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
Blombos Cave engrave ochre.jpg
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.”
Sleeping Antelope Tin Taghirt.jpg
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’.
Giants, Petroglyphs at Rock Art Ranch.jpg
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.”
Petroglifo de Anganuma.JPG
A 2 km Quilanga (Ecuador) in Quilanga–Gonzanama 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
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.
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
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.”
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
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.
Bulls In Africa.jpg
By MrABlair23 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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.”
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
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
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.”
Rock painting hua mountain 1.jpg
By Rolfmueller via Wikimedia Commons
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.”