Rock Art: Part 1

Rock balancing is not the only art form involving rocks. Rock art involves carving, drawing, and painting on rocks. Many ancient cultures across the world engaged in some form of rock art. However, not all rock art is prehistoric.

According to Wikipedia, rock art is “often divided into three forms: petroglyphs, which are carved into the rock surface, pictographs, which are painted onto the surface, and earth figures engraved into the ground.” This week’s post features petroglyphs and pictographs.

Source: “Rock Art” – Wikipedia

Petroglyphs

Blombos Cave engrave ochre.jpg

By Chris. S. Henshilwood (Photo taken by author.) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Blombos Cave engraved ochre
Blombos Cave engraved ochre.
2002

The engraved ochre pieces discovered by archaeologist Chris Henshilwood in Blombos Cave in South Africa are considered to be the oldest rock art ever created. According to Wikipedia, two of these pieces were discovered in 2002, and an additional six pieces were found in 2009. These additional pieces, which were recovered from the cave’s “entire Middle Stone Age sequence,” “dated to between 70,000 and 100,000 years old.”

Besides the ochre pieces, Henshilwood and his team discovered two toolkits in the Blombos Cave in 2008.  The Bradshaw Foundation’s Africa Rock Art Archive notes that these toolkits form “what they believe is a 100,000-year-old paint workshop in Blombos Cave.”

Sources:

“Blombos Cave” – Wikipedia

“Where Is the Oldest Rock Art?” – Bradshaw Foundation’s Africa Rock Art Archive

Sleeping Antelope Tin Taghirt.jpg

By Linus Wolf (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Petroglyph depicting a possibly sleeping antelope, located at Tin Taghirt on the Tassili n’Ajjer in southern Algeria.
Petroglyph depicting a possibly sleeping antelope, located at Tin Taghirt on the Tassili n’Ajjer in southern Algeria. 2 January 2011

According to the UNESCO website, “Tassili n’Ajjer is a vast plateau in south-east Algeria at the borders of Libya, Niger and Mali, covering an area of 72,000 sq. km. ” The UNESCO website further describes Tassili n’Ajjer as follows:

Located in a strange lunar landscape of great geological interest, this site has one of the most important groupings of prehistoric cave art in the world. More than 15,000 drawings and engravings record the climatic changes, the animal migrations and the evolution of human life on the edge of the Sahara from 6000 BC to the first centuries of the present era. The geological formations are of outstanding scenic interest, with eroded sandstones forming ‘forests of rock’.

Source: “Tassili n’Ajjer” – UNESCO website

Giants, Petroglyphs at Rock Art Ranch.jpg

By Alan Levine from Strawberry, United States (GiantsUploaded by PDTillman) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Petroglyphs at Rock Art Ranch
Petroglyphs at Rock Art Ranch hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=1303 http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g31411-d102662-Revi…
9 August 2010, 12:04
Source: Giants

Reporter Roger Naylor describes Rock Art Ranch in Arizona as follows:

Encompassing 5,000 acres between Winslow and Holbrook, Rock Art Ranch is a cattle ranch and home to one of the best preserved and most extensive collections of ancient petroglyphs in the world. Images etched into rocks adorn cliff faces, alcoves and overhangs in scenic Chevelon Canyon.

In addition, he notes that the “Rock Art Ranch petroglyphs date from 6000 B.C. to 1400.”

Source: “Rock Art Ranch lets visitors climb into the past” by Roger Naylor – Azcentral website

Petroglifo de Anganuma.JPG

Dava003 [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Petroglyph in Ecuador known locally as "Mermaid"
Petroglifo conocido localmente como “la sirena”.
Petroglyph [in Ecuador] known locally as “Mermaid.” 15 July 2013, 11:13:55
The original Wikipedia entry for this petroglyph is in Spanish. Here is an English translation of part of this entry:
A 2 km Quilanga (Ecuador) in QuilangaGonzanama pathway is the Anganuma neighborhood. Ascending path for weighting (approximately two miles in the sector Pailapamba) are delineated different areas where there are rocks of various shapes and sizes. A particular rock is known locally as the rock of the siren. The rocks are the result of the eruption of Mount Colambo.

Laxe das Rodas – Grupo XXIX do Outeiro do Lombo da Costa – San Xurxo de Sacos – Cotobade.jpg

By Lansbricae [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Laxe das Rodas petroglyph in Spain
Galego: Laxe das Rodas – Grupo XXIX do Outeiro do Lombo da Costa – San Xurxo de Sacos – Cotobade – Pontevedra – Galicia [Spain]
6 July 2010, 20:21:10
originally posted to Flickr as Laxe das Rodas – Grupo XXIX do Outeiro do Lombo da Costa – San Xurxo de Sacos – Cotobade
Most of the articles about this petroglyph are in Spanish. Here is a translated description of Laxe das Rodas from Concello de Murros, a municipality website for the City of Walls in Spain:

Among them we recommend visiting for its originality and ease of access, Laxe das Rodas, in the parish of Louro, which was discovered in 1956 by the ethnographer D. Agustín González López, according to the expert’s D. Fernando Alonso Romero is related to the widespread worship of the sun, may represent a calendar. This is reached by the road that leads to Louro Taxes, crossing the place known as “A Pallagueira” or taking a detour at km. 5 of the C550 road, at the point called Portocarral, to the point of San Roque, from here a deviation to the left along the new road Taxes and continues past half kilometer walk would take about 100 m. to reach the place where Laxe das Rodas station, consisting of a group of ten figures representing two spirals symbols seven circuliformes and a solar horse is located.

Source: Monumentos – Petroglifos” – Concello de Murros website

Tamgaly-Tas Petroglyphs.JPG

By Stomac (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Petroglyphs in Tamgaly-Tas, Almaty Province, Kazakhstan
Petroglyphs in Tamgaly-Tas, Almaty Province, Kazakhstan
2 July 2011, 13:07:48

Here is a description of Tamgaly from Wikipedia:

Tamgaly is a petroglyph site in the Semirechye, Kazakhstan. Tamgaly is located 120 km to northwest of Almaty, and takes about two and a half hours as the side road to Tamgaly is in poor condition (August 2013). The site is open to visitors, and the guards can assist you to head in the right direction along a gravel path. The main petroglyphs can be reached in about 15 minutes from the car park. The majority of the 5000 petroglyphs are in the main canyon, but there are a number in the many side canyons. The petroglyphs are mostly Bronze Age, but in some cases from the Iron Age and the Medieval.

The name Tamgaly in Kazakh and other Turkic languages means “painted or marked place”.

Tamgaly became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004.

Source: “Tamgaly” – Wikipedia

Nez Perce Indian Wars, graves of soldiers and civilian scouts killed. – NARA – 533070.jpg

Author Unknown or not provided

petroglyph made in memory of soldiers and civilian scouts killed in Nez Perce Indian Wars
Nez Perce Indian Wars, graves of soldiers and civilian scouts killed. Record Creator: War Department. (1789 – 09/18/1947) Date: ca. 1881 – ca. 1885

This petroglyph from the late 1800s is different from the previous petroglyphs because its purpose is clear. It is a memorial marker reflecting a loss of life in this particular war. The Nez Perce War lasted only four months, but the National Parks Conservation Association notes that “losses were heavy on both sides until the Nez Perce surrendered on October 5, 1877.”

Source: “Nez Perce National Historical Park” – National Parks Conservation Association PDF

Pictographs

Apollo-11 stone slab.jpg

By José-Manuel Benito Álvarez —>Locutus BorgReference:*Bednarik, Robert G. (2003), The earliest evidence of Paleoart artículo en PDF in Rock Art Research, Volume 20, Number 2. Page 95 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Zoomorphic pictogram on stone slab from the MSA of Apollo 11 Cave, Namibia
Zoomorphic pictogram on stone slab from the MSA of Apollo 11 Cave, Namibia
14 May 2006

According to the Bradshaw Foundation’s Africa Rock Art Archive, the Apollo 11 Stones “were thought to be the oldest known artwork of any kind from the African continent” until the discovery of engraved ochre pieces at Blombos Cave in 2002.

The Bradshaw Foundation’s Africa Rock Art Archive also describes the Apollo 11 Stones as “a painted tablet . . . discovered in two pieces in the Huns Mountains of southwestern Namibia in an archaeological layer dated to between 26,300 and 28,400 B.P.” The reason why these stones are called Apollo 11 Stones is because they were discovered during the flight of Apollo 11.

Source: “Where Is the Oldest Rock Art?” – Bradshaw Foundation’s Africa Rock Art Archive

Bulls In Africa.jpg

By MrABlair23 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Rock painting of cattle in Africa
Rock painting of cattle in Africa
23 June 2010

According to The Economist, “Africa may have 200,000 rock-art sites, more than any other continent. The oldest known site, in Namibia, is between 18,000 and 28,000 years old.”

Source: “African Rock Art: The Continent’s True History” – The Economist

SantaCruz-CuevaManos-P2210651b.jpg

By Mariano (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-SA-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Hands at the Cuevas de las Manos upon Río Pinturas, near the town of Perito Moreno in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina
Hands at the Cuevas de las Manos upon Río Pinturas, near the town of Perito Moreno in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. Picture taken by me in 2005.
12 August 2005

Here is a description of Cueva de las Manos from Wikipedia:

Cueva de las Manos (Spanish for Cave of Hands) is a cave or a series of caves located in the province of Santa Cruz, Argentina, 163 km (101 mi) south of the town of Perito Moreno. It is famous (and gets its name) for the paintings of hands. The art in the cave dates from 13,000 to 9,000 years ago.

Source: “Cueva de las Manos” – Wikipedia

FogginiHands.jpg

By Roland Unger (Own work Firstly published at Wikivoyage) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Painting of hands, Foggini-Mesticawi Cave, Gilf Kebir, Western Desert, Egypt
Painting of hands, Foggini-Mesticawi Cave, Gilf Kebir, Western Desert, Egypt 11 March 2011

Oddly enough, handprint pictograms similar to those in Cueva de las Manos can be found in the Foggini-Mestekawi Cave, which was discovered in 2003. Wikipedia describes this Egyptian cave as “a major new rock art site in the Western Gilf Kebir.” The Gilf Kebir region in Egypt “is known for its prehistoric Neolithic petroglyphs.”

Source: “Gilf Kebir” – Wikipedia

Aboriginal rock art on the Barnett River, Mount Elizabeth Station.jpg

By Graeme Churchard from Bristol (51.4414, -2.5242), UK [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Aboriginal rock art on the Barnett River, Mount Elizabeth Station
Aboriginal rock art on the Barnett River, Mount Elizabeth Station
8 September 2013, 12:15
Source: On the Barnett River, Mount Elizabeth Station

According to Wikipedia, “Australian Indigenous art is the oldest unbroken tradition of art in the world.” It further notes that “aboriginal rock art has been around for a long period of time, with the oldest examples, in Western Australia’s Pilbara region, and the Olary district of South Australia, estimated to be up to around 40,000 years old.”

Source: “Indigenous Australian art” – Wikipedia

Rock painting hua mountain 1.jpg

By Rolfmueller  via Wikimedia Commons

Photograph of a portion of the main rock painting of the Rock Paintings of Hua Mountain. The paintings are located on a cliff face along the west bank of the Mingjiang River in Yaoda Town, Ningming County, Guangxi, China.
Photograph of a portion of the main rock painting of the Rock Paintings of Hua Mountain. The paintings are located on a cliff face along the west bank of the Mingjiang River in Yaoda Town, Ningming County, Guangxi, China.

China also has a long history of rock painting as well. This is one section of the Rock Paintings of Hua Mountain in southern China. According to Wikipedia, the “paintings are believed to be between 1800 and 2500 or between 1600 and 2400 years old.” It further notes that the “main painted area along the cliff has a width of about 170 metres (560 ft) and a height of about 40 metres (130 ft) and is believed to be the largest rock painting in China.”

I was surprised by the materials they used for the paint. Apparently, the paintings “were executed using a mixture of red ochre (hematite), animal glue, and blood.”

Source: “Rock Paintings of Hua Mountain” – Wikipedia

Ipoh-San-Bao-Dong-cave-Buddhist-temple-paintings-Jul-2000-06.JPG

By Acred99 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Buddha pictograph on a rock wall in Tibet
Along with the Hindu Batu Cave in Kuala Lumpur, San Bao Dong cave and Buddhist temple located in Ipoh is one of the most famous temples in Malaysia especially amongst the Chinese community who refer to the place as ‘Ba Loh’, which is a Cantonese expression. San Bao Dong has been made famous by its cave paintings. In some instances these paintings are at least 2 stores high ‘the monk standing next to the tiger painting’ is very big. The paintings depicted in my photos don’t do the originals justice. They really are great works of art. When the original paintings where first painted is hard to say because of dust the paintings are maintained. It would be fascinating to have the paintings scanned to reveal there origins. I was told they where done by monks if that was the case they must have been great artisans in their day. The cave its self was probably established around 1887 as the neighboring Nan Tian Tong temple was established during this time. Matthew
July 2000
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