Monday, December 28, 2009

Petroglyphs and other topics

Early Church

Petroglyphs and other topics

Petroglyphs (also called rock engravings) are images created by removing part of a rock surface by incising, pecking, carving, and abrading. Outside North America, scholars often use terms such as "carving", "engraving", or other descriptions of the technique to refer to such images. Petroglyphs are found world-wide, and are often (but not always) associated with prehistoric peoples. The word comes from the Greek words petros meaning "stone" and glyphein meaning "to carve" (it was originally coined in French as pétroglyphe).
The term petroglyph should not be confused with pictograph, which is an image drawn or painted on a rock face. Both types of image belong to the wider and more general category of rock art. Petroforms, or patterns and shapes made by many large rocks and boulders over the ground, are also quite different. Inukshuks are also unique, and found only in the Arctic (except for reproductions and imitations built in more southerly latitudes).


Composite image of petroglyphs from Scandinavia (Häljesta, Västmanland in Sweden). Nordic Bronze Age. The glyphs have been painted to make them more visible.

A petroglyph of a caravan of bighorn sheep near Moab, Utah, USA; a common theme in glyphs from the desert southwest
The oldest petroglyphs are dated to approximately the Neolithic and late Upper Paleolithic boundary, about 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, if not earlier (Kamyana Mohyla). Around 7,000 to 9,000 years ago, other precursors of writing systems, such as pictographs and ideograms, began to appear. Petroglyphs were still common though, and some cultures continued using them much longer, even until contact with Western culture was made in the 20th century. Petroglyphs have been found in all parts of the globe except Antarctica with highest concentrations in parts of Africa, Scandinavia, Siberia, southwestern North America and Australia

There are many theories to explain their purpose, depending on their location, age, and the type of image. Some petroglyphs are thought to be astronomical markers, maps, and other forms of symbolic communication, including a form of "pre-writing". Petroglyph maps may show trails, symbols communicating time and distances traveled, as well as the local terrain in the form of rivers, landforms and other geographic features. A petroglyph that represents a landform or the surrounding terrian is known as a Geocontourglyph. They might also have been a by-product of other rituals: sites in India, for example, have been identified as musical instruments or "rock gongs". [1]
Some petroglyph images probably had deep cultural and religious significance for the societies that created them; in many cases this significance remains for their descendants. Many petroglyphs are thought to represent some kind of not-yet-fully understood symbolic or ritual language. Later glyphs from the Nordic Bronze Age in Scandinavia seem to refer to some form of territorial boundary between tribes, in addition to possible religious meanings. It also appears that local or regional dialects from similar or neighboring peoples exist. The Siberian inscriptions almost look like some early form of runes, although there is not thought to be any relationship between them. They are not yet well understood.
Some researchers have noticed the resemblance of different styles of petroglyphs across different continents; while it is expected that all people would be inspired by their surroundings, it is harder to explain the common styles. This could be mere coincidence, an indication that certain groups of people migrated widely from some initial common area, or indication of a common origin. In 1853 George Tate read a paper to the Berwick Naturalists' Club at which a Mr John Collingwood Bruce agreed that the carvings had "... a common origin, and indicate a symbolic meaning, representing some popular thought." [2] In his cataloguing of Scottish rock art, Ronald Morris summarised 104 different theories on their interpretation. [3].
Other, more controversial, explanations are grounded in Jungian psychology and the views of Mircea Eliade. According to these theories it is possible that the similarity of petroglyphs (and other atavistic or archetypal symbols) from different cultures and continents is a result of the genetically inherited structure of the human brain.
Other theories suggest that petroglyphs were made by
shamans in an altered state of consciousness[4], perhaps induced by the use of natural hallucinogens. Many of the geometric patterns (known as form constants) which recur in petroglyphs and cave paintings have been shown[by whom?] to be "hard-wired" into the human brain; they frequently occur in visual disturbances and hallucinations brought on by drugs, migraine and other stimuli.
Present-day links between shamanism and rock-art amongst the San people of the Kalahari desert have been studied by the Rock Art Research Institute (RARI) of the University of the Witwatersrand [1]. Though the San people's artworks are predominantly paintings, the beliefs behind them can perhaps be used as a basis for understanding other types of rock art, including petroglyphs. To quote from the RARI website:
Using knowledge of San beliefs, researchers have shown that the art played a fundamental part in the religious lives of its San painters. The art captured things from the San’s world behind the rock-face: the other world inhabited by spirit creatures, to which dancers could travel in animal form, and where people of ecstasy could draw power and bring it back for healing, rain-making and capturing the game

List of petroglyph sites
[edit] Africa
Tassili n'Ajjer in Algeria
Bidzar, Cameroon
Bambari, Lengo and Bangassou in the south of the Central African Republic; Bwale in the west
Niola Doa, Chad
The Niari River valley in the Congo, 250 km south west of Brazzaville
Ogooue River Valley, Gabon
Akakus, Libya
Jebel Uweinat, Libya
The Draa River valley in Morocco
Twyfelfontein, Namibia
Life-size giraffe carvings on Dabous Rock, Air Mountains, Niger
Wadi Hammamat in Qift, Egypt many carvings and inscriptions dating from before the earliest Egyptian Dynasties to the modern era, including the only painted petroglyph known from the Eastern Desert and drawings of Egyptian reed boats dated to 4000 BCE
Driekops Eiland near Kimberley, South Africa[5]
ǀXam and ǂKhomani heartland in the Karoo, Northern Cape, South Africa
Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art Centre near Kimberley, Northern Cape, South Africa
Nyambwezi Falls in the north-west province of Zambia.

In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) philosopher, founding 'father' and 3rd US president

Articles & Papersabout Rock Art

Petroglyph & Pictograph Sites Click on the site name to view images from that site. I update pictures & descriptions periodically and add new rock art sites and interesting articles every month or so. Be sure to bookmark this page and come back and visit us again.

Myth, Ritual and Rock ArtBy: Garfinkel, Austin, Earle and Williams

Culture Crisis and Rock Art IntensificationBy: A. Garfinkel, G. Marcom and R. Schiffman

Sears Point Patayan and Hohokam petroglyphs along the Gila River east of Yuma, Arizona. 10 photographs November 2009
The Coso Sheep Cult of Eastern CaliforniaBy: Alan Garfinkel

Gold Butte Anasazi, Patayan and Southern Paiute petroglyphs from the red rock district of southeast Nevada. 9 photographs July 2009
Death Valley's Other Moving RocksBy: Geron Marcom

Wood's Wash Petroglyphs and some pictographs from the western Lanfair Valley area, Mojave Desert, California. 12 photographs May 2009
The Stahl Site PetroglyphsBy: Donald Austin

Chuckwalla Spring A petroglyph site in a small canyon on the eastern flank of the Panamint Mountain Range, California. 10 photographs March 2009
Dating the Coso Range Projectile Point PetroglyphsBy: Alan Garfinkel & J. Kenneth Pringle

Black Rock Well A petroglyph site in the hills below the Saline Valley, near Panamint Springs, California. 11 photographs December 2008

Painted Rock Chumash and Yokut pictographs at a Carrizo Plain, California, rock art site. 12 photographs June 2008
In the U.S. NEWS

Bates Well A small petroglyph site located near an old pioneer homestead in the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona. 7 Photographs May 2008

Old Woman Cave Pictographs & petroglyphs at a shaman's cave in the Old Woman Mountains, eastern Mojave Desert, California. 12 Photographs December 2007

Anasazi Ridge A Virgin River Anasazi petroglyph site near St. George, Utah.10 photographs June 2007
Tracking the makers of Gold Butte's petroglyphsBy: David Bly February 2010 new window

Sheep Canyon Petroglyphs in the Coso Range, near Ridgecrest, California.10 photographs May 2007
Reprieve for Rock ArtBy: Emily Sharpe January 2010 new window

Little Blair Valley A Kumeyaay girls ceremonial pictograph site in the Anza Borrego Desert, California. 10 photographs April 2007
Rock art redefines 'ancient'By: David Page January 2010 new window

Lower Butler Wash A Basketmaker Anasazi petroglyph site on the San Juan River, Utah.12 photographs December 2006
Ancient road signsBy: John Bulger December 2009 new window

Picture Canyon A Mohave rock art site near the Colorado River in Needles, California. 9 Photographs November 2006

What is rock art?In general, there are three basic categories:
are carved, pecked, chipped or abraded into stone. The outer patina covered surface of the parent stone is removed to expose the usually lighter colored stone underneath. Some stone is better suited to petroglyph making than others. Stone that is very hard or contains a lot of quartz does not work well for petroglyph making; however, a nice desert varnished basalt usually works very well. Pictographs are painted onto stone and are much more fragile than petroglyphs. The paint is a mineral or vegetal substance combined with some sort of binder like fat residue or blood. If the paint was not properly mixed with a binder it would not adhere well to the stone and the pictograph would quickly flake away. Pictographs were painted in locations where they would be protected from the elements: in caves, alcoves, under ledges and overhangs.
Intaglios are large ground drawings created by removing the pebbles that make up desert pavement. Intaglios are usually in the outline of animals (zoomorphs) or human-like figures (anthropomorphs). Intaglios are found on mesas along the Colorado River more so than in other places.
External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Petroglyphs
Petroglyphs from Galicia, Spain
Petroglyphs of the Lesser Antilles
British Rock Art Collection (BRAC)
Dampier petroglyphs
Costa Rican city of Guayabo petroglyphs
Reports of concerns for Australia's heritage
Petroglyph Provincial Park Official Website
Northumberland Rock Art
Debunking of Ogam theory about West Virginia petroglyphs
A rival interpretation of the West Virginia petroglyphs
Kyrgyz petroglyphs
Cholpon-Ata petroglyphs, Kyrgyzstan
Sarmish-Say petroglyphs
Giraffe carvings on Dabous Rock, Air Mountains, Niger
Rock engraving sites in Central Africa
Shamanism and rock art among the San people of the Kalahari
Rock Art Research Institute website (Witwatersrand)
Rock Art Studies: A Bibliographic Database Bancroft Library's 14000+ citations to rock art literature.
Bradshaw Foundation
Latin American rock art articles and rock art researchers directory
Dolmenes y megalitos del mundo
Menhires del mundo
Petroglyphs in Peru
How to find La Silla petroglyphs
Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art Centre
McGregor Museum, Kimberley, South Africa
Oiseau Rock Petroglyphs on the Ottawa River, Canada
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Further reading
Beckensall, Stan and Laurie, Tim, Prehistoric Rock Art of County Durham, Swaledale and Wensleydale, County Durham Books, 1998 ISBN 1-897585-45-4
Beckensall, Stan, Prehistoric Rock Art in Northumberland, Tempus Publishing, 2001 ISBN 0-7524-1945-5

gallarus oratory, an early christian church, established between the 6th and 9th century. located on the dingle peninsula, county kerry, ireland. may 2001

I would like the angels of Heaven to be among us. I would like an abundance of peace. I would like full vessels of charity. I would like rich treasures of mercy. I would like cheerfulness to preside over all.
Saint Brigid of Ireland (c. 451 – 525) one of the three patron saints of Ireland
Gallarus Oratory
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The Gallarus Oratory (Irish: Séipéilín Ghallarais, literally "The Church of the Place of the Foreigners"[1]) is believed to be an early Christian church located on the Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry, Ireland. Though the building is believed to have been built between the 6th century and 9th century, some believe it could have been built as late as the 12th century because the east window has a rounded top made of two carved stones (not a true arch). According to local legend, if a person climbs out of the oratory via the window, their soul will be cleansed.[citation needed]
As early as the 6th century, monastic settlements were being built in remote areas of Ireland. This small
oratory, built without mortar, uses corbel vaulting, a technique developed by Neolithic tomb-makers. It is dimly lit, with only a tiny window opposite the entrance door. Shaped like an upturned boat, this miniature church overlooks the harbour at Ard na Caithne (formerly also called Smerwick) on the Dingle Peninsula.
It is a
corbelled-roofed building, built with the stones being laid at a slight angle, lower on the outside than on the inside, thus allowing rainwater to run off. This design has kept the interior relatively dry despite the lack of mortaring, allowing the building to remain in excellent condition.
"In Gallarus Oratory" (1969) is a poem written by
Seamus Heaney.
edit] Gallery
Gallarus Oratory: (Between Dingle and Bellyferriter): This early Christian church was built in either the 8th or 9th century. It is shaped like an upturned boat. It was built with dry stones without mortar, each stone overlapping slightly as the level rises. When they meet, a large flat stone is placed on top, the capstone. This gives a perfectly dry interior, which has withstood the elements for over 1200 years. The name Gallarus means ‘residence of the foreigner, and possibly refers to the many pilgrims who travelled to this area in early Christian and medieval times.
Kilmalkedar Church (near Ballydavid): Ruins of a 12th century church that was once part of a complex of religious buildings. In the grounds is an Ogham stone, pierced by a hole. According to a local legend those who climb in or out the window three times and run around the building will be guaranteed a place in Heaven.
The Skelligs: (Near Valentia Island): Skellig Michael or Great Skellig is an inhospital piece of rock rising out of the Atlantic Ocean. A stairway leads to an early Christian monastery. During the 6th century Saint Fionán founded his monastery here. There are two boat-shaped oratories, six corbelled stone beehive huts and stone built terraces. Why the monks choose such an inhospitable place is a mystery. They collected rainwater by channelling it through hand-cut ducts into five storage wells, which still function today. They managed to grow peas, beans, celery, onions, parsnips, carrots and medicinal plants. They traded birds?eggs, feathers and seal meat with passing boats in return for animal skins and tools. Today, thousands of sea birds nest and breed on the high cliffs. They are the only residents.
The Skellig Hereitage Centre (Portmagee ?where the bridge meets the island. Tel: 066 9476306) tells the story of the Skelligs and will include a boat trip lasting 1? hours. Boats do not dock on islands. There are boat trips available that dock. These depart from Portmagee Pier at 11am and return around 4pm, April-September providing the sea is not too rough.

Sag in Oratory roof

Oratory front view

Oratory door opening
edit] References
^ Travel in Ireland: Churches, Cathedrals and Holy Places
O'Sullivan, Aidan (September 1998). Appreciation and History of Art. Gill & Macmillan Ltd.
ISBN 0-7171-1666-2.
edit] External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Gallarus Oratory
Information about Gallarus Visitor Centre
Gallarus Oratory's page at the Cork Kerry Tourism Bureau
Several Photos of the Gallarus Oratory at
Coordinates: 52°10′21″N 10°20′58″W / 52.1725°N 10.34944°W / 52.1725; -10.34944
Retrieved from ""
Categories: Churches in the Republic of Ireland Buildings and structures in County Kerry
Hidden categories: All articles with unsourced statements Articles with unsourced statements from February 2009

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