Wm Jack Hranicky RPA

​ rockart glyphs pictographs petroglyphs

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Virginia Fixed and Portable Artworks

This publication is the results of the Virginia Rockart Survey's investigations involving rockart sites in Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland. The Survey was started in 1983 by Wm Jack Hranicky to record outdoor inscriptions in prehistory. Later, then State Archaeologist, Allen Outlaw asked him to continue, and he became its director for survey operations. For many years, Dale Collins was the assistant Survey Director. The Survey has investigated numerous reported sites as possible rockart sites, but few actually turned out to be valid sites. However, the public has been the major source for information which has produced rockart sites. With acid rain being so common in the uplands, pictographic sites are disappearing in Virginia. The Survey is the only active organization finding and recording Virginia sites. The recording of Virginia sites depends on the Survey and its volunteers.

Numerous archaeologists have told the Survey that these sites are modern graffiti, natural geological formations, or not anything. The number of sites investigated and (re-) recorded by the Survey speaks to-or-for an opposite conclusion. Additionally, these same individuals say no ceremony was present because they are not sites. There are hundreds of archaeologists across the county finding and recording rockart sites. These finds are often reported at archaeological conferences, such as the sessions by American Rock Art Research Association (ARARA) at the Society for American Archaeology’s conference or at Southeastern Archaeological Conference (SEA) by the Eastern States Rock Art Research Association (ESRARA).

This report is a complete listing of the rockart sites in Virginia, as presently known. It also includes rockart sites in neighboring states which have been investigated by the Survey. There is no complete public record of Virginia’s sites; thus, this report is needed for the history and archaeological communities.

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Virginia Solstice Observatories, Portable Art, and Rockart Sites

This publication presents Virginia’s artforms from rockart sites to portable specimens. They are defined and illustrated with the scope of the study as prehistoric communications (or ancient writings) from a world of long ago. Art is the physical output from someone's cognitive processes which attempts to convey a message about the world as the artist saw it (Hranicky 1985). The artforms imply ceremonies and/or special attention environmental events and physical objects.

The major focus of this study is the communicative processes of the symbolic physical objects or images from prehistory. The basic premise here is that the human cognitive process that created them in history can be used in the modern age to decipher them. However for the archaeological world, this is not an easy analytical process because few, if any, methods have been developed in archaeology. The computer sciences discipline has come the closest with their artificial intelligence methods. This technology will have long-term benefits for all of archaeology.

The major technological focus is between the Pleistocene and the Holocene. This time period saw a major change in lithic technology from principally blade technology to primarily biface technology. This change is country wide and reflects a major change in human populations occupying the subsequent U.S. Most American archaeologists will agree that people were in North America before Clovis times; however, they are projectile point-orientated and continue to search for this type of technology which, of course, does not exist.

This publication presents prehistoric archaeology that is not practiced by some archaeologists; it describes and argues a new focus in American archaeology.

Rockart Publications