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Marks of Distinction: Rock Art and Ethnic Identification in the Great Basin

  • Angus R. Quinlan (a1) and Alanah Woody (a2)

Great Basin ethnography contains little information concerning rock art, suggesting that much of it is pre-Numic. The presence of historic rock art, however, should permit differences between pre-Numic and Numic populations to be identified. Anthropological theory suggests pioneer groups use ritual to socialize the landscape. Rock art may also be associated with colonizing groups to secure access to new resources. Numic populations seem to have responded to pre-Numic rock art through modification of the art. Once the landscape had been re-socialized rock art was generally avoided. This explains why rock art production became sporadic, and memory of it lost.


La etnografía de Great Basin contiene poca información del arte rupestre, sugiriendo que mucho del este arte en roca es pre-Numic. La presencia del arte rupestre histórico debe identificar diferencias entre poblaciones pre-Numic y Numic. La teoría antropológica sugiere que grupos pioneros realizaron rituales de socialización en el paisaje. El arte rupestre estaría asociado con la colonización de grupos, para afianzar acceso a nuevos recursos. Las poblaciones Numic parecen haber respondido al arte pre-Numic a través de la modificación del arte. Una vez que el paisaje se había resocializado, el arte rupestre generalmente se evitó. Esto explica porqué la producción del arte rupestre fue esporádica, y su memoria se perdió.

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American Antiquity
  • ISSN: 0002-7316
  • EISSN: 2325-5064
  • URL: /core/journals/american-antiquity
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