Wm Jack Hranicky RPA

​ rockart glyphs pictographs petroglyphs


Loubser, J. H. N.

(2010) The Recording and Interpretation of Two Petroglyph Locales, Track Rock Gap and Hickorynut Mountain, Ridge and Chattooga River Ranger Districts, Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests, Union and White Counties, Georgia. Forest Service Report Number R2010-08-03-00002. USDA Forest Service, Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests, 1755 Cleveland Highway, Gainesville, GA 30501.

Conservation and Protection of Rockart Sites

 Art (Object) - any implement/design that goes beyond purpose of what can be considered utilitarian usage. Any specialist who becomes proficient at his/her trade, such as knapping, sculpturing, can produce objects at the expected artifact norm or exceed it. This proficiency can be equated with art; skill above the norm; expert specialists. Art is defined as (Hranicky 1985):

Art is any conscious, intentional, and aesthetic human activity of abstraction that imitates, alters, or interacts with nature, all of which can be assigned meaning in a specific culture.

From an archaeological perspective, art involves:

1 - Meaning in the Indian society – properties of objects, speech, or nonverbal behavior that can be coded in ways that the transmission of the codes to other individuals stimulates the same cognitive processes which involves interpretation; abstraction is assumed. Art is usually culture bound and can be divided into:

             A - Material art

            B - Nonmaterial art.

2 - Thinking by Early Americans – cognitive processes of encoding and decoding meaning into constant elements that can be reused or stored in the human memory system; knowledge system or worldview is assumed.

3 - Motor skills by human practitioners – mechanical ability to produce material objects according to acceptable social ways and utilizing them accordingly; manufacturing skills are assumed.

Art as a Function - for tools, art may supersede function, mix structure, and violate styles to produce implements that function as objects d’art. Art functions as:

 1 - Effort to imitate nature

2 - Supplement or modify natural processes

3 - Alter perceived interpretations of natural events

4 - Counteract or prevent the work of Nature

5 - Decorate to improve appearance

6 - Call or benefit a spirit in religion.

The artfulness of tools and implements is culturally determined; thus, prehistoric art is difficult to identify unless archaeologists use contemporary standards and methods of interpretation. We can assume artforms existed and functioned in some way in prehistory. When an artform is added to a tool that modified its basic structure, then there is an increase or decrease in perceived performance. For prehistory, the user may have perceived an increase in performance which may have never happened.

Art Application - addition of an artform to a tool or implement. It is a variation in design or structure to add art, such as graving, nonfunctional modifications painting, etc. The application is always an overlay on function. If the function (tool) purpose is absent, then the tool is a ceremonial object. It is generally an effort to decorate an object or tool. Ars gratia artis...according to Graves-Brown (1995):

The word art probably acquired its current meaning at some time in the 18th century. In so far as we still talk of the “art of cookery” or the “art of lying,” the broader meaning – “skilled activity” – is retained, but by Art with a capital “A” we refer to an aesthetic creativity which is distinct from industrial design. The sense in which art as skill could be distinguished from and at the same time related to imaginative genius has perhaps been lost. Thus one should bear in mind that creative Art has been progressively (and ultimately exclusively) associated with individuals of genius, as befits the increasing individualism of western society in the last 200 years. Whilst individual artists have been identified with their work since the Renaissance, Art as the inalienable, unique expression of an individual’s thoughts and feelings has more recent origins. Indeed, one might argue, as R. Williams (1958) does, that our current concept of Art and the artist embodies a distinction between skilled activity (in the old sense of art) and sensibility – an abstraction of knowledge, perception, sentiment or emotion which transforms a mere artefact into a work of art. This might be characterised as a distinction between the pragmatics and the poetics of life, and yet, as Shotter (1991) points out, “the word poet is from the Greek poitetes, meaning one who makes, a maker, an artificer.”

Art as an Archaeological Concept

The following definitions are used by the Survey:

• Glyph – any image in a graphic form that conveys an ancient mental thought.
• Glyph type:

Pictograph - is a glyph painted on a boulder face

Petroglyph - is a glyph pecked into the surface of a boulder face

Mud - are glyphs painted/drawn on a mud surface, usually in caves

Raised relief glyph is one that has had the glyph’s surrounding area pecked away; thus, a raised glyph

Images created by shadows or sunlight (temporary).

The glyph classification from most Virginia and surrounding sites can be divided into:
• Realistic - forms or images of living creatures.
• Abstract - forms that are graphic (non-living creatures).

Several Virginia rockart sites measure the movement of the sun by solstices and daily movement. The process of ground-based constructions which cause sun light to form observable images which is coordinated with a time scale is called clockometrics. The best Virginia example is Paint Lick Mountain of Tazewell County.

Survey Glyphs rock art glyphs

Site Damage to the

Difficult Run Site

The need for proactive conservation and management of Virginia rockart sites can be cited from Loubser (2010):

In the absence of explicit management measures at rock art sites, visitor attitude and behavior dictate how the sites and their petroglyphs are managed, used, and conserved. If the attitude and behavior of visitors are compatible with the conservation of petroglyphs then the petroglyphs can be expected to survive, even in the absence of intentional or explicit management measures. Unfortunately, usage of an area that contains petroglyphs is often incompatible with petroglyph conservation and sometimes results in the damage or even destruction of the petroglyphs. Applying chalk or paint to petroglyph panels and sitting or stepping on the rock are two ways in which the pecked and carved motifs can be damaged or even destroyed by incompatible use. The upshot of the matter is that the site cannot escape being "managed", be it in an informal, or "chaotic", fashion by the visiting public or in a more formal, or planned, fashion by the Forest Service. In addition to incompatible visitor use, alterations to the surrounding landscape often result in the deterioration of the petroglyph site, such as user-created trails resulting in soil erosion. It is proposed in the following report that proactive management planning and appropriate management measures taken for Track Rock Gap and Hickorynut Mountain (West Virginia) are preferable to an ad hoc, or reactive, approach.

Nationwide, rockart sites are being vandalized and destroyed. Rockart is not really considered a valuable cultural resource. Few states have active state agencies recording sites. For an example, the Virginia Rockart Survey is the only organized effort to record and investigate sites in Virginia.