearers and viewers, although this potential code is far from straightforward, and the patterns identified include some overlaps and ambiguities (Fiore 2002a:331–38). Moreover, in the 1922 kina the appearance of each spirit was orally announced (Gusinde 1986:1337), which suggests that the visual information may not have been enough to identify each spirit. All this hints at the possibility that

Body Painting and Visual Practice


by 1922 the kina ceremonial knowledge had been partially lost and that in the already declining Yámana society the construction of social identities was not deeply dependent on the kina anymore. The twenty kina photographs show several Yámana men painted and masked for the representation of the spirits. But these photographs also document the deep acculturation that the Yámana people were undergoing through their contact with explorers, missionaries, estate owners, and ethnographers; all the spirits, who were supposed to wear body paintings over their entire bodies, wore instead either a loin-cloth or rolled-up trousers to cover the genitals. This indicates that, unlike the photographs of the late nineteenth century, which show many Yámana men and women entirely naked, in the twentieth century (a) showing the entire naked body (even if covered by paint) and/or (b) getting it photographed was not a cultural choice for the Yámana anymore. Their selection of the body portions to be painted can be read as a ‘physical metaphor’ of the negotiation of the portions of their social identity that were being transformed by acculturation. The effect of acculturation over their identities was already very deep, since the presentation of the partially dressed spirits does not seem to have responded to the photographer’s request (see below) but to their own acceptance of the Western rules regarding nudity. Because social identity is not immutable, body painting was changing as a means of transforming the Yámana identity to its new context: but the metamorphosis was too sudden and too deep, and in few more decades the Yámana world as it had been constituted had ended.

The Hain The hain has been observed and documented by four different authors: an anonymous Salesian missionary (in Belza 1974), L. Bridges (1935, 1951), Gusinde (1951, 1982), who observed in 1923, and Chapman (1982, 1997), who did not observe the ceremony but interviewed Selk’nam participants during the 1960s. The records refer to the celebrations of this ceremony in 1914, 1920, 1923, and 1933. Along with the texts, 49 photographs – most of them taken by Gusinde – record different moments of the hain. The hain was based on a myth of origin that referred to an ancient female ceremony that the women had developed to control the men until they were discovered and punished by them, after which a new (male-dominant) order was established.1 It was an exclusively male ceremony through which youngsters became men. This development of the adult male social identity was partially constructed by access to the secret knowledge that the spirits that appeared during the ceremony


Chapter 11

Figure 11.3 Yámana man painted and masked as a spirit during the kina ceremony; n o t e t h e We s t e r n c l o t h i n g ( p h o t o b y M. Gusinde).

were in fact painted and masked men (see gender implications in Fiore 2002b). Therefore, the discovery of the human identity of the hain spirits, and their later impersonation during this ceremony and in future hains, was directly linked to the formation of the social identity of each Selk’nam man, and of women, by opposition. According to available records, at least fourteen spirits were represented during the hain (Fiore 2002a:345). The women knew that these spirits were in fact men (Chapman 1982:88), but both men and women believed in the true existence of the spirits and engaged deeply in the ceremony events. Such engagement was considerably severe and strong, since, for example, some of the spirits attacked the women, shaking the domestic huts and throwing their possessions outside (for a detailed panorama of the several actions and implications of these performances, see Chapman 1982; Fiore 2005b; Gusinde 1982).

Body Painting and Visual Practice


The spirits wore specific designs that identified them. These designs showed variations but always maintained a compositional structure and included specific motifs that led to their visual identification as a certain spirit and avoided any confusion with the rest of the spirits. The best documented of these is So’orte; this spirit was of paramount importance and appeared several times during each day of the ceremony (Chapman 1982:97). Its basic body painting design consisted of a plain coat of paint (partly or entirely red) that covered the trunk, upper arms, and thighs; big white dots were painted on top of this base, and the calves and lower arms were painted in white. The design was completed with a hoodlike mask called asl, which was painted in the same colour as the body, and usually with a white band across the eyes. This layout has a mythical meaning: it represented a mythical shaman named K’tétu who in ancient times had played the So’orte role perfectly in the first male hain and had later been transformed into a small white owl. The big dots symbolised its feathers, and the white bands around the eyes represented his face/eyes (idem.:100). Within this general design of So’orte, there were several variations. These variations identified the kinship origin of the spirit (and of the man representing the spirit), which corresponded to different ‘skies’, or cardinal points. Consequently, there were seven principal So’ortes: one from the East, one from the West, two from the South, and three from the North (Gusinde 1982:909). According to the written sources, the So’orte designs were painted predominantly with one colour that was specific to the spirit’s ‘sky’ and territorially meaningful: black for North (representing the dark northern waters), red for West (representing the sunset), and white for South (representing the snow); apparently East had no specific colour, and no photographs of East So’orte are available (ibid.; Chapman 1982:84). Yet there are discrepancies between Gusinde’s and Chapman’s identifications of three of the So’orte’s provenance, and neither of their schemes agrees entirely with the colour code suggested in the literature. But the analysis of the available visual data (fourteen photographs of eighteen So’ortes) and their textual descriptions shows some recurring tendencies: the four So’ortes of known ‘sky’/provenance (one from the North, one from the West, two from the South) are predominantly painted or at least half-painted in black, red, and white colours, respectively, bearing a consistency with the colour code mentioned above. Moreover, the visual composition of the designs also varies in terms of kinship/skies, since the Southern So’ortes are painted with designs with predominantly vertical layouts, the Western So’ortes show uniform layouts (with no predominant orientations), and the Northern So’ortes show designs with vertical and with horizontal layouts (Fiore 2002a:350–59).


Chapter 11

Independent information about the effectiveness of this visual (nonverbal) code stems from the fact that the So’ortes were not announced orally but were easily recognised by the Selk’nam ‘public’. Through specific chants, the women could pacify the So’ortes when they were violent but could also call them to parade out of the hain hut: they felt contented when a spirit from their own ‘sky’ paraded (Chapman 1982). All this suggests that this visual form of communication was actively involved in the reproduction of kinship identity of Selk’nam men and women.2 The hain also seems to have been a constitutive factor of the Selk’nam identity on an intersociety scale: some Selk’nam men told Gusinde that their ceremony was superior to the Yámana kina (Gusinde 1982:792, 794). These comments were partially fostered by Gusinde, when he mentioned he had witnessed the Yámana kina in order to convince the Selk’nam to celebrate the hain and let him observe it. Yet they explicitly indicate an element of self-awareness constructed by the Selk’nam in contrast with a different – and undervalued – ‘other’ (the Yámana). Still in the early twentieth century, the Selk’nam were deeply engaged with their ceremonial performances. The first striking intersociety difference is that, like the Yámana, the Selk’nam had adopted Western clothing by the 1920s, but, unlike the Yámana, the Selk’nam men appear entirely naked in all the hain photographs when representing spirits (see discussion in Fiore 2005b). Moreover, the hain was so central to the constitution of Selk’nam identities, that they became aggressive toward Gusinde when he wanted to take a photograph of them while getting painted to represent the spirits. The reason, they claimed, was that this might later reveal the secret to the women and undermine the effects of the ceremony (Gusinde 1986:867–69). This marks another contrast with the Yámana, who did not seem to have any trouble in letting Gusinde take a photograph of them painting their kina masks in the ceremonial hut (the photograph was much later published by Brüggemann [1989:76]). Also, when interviewed by Anne Chapman in the 1960s – when the hain was no longer celebrated—the Selk’nam men expressed that they should not be talking to a woman about it (Chapman 1982 and personal communication 2002). These events suggest that – in the early twentieth century – the two societies regarded their initiation ceremonies with different degrees of intensity, either because the Yámana and Selk’nam attitudes toward male initiations had always been different and/or because acculturation had been deeper in the Yámana society. The hain was a constructive basis of Selk’nam identity, and such identity was partially generated through the contrast between ‘the self’ – qualified here as those who celebrate a superior initiation and paint their naked bodies – and ‘the other’ – those whose initiation is inferior

Figure 11.4 Selk’nam men painted and masked as So’orte spirits during the hain. The differences in the general design mark the kinship identities of these spirits. The man on the left is a So’orte from the North (painted predominantly in black and, in this case, with a horizontal layout). The man in the middle is a So’orte from the West (painted predominantly in red, and with a uniform layout). The man on the right in a So’orte from the South (painted predominantly in white, and with a vertical layout). Note that they are all entirely naked (photos by M. Gusinde).


Chapter 11

and who do not paint their entirely naked bodies. In this way, the relational nature of social identity construction becomes apparent.

Conclusion: Painted Identities At an intrasociety scale, a number of simultaneous processes of identity construction happened during the Selk’nam and Yámana initiation ceremonies. In the first place, the two ceremonies involved the transformation of young males into adult men, thus changing their social identities on the basis of age and gender. Playing new roles involved a development in each individual’s identity, and this process was not only marked but also partially constructed through wearing specific body painting designs and masks. Second, the Yámana kina and the Selk’nam hain involved the symbolic transformation of initiated men into spirits. This implies that, in spite of the differences between the two societies (the Selk’nam being much more male-centred than the Yámana), within each society the construction of male adulthood as a social identity occurred partially through the momentary engagement with a mythical identity. Third, another kind of social identity was produced within the kina and the hain contexts: the spirits were identified according to their visual (painted) appearance. In the case of the Yámana spirits, this visual identification seems to have been mostly related to the representation of specific referents through a visual code, but in the Selk’nam case it also involved the relationship between the spirit’s design and the kinship origin of the wearer of such design. In this latter case, the body painting designs contributed to the construction of social identities that had two parallel symbolic levels tied to two different but linked entities: they referred simultaneously to the spirit’s identity and to the wearer’s and viewer’s kinship identities. Therefore, the processes of identity construction analysed in this chapter are multiple: they are gender-based, age-based, myth-based, and kinship-based. All these involve the creation and display of body painting designs within specific ceremonial contexts that helped put in practice the rites of passage that gave origin to new roles (young initiand – spirit-initiated adult – non-initiated public) and to the development of people’s social identities. At an intersociety scale, the fact that the Selk’nam and Yámana body painting repertoires were different suggests that they may have functioned as identity markers. Yet such potential function is only inferential and lies more within the academic arena – as a case of ‘identity ascription by others’ – than within the indigenous ‘self-ascription’ arena. But body painting did play a role in the self-definition of what

Body Painting and Visual Practice


it meant to be Yámana or Selk’nam. This is partly evident by the judgmental comments made by the Selk’nam about the Yámana kina. Also, the different roles given to women in each ceremony, and the disparate effects of acculturation on each nation’s ceremonial body painting, suggest that social identity was being reproduced, transformed, and negotiated differently through body painting display by the Selk’nam than by the Yámana. This last point is further emphasised by the fact that the same ethnographer (that is, M. Gusinde) photographed the two groups; hence the different trends identified in this chapter do not seem attributable to his biases but to the peoples’ own identities. It is clear that some of the characterisations of the Fuegian social identities stem from the interests and the perspectives of the archaeologist carrying out their study. But these inferences are also based on the products of Fuegian people, who left visual – and visible – marks of their identities in their ephemeral body paintings and in the photographs that record them.

Acknowledgments I am very grateful to Stephen Shennan for his dedicated supervision during my PhD, as I developed the core of the data studied in this paper, and to Jeremy Tanner and Bill Sillar for their comments during that time. After I finished my thesis, the three of them led in different ways to my rethinking of the Fuegian cases in the new light of social identity issues. I also wish to express my gratitude to Luis Orquera for his stimulating comments, generous support, and constant encouragement in my research work. I am especially grateful to Claire Smith for introducing me to Inés and Sally, and to them for their generous invitation to coedit this book. I am also very grateful to Mark Leone and an anonymous referee for their useful comments on this chapter and again to Claire and Sally for kindly reviewing the English. Any faults in this chapter remain exclusively my own.

Endnotes 1. For discussions about the origin and similarities between these two ceremonies see Gusinde (1982, 1986), Chapman (1982, 1997), Koppers (1991), Fiore (2005a). This debate will not be followed here since it falls out of the scope of this chapter. 2. Other events during the hain also clearly point toward the production and reproduction of kinship identity, such as the kewanix dances during which painted designs known as tari were worn by men and women (Chapman 1982; Fiore 2002; Gusinde 1986). Owing to space limitations these highly complex designs will not be analysed here.


Chapter 11

References Alvarez, A. 2000. Crónica de la Patagonia y tierras australes: Desde el descubrimiento hasta la colonización. Ushuaia: Zagier and Urruty. Banks, J. 1962. Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks 1768–1771. Sydney: Halstead Press. Barclay, W. 1926. The Land of Magellan. London: Methuen. Barth, F. 1969 Ethnic Groups and Boundaries. London: Unwin. Beauvoir, H. M. 1915. Los Selknam: Indigenas de la Tierra del Fuego. Sus Tradiciones, Costumbres y Lengua. Buenos Aires: Tipografía Salesiana de Artes y Oficios. Belza, J. 1974 [1914]. ‘Acta Indiorum: Original text of anonymous Salesian missionary’, Karukinka 9:iii–xii. Binford, L.R. 1986. ‘In pursuit of the future’. In J. Meltzer, D. Fowler, and J. Sabloff (eds.), American Archaeology: Past and Future. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 459–79. Bonfil, G. 1972. ‘El concepto de indio en América: Una categoría de la situación colonial’, Anales de Antropología 9:105–21. Borgatello, M. 1929 Patagonia Meridionale e Terra del Fuoco. Torino: Societa Editrice Internazionale. Borrero, J. M. 1957. La Patagonia Trágica. Buenos Aires; Americana. Borrero, L. A. 1991. Los Selk’nam: Su Evolución Cultural. Buenos Aires: Búsqueda-Yuchan. Bridges, T. 1893. ‘La Tierra del Fuego y sus habitantes’, Boletín del Intituto Geográfico Argentino XV(5–8):221–41. ———. 1897. An Account of Tierra del Fuego (Fireland), Its Natives and Their Languages. Unpublished manuscript, document held at the Royal Geographical Society, copy held by R. N. P de Goodall ———. 1933. Yámana-English Dictionary. Manuscript finished around 1879. Mödling: F. Hestermann and M. Gusinde. Bridges, L. 1935. ‘Supersticiones de los Onas’, Argentina Austral 73:33–39. ———. 1951. Uttermost Part of the Earth. London: Hodder and Stronghton. Brüggemann, A. 1989. Der Travernde Blick: Martin Gusindes Fotos der Letzten FeuerlandIndianer. Frankfurt: Museum für Volkerkunde. Bourdieu, P. 1977. Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Bunge, M. 1983. La Investigación Científica. Barcelona: Ariel. Chapman, A. 1982. Drama and Power in a Hunting Society: The Selk’nam of Tierra del Fuego. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ———. 1997. ‘The great ceremonies of the Selk’nam and the Yámana: A comparative analysis’. In C. McEwan, L. Borrero, and A. Prieto (eds.), Patagonia: Natural History, Prehistory and Ethnography in the Uttermost End of the World. London: British Museum Press, 82–109. Chapman, A., C. Barthe, and P. Revol 1995. Cap Horn 1882–1883: Rencontre avec les Indiens Yahgan (Collection de la Photothèque du Musèe de l´Homme). Paris: Editions de la Mardtinière, Museum National d´Histoire Naturelle y Photothèque du Musèe de l´Homme. Cooper, J. M. 1917. Analytical and Critical Bibliography of the Tribes of Tierra del Fuego and Adjacent Territory. Bureau of American Ethnology. Bulletin 63. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. Darwin, C. 1839. Journal and Remarks (1832–1836): Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty’s Ships Adventure and Beagle between the Years 1826 and 1836 (Vol. III). London: Henry Colburn. ———. 1845. Journal of Researches in Natural History and Geology of the Countries Visited during the Voyage of HMS Beagle Round the World under the Command of Capt. Fitz-Roy (R.N.). London: Henry Colburn, (2nd ed.). De Agostini, A. 1924. I miei viaggi nella Terra del Fuoco. Milan: Societa Salesiana.

Body Painting and Visual Practice


Despard, G. P. 1857–1861. ‘Letters and fragments of his journal’, published in The Voice of Pitty for South America, IV–VIII. Díaz, H. 1981. ‘Etnía, clase y cuestión nacional’, Revista Mexicana de Ciencias Políticas y Sociales XXVII(103):101–20. ———. 1984. ‘Notas teórico-metodológicas para el estudio de la cuestión étnica’, Boletín de Antropología Americana 10:45–52. Faris, J. 1972. Nuba Personal Art. London: Duckworth. Fiore, D. 2002a. Body Painting in Tierra del Fuego: The Power of Images in the Uttermost Part of the World. Unpublished PhD Thesis, University of London, University College London, Institute of Archaeology. ———. 2002b. In press. ‘Painted genders: The construction of gender roles through the display of body painting by the Selk’nam and the Yámana from Tierra del Fuego (southern South America)’. In R. Whitehouse, S. Hamilton, and K. Wright (eds.), Women and Archaeology. Walnut Grove, CA: Left Coast Press. ———. 2004. ‘Pieles rojas en el confín del mundo: La valoración de las pinturas corporales en los registros histórico-etnográficos sobre aborígenes de Tierra del Fuego’, Magallania 31:229–55. ———. 2005a. ‘Pinturas corporales en el fin del mundo: Una introducción al arte visual Selk’nam y Yámana’, Chungara Revista de Antropología Chilena 37(2):109–27. ———. 2005b. ‘Fotografía y pintura corporal en Tierra del Fuego: un encuentro de subjetividades’, Revista Chilena de Antropología Visual 6:55–73. ———. 2005c. ‘Social images through visual images: The use of drawings and photographs in the Western representation of the aborigines of Tierra del Fuego (southern South America)’. In B. Sillar and C. Fforde (eds.), Public Archaeology 4:169–82. ———. 2006. ‘La manipulación de pinturas corporales como factor de división social en las sociedades Selk’nam y Yámana (Tierra del Fuego)’. In A. Nielson (ed.), Estudios Atacameños 31. San Pedro de Atacama: Universidad Católica de Chile, 129–42. Fitz-Roy, R. 1839. ‘Proceedings of the second expedition (1831–1836) under the command of Captain Robert Fitz-Roy (R.N.)’. In H. Colburn (ed.), Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty’s Ships Adventure and Beagle between the Years 1826–1836 (Vol II). London. Forster, G. 1777. Voyage Round the World in HBS sloop Resolution Commanded by Capt. James Cook during the Years 1772–1773–1774 and 1775. London: B. White, J. Robson, P. Elmsly, and G. Robinson. Furlong, C. W. 1917. ‘Tribal distribution and settlements of the Fuegians: Comprising nomenclature, etymology, philology and populations’, The Geographical Review 3(3):169–87. Gallardo, C. 1910. Los Onas. Buenos Aires: Zagier and Urruty. Gusinde, M. 1920. ‘Expedición a la Tierra del Fuego (informe del Jefe de Sección)’, Publicaciones del Museo de Etnología y Antropología de Chile II(1):9–43. ———. 1923. ‘Expedición a la Tierra del Fuego (informe del Jefe de Sección)’, Publicaciones del Museo de Etnología y Antropología de Chile II(3):417–36. ———. 1931. Die Feuerland Indianer. Band I: Die Selk’nam. Mödling: Anthropos. ———. 1937. Die Feuerland Indianer. Band II: Die Yámana. Mödling: Anthropos. ———. 1939. Die Feuerland Indianer. Band IV: Physical Anthropology. Mödling: Anthropos. ———. 1951. Fueguinos: Hombres Primitivos en la Tierra del Fuego (de Investigador a Compañero de Tribu). Sevilla: Escuela de Estudios Hispanoamericanos (serie 3, no 5). ———. 1974. Die Feuerland Indianer. Band III: Die Alacaluf. Mödling: Anthropos. ———. 1982. Los Indios de Tierra del Fuego: Los Selk’nam. 1. (1 & 2). Buenos Aires: CAEA. ———. 1986. Los Indios de Tierra del Fuego: Los Yámana. 2. (1, 2 & 3). Buenos Aires: CAEA. ———. 1989. Los Indios de Tierra del Fuego: Antropología Biológica. 4. Buenos Aires: CAEA.


Chapter 11

Gusinde, M. 1991. Los Indios de Tierra del Fuego: Los Halakwulup. 3 (1 & 2). Buenos Aires: CAEA. Hyades, P., and J. Deniker. 1891. Mission Scientifique du Cap Horn (1882–1883) (Vol. 7). Anthropology and Ethnography. Paris. Koppers, W. 1924. Unter Feuerland-Indianer: Eine Forschungsreise zu den Südlichsten Bewohnern der Erde mit M. Gusinde. Stuttgart: Strecker und Schroder. ———. 1997. Entre los Fueguinos. Punta Arenas: Universidad de Magallanes and Programa Chile Austral de la Unión Europea. Layton, R. 1989. ‘The political use of Australian Aboriginal body painting and its archaeological implications’. In I. Hodder (ed.), The Meanings of Thing: Material Culture and Symbolic Expression. London: Harper Collins Academic, 1–11. Lévi-Strauss, C. 1982 The way of the masks. Seattle: University of Washington Press. Lista, R. 1887. Viaje al País de los Onas. Buenos Aires: Establecimiento tipográfico de Alberto Núñez. Lothrop S. K. 1928. The Indians of Tierra del Fuego. Museum of American Indian. Contributions 10. New York: Heye Foundation. Martial, L. F. 1888. Mission Scientifique du Cap Horn (1882–1883) (Vol. 1). Paris:Histoire du voyage. Massone, M., A. Prieto, D. Jackson, G. Cárdenas, M. Arroyo, and P. Cárdenas. 1998. ‘Los cazadores tempranos y sus fogatas: Una nueva historia para la Cueva Tres Arroyos 1, Tierra del Fuego’, Boletín de la Sociedad Chilena de Arqueología, 2:11–18. O’Connell, J. F. 1995. ‘Ethnoarchaeology needs a general theory of behavior’, Journal of Archaeological Research 3(3):205–55. Orquera, L. A., and E. L. Piana. 1999a. La Vida Material y Social de los Yámana. Buenos Aires: EUDEBA. ———. 1999b. Arqueología de la Región del Canal Beagle (Tierra del Fuego, República Argentina). Buenos Aires: Publicaciones de la Sociedad Argentina de Antropología. Parker Snow, W. 1857. A Two-Year’s Cruise off Tierra del Fuego, the Falkland Islands, Patagonia and in the River Plate (a narrative of life in the southern seas). London. Popper, J. 1887. ‘Exploración de la Tierra del Fuego’, Boletín del Instituto Geográfico Argentino VIII:74–93, 97–115. Sarmiento, P. 1950. Viajes al Estrecho de Magallanes (1579–1584). Buenos Aires: Emecé. Segers, P. 1891. ‘Tierra del Fuego: Hábitos y costumbres de los indios Aonas’, Boletín del Instituto Geográfico Argentino XII:56–82. Shennan, S. 1989. ‘Introduction: Archaeological approaches to cultural identity’. In S. Shennan (ed.), Introduction: Archaeological Approaches to Cultural Identity. London: Rouledge, 1–32. Spegazzini, C. 1882. ‘Costumbres de los habitantes de la Tierra del Fuego’, Anales de la Sociedad Científica Argentina XIV:159–81. Spencer, W. B. 1951. ‘Journal of the expedition to Tierra del Fuego’. In R. R. Marett and T. K. Penniman (eds.), Spencer’s Last Journey, Being the Journal of an Expedition to Tierra del Fuego by the Late Baldwin Spencer, with a Memoir. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 47–108. Stambuk, P. 1986. Rosa Yagán: El último Eslabón. Santiago: Andrés Bello. Stirling, W. H. 1863–1865. Letters published in A Voice for South America, X–XII. London. Strathern, A., and M. Strathern. 1971. Self-Decoration in Mount Hagen. London: Duckworth. Turner, T. 1980. ‘The social skin’. In J. Cherfas and R. Lewin (eds.), Not Work Alone: A CrossCultural View of Activities Superfluous to Survival. London: Temple Smith, 112–40. Wiessner, P. 1983. ‘Style and social information in Kalahari San projectile points’, American Antiquity 48:253–76.

About the Contributors

WAYNE BRENNAN studied prehistory and anthropology at the University of Houston, Texas, where in 1973 he obtained a scholarship with his identical twin brother. He has worked with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service for over twenty years as a part-time community relations/education officer and firefighter. Wayne has also worked as a consultant archaeologist for the past fifteen years throughout NSW and is currently studying at the University of New England, Armidale, specializing in Australian Aboriginal rock art. Through his work with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, he has conducted workshops and seminars on cultural heritage management, interpretation, and the conservation of cultural features for Aboriginal communities specifically requiring expertise in protected area management and comanagement. He has been codirector of the Blue Mountains Rock Art Project for the last eight years and has a particular passion and commitment to the recording and protection of the cultural features of the Wollemi National Park in the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. INÉS DOMINGO SANZ is postdoctoral fellow at Flinders University (Adelaide, Australia), supported by an Excellence Post-Doctoral Fellowship from the Generalitat Valenciana. She is a graduate (1998) and doctor in history (2005), Universitat de València (Spain) (with an area of expertise in prehistory and archaeology), where she received the Doctorate Extraordinary Award in 2006. She completed two months as a visiting scholar at the Departments of Anthropology, University of California (Berkeley) in 2001, and Archaeology, Flinders University (Adelaide, Australia) in 2002. Her research in Australia focuses on the territorial and social aspects of Aboriginal rock art from Arnhem Land, in collaboration with Dr. Claire Smith. In Spain, she focuses on style and digital recording of Levantine rock art, in collaboration with Dr. Valentin Villaverde (Universitat de València) and the Instituto de Arte Rupestre. This research has been reflected in several papers and monographic publications. DA´ NAE FIORE is a full-time researcher at CONICET (National Council of Scientific Research, Argentina), and a part-time lecturer at UBA (Universidad de Buenos Aires). Her main research interests are centred on the analysis of rock art, portable art, and body art through technical, socioeconomic, and visual-cognitive perspectives. She has studied 267


About the Contributors

at the Universidad de Buenos Aires (Licenciatura en Arqueología and Profesorado en Antropología) and has completed an M.A. and a Ph.D. in archaeology at UCL (University College London). She has published several papers in peer-reviewed journals in Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Great Britain, Italy, Chile, the United States, and Australia. She has recently coedited (with M. M. Podestá) a book on rock art production and uses: Tramas en la Piedra: Producción y usos del arte rupestre (jointly published by WAC and AINA, 2006). Her current research topics are the macroscopic and microscopic analysis of the techniques of decoration of bone artefacts from sites from Tierra del Fuego (southern South America), the analysis of pigment and paint residues in these sites, the systematic study of ethnographic photographs of indigenous societies of Tierra del Fuego, and the analysis of spatial and temporal distribution of rock art techniques and motifs in Patagonia. FRANCISCO GALLARDO is a graduate in archaeology from the Department of Anthropology, University of Chile. Since 1994, he has been a researcher at the Museo Chileno de arte Precolombino, Bandera 361, Santiago de Chile. The author is responsible for several projects in northern Chile and visual culture funded by the National Fund for Science and Technology (FONDECYT). His research has focused on Chilean regional prehistory, visual anthropology, rock art, social archaeology, and pre-Columbian art. His publications include articles in journals such as World Archaeology, Latin American Antiquity, Chungara, Estudios Atacameños, and Boletín del Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino. MARCOS GARCÍA DIEZ is a graduate in history, University of Basque Country (Spain), and in the School of Archaeology, University of Deusto (Spain) in 1996. During 1999 and 2000, he worked as technical archaeologist in the National Center of Rock Art (Portugal), documenting and studying the rock art of the Côa Valley. He has a doctorate in prehistory, University of Basque Country (Spain) (2002); was postdoctoral fellow in the Institute of Archaeology of Brno (Academy of the Czech Sciences, Czech Republic) for two years (2002–2004) and carried out the study of the collections of Gravettian portable art of Dolní Vestonice and Pavlov sites. He now works as technical coordinator of the cultural management of the rock art caves of Cantabria (Spain). MICHELE H. HAYWARD graduated with a doctorate degree from The Pennsylvania State University in 1986 and is currently a Senior Archaeologist with Panamerican Consultants, Inc. She has been involved with a variety of archaeological projects in the United States and the Caribbean. Her interest in Caribbean rock graphics began shortly after graduation as an archaeologist with the Institute of Puerto

About the Contributors


Rican Culture and has grown to include rock graphic site documentation, coauthorship of a book on Puerto Rican rock images, as well as organizing and participating in national and international sessions on Caribbean rock images. MATTHEW KELLEHER is a director of an archaeological consulting company in Sydney, Australia. His research interests include statistical and spatial analysis and especially the relationship between material cultural behaviour and geography. His doctoral research at the University of Sydney focused on the theoretical and methodological approaches to the archaeology of religion and spatial behaviour with a thesis titled ‘Archaeology of Sacred Space: The Spatial Nature of Religious Behaviour’. Matthew is currently involved in archaeological research programs encompassing the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and has completed field research on six continents. GRAHAME DAVIS KING was born in 1976 and spent his childhood in Redfern and the inner west of Sydney. His mother is Ada King from the Ngyampaa and Wiradjari peoples, and his father is Sid Davis from Gosford. He has over thirty years’ Aboriginal dance experience and over twenty years’ Aboriginal storytelling and cultural education with radio stations 2RSR, 2SER in Sydney and 2x in Canberra. He has also studied Aboriginal languages at the Australian National University and is currently a part-time student at Macquarie University and resident artist at the College of Fine Arts in Sydney. Grahame currently lives in the Blue Mountains and is a key researcher and field operative for the Blue Mountains Rock Art Project. TILMAN LENSSEN-ERZ studied prehistory and African studies. Since 1986, he is head of rock art research at the African Research Unit at the University of Cologne, Germany, with the main objective of compiling and editing the six volumes of H. Pager’s The Rock Paintings of the Upper Brandberg. From the beginning, his research has focused on the spatial context and landscape as well as on models of communication; other focal points were ecology of rock art, gender issues, and empirical methodology. More recently, the scope of research widened to include ice age art, the Sahara and also to provide training for local guides in community-based tourism. LUÍS LUÍS is a graduate of Coimbra’s University, Letters Faculty; he also has a Masters in archaeology from the same university. Luís is archaeologist of the Côa Valley Archaeological Park since 2000, where he has collaborated in the research programme of the rock art Palaeolithic context, directed by Thierry Aubry, and has published papers on the


About the Contributors

political context of the Côa Valley findings and the graphic activity of the last Côa Valley engravers. SALLY K. MAY is an Australian Research Council postdoctoral fellow in the Centre for Public Culture and Ideas, Griffith University, Queensland, Australia. She was formerly a lecturer in the Department of Archaeology at Flinders University of South Australia. She has worked with the Kunbarlanja community in western Arnhem Land for seven years and with them initiated a variety of projects including the Kunbarlanja Oral Histories Project and the Injalak Hill Rock Art Recording Project. Sally has taught university classes relating to archaeological field methods, Indigenous Australian archaeology, ethnoarchaeology, the archaeology of art, among other topics, and she also runs a rock art field school each year in Gunbalanya. In addition, Sally has published on scientific expeditions to Arnhem Land, museum collections, and repatriation. Sally received her Ph.D. from the Australian National University in 2006. EUGENIA ROBINSON has been the director of the Proyecto Arqueólogico del Area Kaqchikel (PAAK) for twenty-five years, the goal of which has been to survey the Kaqchikel speaking area and excavate regional centers. Recently, she and a team of investigators recorded the images at La Casa de las Golondrinas and carried out archaeological investigations and chronological testing at the site and its environs. She has a Ph.D. from Tulane University and is a professor of anthropology at Montgomery College, Rockville, Maryland. PETER G. ROE received his doctorate in 1973 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and holds a professorship in anthropology at the University of Delaware in Newark, New Jersey. He has conducted ethnographic fieldwork among the northern South American Peruvian Shipibo and Guianan Waiwai groups complemented by archaeological investigations of prehistoric South American and Caribbean cultures. Roe has taught graduate-level courses in Puerto Rico, in addition to documenting several rock art sites on the island. His strong ethnographic and artistic background informs his concepts and writings about the relationship among ideology, social structure, and material culture in general and rock art in particular. CLAIRE SMITH is associate professor in archaeology at Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia. She is President of the World Archaeological Congress. Her primary research interests are in Australian archaeology, especially rock art. She has conducted field research with Indigenous communities in Australia, Asia, and North America; however, she works mostly with Indigenous people from the Barunga region of the

About the Contributors


Northern Territory and with Ngadjuri people from South Australia. Claire is a Series Editor for the Indigenous Archaeologies Series, with Left Coast Press, and the Global Cultural Heritage Manual Series, with Springer. Her recent publications include Country, Kin and Culture: Survival of an Australian Aboriginal Community (Wakefield Press); Indigenous Archaeologies: Decolonising Theory and Practice, coedited by H. Martin Wobst (Routledge); and Digging It Up Down Under: A Practical Guide to Doing Archaeology in Australia, coauthored by Heather Burke (Springer). PATRICIO DE SOUZA has studied archaeology at Universidad de Chile and Universidad Católica del Norte (Chile) and is an associate researcher at the Instituto de Investigaciones Arqueológicas y Museo de la Universidad Católica del Norte, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. His research has focused on technology, settlement systems, and social practices of hunter-gatherers and early pastoralist-agrarian societies in the highlands of the Atacama Desert. He has conducted fieldwork in the Loa river and Tulan quebrada, northern Chile. His publications include articles in journals such as Latin American Antiquity, Bulletin de I´Institut Français d´Études Andines, Complutum, Chungara, and Estudios Atacameños. PAUL S. C. TAÇON is professor of anthropology in the School of Arts, Griffith University, Queensland, Australia. Joining Griffith in 2005, he leads The Eagleandowl Research Network. He was based at the Australian Museum, Sydney, from early 1991, and was Principal Research Scientist in anthropology from mid-1998 to early 2005. He has conducted archaeological and ethnographic fieldwork since 1980, with over sixty-five months’ field experience in remote parts of Australia, Canada, Myanmar, southern Africa, and elsewhere. Professor Taçon has coedited three books and published over 130 academic and popular papers on prehistoric art, body art, material culture, colour, cultural evolution, identity, and contemporary Indigenous issues.


Barclay, W., 250 bark paintings, 172, 174–177, 189, 226; stories in, 177; and trade, 175–176; X-ray, 173, 176–177 Barnard, A., 43, 44 Barth, F., 21, 59, 245 Barthel, T., 94n2 Batres, L., 131 Beaubien, H., 145 Beauvoir, H. M., 250 Beltrán, A., 102 Belza, J., 252, 257 Benavente, M., 83, 84 Benveniste, E., 89 Berdan, F., 136 Berenguer, J., 85, 87, 93, 94n2 Berger, P. L., 151 Bernabeu, J., 100 Berndt, C. H., 31 Berndt, R. M., 31, 176 Biesele, M., 41, 42 ‘Big-Man’ politics, 56 Binford, L. R., 23, 247 Blasco, M. C., 102 Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, 197–199 Blumer, H., 151 Boast, R., 99 body art, 21; in Tierra del Fuego, 243–263; uses, 252. See also body painting, motifs, written record body painting, ceremonial, 254–262. See also body art, motifs Bonfil [Batalla], G., 24, 245 Boone, E., 134, 141 Borg, B., 135 Borgatello, M., 250 Borrero, L. A., 251, 252 Bourdieu, P., 82, 103, 218, 219, 245, 246

Adams, A., 137 agricultural settlement, 83–85, 92–93 Aguilar, M., 139 Alegría, R. E., 51, 52, 73 Almagro, M., 102 Alonso, A., 102 Althusser, L., 81 Altman, J., 176 Alvarado Zayas, P. A., 51 Alvarez, A., 249 Amit, V., 171 Anati, E., 15 Anderson, R. L., 61 Anderson-Córdova, K. F., 74 Anschuetz, K. F., 30, 134, 137 Aragonés, J. I., 151 archaeologies, plurality in, 16–17 archaeology: of ethnographic record, 246–248; as politics, 70–75; vs. archaeologies, 16–17 art: as communication, 217; and education, 180–182; as income, 235, 238; and place, 20–22; relative dating, 19–20; and social identity, 18–19, 238 Ashmore, W., 131, 134 Ashmore, W., 137, 145 assertive style, 61–62 Atacama Desert, rock art in, 79–95 Aubry, T., 152, 157, 158, 159 Aura, E., 100, 102 Australian Aboriginal art, 171–193, 195–212, 215–239 authorship, marks of, 17–19 Bahn, P., 19, 20, 22, 43, 99, 165 Bailey, G., 16, 59 Banks, J., 250 Baptista, A. M., 152, 153, 155, 156, 157, 158, 159, 160, 161, 162, 164, 165, 166 273



Bowler, J. M., 206 Bradley, R., 21, 30, 38, 199 Brady, J., 137, 139 Brandberg/Daureb, 31–34, 32, 33, 36, 36–45, 44 Brandl, E., 173 Braswell, G., 135, 136, 137 Breckell, M., 198 Brennan, W., 267 Breuil, H., 102 Breunig, P., 31, 34, 35 Bridges, L., 250, 252, 257 Bridges, T., 252, 255 Brody, A., 174, 175 Bunge, M., 247 Burke, H., 21 Cabré, J., 102 Campbell, L., 135 Carr, C., 21, 22, 99 Carr, S., 145 Carrington, F., 174, 175 Carroll, P., 174, 175 Cartajena, I., 79, 83, 84 Caruana, W., 229 Carvalho, M., 165 Caso, A., 144 Castro, V., 82 Catalá, E., 100 Chajoma, 135, 136 Chaloupka, G., 19, 173, 174 Chapman, A., 251, 252, 253, 255, 256, 257, 258, 259, 260 Chippindale, C., 21, 30, 35, 160, 161, 173, 177 Cinquino, M. A., 51, 52, 55, 56, 62, 63, 64 Clegg, J., 198 Clottes, J., 20, 99 Côa Valley rock art, 151–168 Colson, E., 31, 38 Confluencia style, 79, 80, 86, 86–94, 94n2 Conkey, M., 15, 22, 82, 99, 215, 217, 218, 221 contemporary painting, 172–174

Cook, J., 250 Cooper, J. M., 243 Coward, R., 218 Cox, J. C., 175 cultural hybrid vigor, 68–69 Cunningham, C., 198 Custred, G., 90 D’Andrade, R., 219 Darwin, C., 250 dating, 158, 173–174; radiocarbon, 19, 53, 133, 158 Davies, S., 175 Davis, S., 156 Davis, W., 221 De Agostini, A., 250, 253 De Souza, P., 18, 20, 22, 24, 83, 85, 90, 271 Deacon, J., 46 DeBoer, W., 218, 221 Deive, C. E., 68 Deniker, J., 250, 253 DeScioli, P., 63 Despard, G., 250 Diamond, J., 65 Diaz [Polanco], H., 24, 245 Dietler, M., 23 Dillehay, T., 79 discourse, 34–36, 40, 44–45 Dobres, M. A., 24 Dodson, M., 180 Domingo Sanz, I., 18, 20, 22, 23, 24, 267 Domingo, I., 19, 23, 102, 103, 105, 124 Downs, R. M., 35 Dowson, T., 30 Dubelaar, C. N., 51, 52, 62, 63, 64 Eco, U., 45 Eichholz, D. W., 67 Elkin, D., 79, 83, 84 Ellis, J., 218 emic perspective, 17, 19, 235 Engelmark, R., 21 Engels, F., 81

Index engraving, 156–157, 163 Ericastilla, S., 131 Erz, M. T., 31, 36 ethnicity, 59–61; and rock art, 62–75, 189 ethnographic record, 246–249 etic perspective, 17, 19 Faris, J., 21, 219, 246 Faulstich, P., 31 Ferrer, P., 100 Fiore, D., 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 243, 248, 251, 252, 253, 256, 258, 259, 260, 267 Fitz-Roy, R., 250 Flood, J., 173 Forster, G., 250 Fortea, F. J., 20, 99, 100, 102 Francis, J., 139 Furlong, C. W., 250 Galiana, Ma. F., 102, 160 Gallardo, C., 250 Gallardo, F., 18, 20, 22, 24, 79, 82, 85, 86, 87, 89, 95n3, 268 Gamble, C., 82, 93, 215 Garcia Canclini, N., 16 García Díez, M., 18, 20, 24, 152, 153, 158, 160, 161, 166, 168, 268 García-Puchol, O., 100 García-Robles, Ma. R., 100 Geertz, C., 219 Giddens, A., 218 Gil-Romera, G., 46 Giuliani, P., 174 Gomes, M. V., 153, 160, 161 Gonçalves, M. E., 165 González Colón, J., 67 González, A. R., 19 González, J., 87 Gosden, C., 16 Gosselain, O. P., 23, 126 Gradin, C., 19 Gramsci, A., 82 Greer, S., 171, 177 Grimal, A., 102


Grove, D., 137 Guenther, M., 42 Gusinde, M., 243, 250, 251, 252, 255, 256, 257, 258, 259, 260, 263 Guy, E., 156 habitus, 219 Haley, B. D., 172 Hassard, J., 221 Hastorf, C., 16, 22, 99 Hayward, M. H., 18, 23, 24, 25, 51, 52, 55, 56, 62, 63, 64, 268 Hegmon, M., 99 Herbich, I., 23 Hernández, M., 100, 102 Hernando, A., 17 Hill, R., 131, 135, 136, 138, 145 Hodder, I., 22, 81, 82, 103, 219, 233 Holden, T., 83 hunter-gatherers, 55–56, 79, 92, 93, 100, 166, 243 Hurlbutt, T. S., 30 Hyades, P., 250 Hyndman, D. C., 35 identity: group, 62–75, 102–103, 171, 172, 177, 192, 234–237, 245; individual, 102–103, 151, 171, 172, 192, 195–196, 222–234, 260; place, 151, 192; social, 18–19, 79, 81–82, 85, 92, 94, 124, 151, 166, 199, 208–211, 215–239, 243–245, 262–263 ideology: of rock art, 81–82, 90–91, 93, 166 Jahnke, L., 140 Johnson, M. H., 219 Jones, R., 173 Jones, S., 17, 82 Jones, W. T., 62 Jorge, V. O., 165 Juan-Cabanilles, J., 100 Kalina style, 93 Kappelman, J., 132, 138



Kaqchikel, 131, 134–136; Spanish conquest, 135 Kaufman, T., 135 Kelleher, M., 18, 24, 198, 199, 201, 269 Keyser, J. D., 19, 30 Kinahan, J., 35 King, G., 18, 24, 269 Koontz, R. A., 137 Koppers, W., 250, 252, 255, 256 Kunbarlanja art, 171–193 Künne, M., 139 Lancaster, N., 46 landscape, 34–36, 100, 104, 134–139, 151–152; ethnic, 134–137; ritual, 137–139, 146, 208. See also place Larsson, T. B., 21 Law, J., 221 Lawlor, R., 31 Layton, R., 16, 17, 23, 30, 34, 104, 221, 246 Lechtman, H., 23 Lenssen-Erz, T., 21, 31, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 40, 41, 42, 43, 45, 46, 269 Leone, M., 81 Leroi-Gourhan, A., 16, 19, 23, 103, 104, 105, 106 Levantine rock art, 99–126; typology of human figures in, 107–115 Lévi-Strauss, C., 62, 246 Lewis, D., 173 Lewis-Williams, D., 30, 34, 82 Liebenberg, L., 38 Lippi, R. D., 63 Lista, R., 250 Llagostera, M., 94n2 Loendorf, L., 139 López-Montalvo, E., 105 Lorblanchet, M., 19, 22, 99, 152 Lothrop, S. K., 250, 252, 255 Luckmann, T., 34, 151 Luís, L., 18, 20, 24, 153, 160, 161, 165, 168, 269 Lutz, C., 131

Macdonald, W., 24, 215, 222, 237 Malinowski, B., 172 Manakgu, J., 182 Mangado Llach, X., 159 Maralgurra, G., 181 Marshall, L., 31, 35, 39, 42 Marshall-Thomas, E., 41 Martí, B., 100, 102 Martial, L. F., 250 Martínez, J., 21 Martínez, R., 100, 102 Marx, K., 81 Maslow, A., 35, 46 material culture, 30, 66, 81, 245, 248, 249 Mathews, R. H., 206 Maxwell, J., 138 May, S. K., 18, 22, 24, 174, 178, 182, 270 Maynard, L., 198 McCafferty, G., 146 McCafferty, S., 132, 138, 146 McCarthy, F. D., 198 McDonald, J., 198, 199, 202 McMah, L., 198 Mead, S. M., 221 Mercier, N., 158 middens, 55, 56 Milbrath, S., 146 Miller, M., 132, 140, 143, 144 Mills, G., 36 Minar, D. W., 171, 177 Miner Solá, E., 74 Miranda, P., 82 Mitchell, J. P., 34 mobility, 38–39 modern rock art, 159–164, 168 Molina, L., 100 Montt, I., 87 Morphy, H., 171, 179, 180, 192, 218, 219, 238 motifs: in body art, 253–254, 256, 259; in rock art, 106, 122–126, 137–142, 154–156, 160, 163–164, 189–192, 195–197, 200–204, 225

Index Nagurrgurrba, I., 182 Nance, R., 135 Nash, G., 21, 30, 35 Navarette, C., 136 Neitzel, J. E., 21, 22, 99 Neubig, J., 45 Newsom, L. A., 55, 56 Nganjmirra, B., 191 Nganjmirra, J., 182–184 NSW Legislative Assembly Hansard, 208 Núñez, L., 79, 83, 84, 85, 93, 94n2 O’Connell, J. F., 247 Obermaier, H., 102 Officer, K. L. C., 198 Oliver, J. R., 52 Olivera, D., 79, 83, 84 Orquera, L. A., 251, 252 Ortner, S., 218 Pager, H., 31, 36 panache, 216, 225–226, 229, 237 Parker Snow, W., 250 Parkington, J., 36 Peoples, J., 59 Pereira, E., 62 petroglyphs, 51, 52, 57, 66; and ethnicity, 62–66; subject matter of, 52, 66. See also rock art Pettitt, P., 20, 99 photographs, as ethnographic record, 248–249 Piana, E. L., 251, 252 Picó, R., 51 pictographs, 51, 63–64, 66. See also rock art Piñón, F., 102 place, power of, 34–36, 44, 105, 137–138, 172, 192, 196, 198–199, 208 Plog, S., 82, 99 Poetschat, G., 30 Poplin, D. E., 171, 177 Popper, J., 250 Pritchard, E., 59


Proshansky, H. M., 151 protocol, 216, 225, 237 Puripica style, 93 radiocarbon dating, 19, 53, 133 Rainey, F., 73 Rapport, N., 171 Rebanda, N., 164 Recinos, A., 131 Rees, C., 83 Reese-Taylor, K., 137 relative dating, 19–20, 56–57, 58, 115 Richter, J., 31, 34 Ricoeur, P., 29–30 Ridley, B. K., 16 Ripoll, E., 102 ritual sites, 40–41, 51, 66–67, 131, 137–139, 206 Rivera Fontán, J. A., 67 Rivera, J., 56, 57, 63, 64 Roberts, R. G., 173 Robinson, E. J., 18, 20, 21, 135, 136, 139, 141, 145, 270 Robinson, L. S., 67 Robiou Lamarche, S., 67 rock art, 21, 29–47; dating of, 19, 53, 56–57, 58, 99, 173–174; design elements, 57, 67, 85–90, 99–126, 137–140, 154–156, 183–188; and discourse, 34–36, 40; and ethnicity, 62–75; gender categories, 33–34, 42, 104–105, 120–121; as material culture, 30, 66, 81–82, 188; meanings, 63–65, 79, 82, 85–92, 141–146, 168, 189; modes of production, 82–85, 90–92, 104–107; preservation of, 152, 157, 165; and space, 30, 35, 37–38, 74, 151–152, 158, 199; techniques, 156–157, 161, 183, 195, 202. See also Côa Valley rock art, Levantine rock art, motifs, petroglyphs, pictographs, stylistic analysis



Rodríguez, M., 55 Roe, P. G., 18, 23, 24, 25, 52, 56, 57, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 270 Rosenfeld, A., 15, 16, 19, 99, 196 Ross, M., 21 Rouse, I., 52, 53, 56, 59, 61, 65, 73 Rowe, M. V., 20 Rowlands, M., 16 Ryan, J., 175 Sackett, J. R., 22, 23, 24, 103, 215 Sanchidrián, J. L., 160 Santoro, C., 83, 93 Schapiro, M., 23, 104, 221 Scheick, C., 134, 137 Schele, L., 132, 138 Scherz, E. R., 36 Schobinger, H., 19 Schütz, A., 34 Sefton, C., 198 Segers, P., 250 Shanks, M., 16, 219 Sharer, R., 131, 145 Sharp, N., 221 Shennan, S., 22, 245 Shostak, M., 39 Silberbauer, G., 38, 42 Silva Pagán, D., 67 Silva, C., 85, 87 Sim, I. M., 198 Sinclaire, C., 85, 87 Smith, C., 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 99, 104, 225, 270 Smith, M. A., 173 Smith, M., 132, 134, 136, 141 social identity, 22–25, 81–82, 172–173. See also art space, and rock art, 30, 35, 37–38, 102–103. See also mobility, place spatial distribution, of rock art, 104–105, 106–107 Spegazzini, C., 250 Spencer, B., 175, 176 Spencer, J., 44 Spencer, W. B., 250

Sperber, D., 218 Stambuk, P., 252 Stanbury, P., 198 Stea, D., 35 Steelman, K. L., 20 Steinback, M. A., 51 Stirling, W. H., 250 Stockton, E. D., 198 Stoffle, R. W., 31, 34, 40, 42, 47 Stokols, D., 151 Stone, A., 131, 132, 137, 139, 144 Strathern, A., 21, 246 Strathern, M., 21, 246 style: and the individual, 222–234; and the group, 234–237; morphological consideration, 221–222; and social strategy, 215–239 stylistic analysis: of Barunga art, 222, 231–232; of Levantine rock art, 99–126; of rock art, 99 Sundstrom, L., 137 Swartz, B. K., Jr., 30 Taçon, P. S. C., 18, 24, 160, 161, 173, 175, 177, 196, 197, 199, 200, 203, 209, 271 Taíno Indians, 73–74 Taira Tulan style, 79, 80, 85, 86, 87–94 Tajfel, H., 151 Tanaka, J., 40, 41, 42 Taube, K., 132, 140, 143, 144 Taylor, L., 174, 175, 176, 177, 182, 189, 190, 191 text. See written record Thomas, J., 221 Thompson, J., 219 Thorne, A., 206 Tilley, C., 16, 17, 30, 219 time: absolute, 20; relative, 20 Tomé, José Alcino, 159–164, 166–167 Torregosa, P., 160 totems, 207–208 Toupal, R. S., 46 Townsend, R., 137

Index Troncoso, A., 106 Tuquche, 135, 136 Turner, J. C., 151 Turner, T., 246 Ucko, P., 15, 16, 17, 30 UNESCO, 166 Urcid, J., 144 Utrilla, P., 100 Valladas, H., 20, 99, 157 Valltorta-Gasulla gorges, rock art at, 102, 106–107 Villaverde, V., 19, 100, 102 Viñas, R., 102 Ware, G., 139 Watt, W. C., 219 Wernert, P., 102 Whitley, D., 82, 139 Whittington, S., 135


Wiessner, P., 22, 24, 61, 103, 215, 236, 245 Williams, D., 63 Williams, R., 82 Wilshusen, R., 134, 137 Wilson, S. M., 59 Wing, E. S., 55, 56 Wobst, D., 82, 92 Wobst, H. M., 215 Wobst, M., 22, 23, 99, 198 Worsnop, T., 175 written record, as ethnographic record, 249–251 Ximche, 135, 136, 144 Yacobaccio, D., 79, 83, 84, 89, 95n3 Yulidjirri, T., 174, 180, 181, 182–184, 188, 191 Zilhão, J., 152, 156, 157, 160, 165