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Rock Art (Petroglyphs)

 
Author winterkjm
Partaker
#1 | Posted: 13 Oct 2015 05:49 | Edited by: winterkjm 
After visiting Coso Rock Art District (California), which is located on the restricted access (Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) China Lake), I've wondered what the possible criteria is for Rock Art sites to be deemed worthy of inscription? In particular, petroglyphs.

This subject has been touched on in some of these reviews.
- ROCK-ART OF THE MEDITERRANEAN BASIN
- ROCK ART OF ALTA
- ROCK DRAWINGS IN VALCAMONICA
- ROCK CARVINGS IN TANUM
- WADI RUM
- GOBUSTAN ROCK ART

So what is the criteria (or main argument) for Rock Art to make it on the list?
- Age and dating
- Concentration of Petroglyphs
- Subject or record of an extinct culture

Coso Rock Art District has the highest concentration of petroglyphs in North America (at least 35,000 fully documented, over 100,000 estimated). Their age primarily varies between 6000 BP and 1000 BP. They are primarily concentrated in only a few canyons.

Here are my photos of Coso Rock Art District. Only 1 of the several canyons are visitable by guided tour. (Restrictions: US Citizens only, $40 fee, and mailed application)

Because there are petroglyphs all over the world, is rock art an over-represented theme? We have 40 sites listed in our connection, but only a handful are primarily rock art sites that OUV is explicitly connected. Should more petroglyph sites be nominated and inscribed, are there other worthy sites that deserve consideration?

Author Solivagant
Partaker
#2 | Posted: 13 Oct 2015 06:34 | Edited by: Solivagant 
I know of no Rock Art site which has been rejected. It is therefore rather difficult to identify the cut off point at which OUV ceases to exist!! There is certainly the impression that "Rock Art" is almost, by definition, regarded as being of OUV.
I note that "Rock Art" is in fact covered by 2 relevant Connections - one for painting and one for incision etc. How strict we have been with the assignment across and whether it holds up (e.g are all the sites one or the other?), I don't know. Also what is the significane of the difference- I am sure the periods at which mankind has produced each of them overlap - though perhaps the incision etc ones on the whole are eaerlier
a. Pictographs (i.e Paintings) with 29 sites - http://www.worldheritagesite.org/tags/tag410.html
b. Rock Art (i.e Petroglyphs involving removal of rock) with 39 sites
You have titled your question as applying ONLY to the latter - but is that a useful distinction?
It could be interesting to try to put together a grid of all the sites identifying Period/Age and Culture/Geog Location together with whether they are paintings or cuttings.. Those already inscribed do cover the entire world and the entire sweep of human development from earliest "man" to (almost?) contemporary art (in Africa) so, it is perhaps not surprising that there are so many?

ICOMOS does seem to have been particularly interested in Rock Art over the years and has sponsored various reports on the subject - it could also be interesting to revisit these and identify gaps in period/geography/culture which have been identified

Author winterkjm
Partaker
#3 | Posted: 13 Oct 2015 09:56 
Well, there are certainly more coming to the WHC. (both petroglyphs and pictographs)

The Rock Painting of the Mountain Huashan (China)

Daegokcheon Stream Petroglyphs (Korea)

Korea's nomination's justification is largely because they are whale petroglyphs. China's justification is "evidence of the history of the disappeared ancient Luoyue people" and the importance of the folk religious beliefs displayed.

I would certainly support the idea of a grid categorizing Period/Age and Culture/Geography, Location together with whether they are paintings or cuttings.

Author Euloroo
Partaker
#4 | Posted: 13 Oct 2015 11:03 | Edited by: Euloroo 
Looks incredible winterkjm. Great pictures.

winterkjm:
So what is the criteria (or main argument) for Rock Art to make it on the list?
- Age and dating
- Concentration of Petroglyphs
- Subject or record of an extinct culture

Substantial age is always going to be a strong argument for OUV of any cultural heritage but I think the record of the culture itself is particularly salient for indigenous culture of the Americas and Australasia where there are strong traditions of rock art and the relationship with the surrounding natural landscape. The art also tends to be representative across a range of eras including some continuing landscapes. The connection between rock art and the landscape is prevalent for the inscribed sites at Gobustan, Mongolian Altai, Tamgaly and Bhimbetka but seems less so in Europe and the middle east where the landscape connection has typically been more eroded or lost.

I've noted before that cultural landscapes of indigenous cultures are poorly represented in the list, considering the sheer geographical scale and cultural diversity across Australasia and the Americas and the range and integrity of remains due to isolation and relatively recent colonisation. I count 1 each for Australia, NZ, PNG, Vanuatu, Chile (Easter Is), US (Hawaii), Argentina and Mexico - and three of these are on small islands! Certainly it's the case in Australia that this is due to the lack of understanding of indigenous culture by the Establishment (of European decent) and I suspect that may be so in the Americas as well. However, thankfully his has been changing in recent years e.g. national recognition of cultural landscape values of Kakadu and Wet Tropics.

So in summary assuming that most petroglyphs and pictographs don't have OUV and may not be that old (relatively) then then I'd be looking for OUV mainly through representation of an indigenous cultural landscape. That said there are many great sites out there and one day I'll get round to updating the petroglyph and pictograph connections for all the Australian Natural sites.

Author Solivagant
Partaker
#5 | Posted: 13 Oct 2015 13:17 | Edited by: Solivagant 
I have had a go at the spread sheet I suggested above (Els, how to make it available? It doesn't transfer to Forum layout very well!)
a. We have 60 sites with Connections relating to Petroglyphs (cut) or Pictographs (Painted). Twyfelfortain has both but was only connected for Petroglyphs.
b. 17 of these are inscribed solely for natural criteria so I have ignored them on the basis that any rock art is purely coincidental - leaving 43
c. I have identified 24 of these where the Rock Art is either the only, main or very significant reason for inscription. Clearly at the lower end there could be some argument about this judgement! Uluru for instance could be considered significant for its Rock art but I decided not - the Tower of Hercules I reckon every one would agree that any rock art is incidental! In any case the spreadsheet could easily be extended
d. Of these 24 - 8 are in Europe, 6 in Asia, 3 in the Americas and 7 in Africa
e. The ages range from around 35k YBP to almost the present - the African sites are not always very clear about when the inscribed art ceased to be painted - the implication often being that it could be until very recently or even ongoing.
f. The oldest is Altamira etc followed by Pont d'Arc and Coa Valley. The largest concentration date to around 10k YBP.
g. There are 13 with Pictographs and 14 with Petroglyphs - so 3 with both (Tadrart, Tsodilo and Twyfelfontain)
h. 5 of the 24 are also "Cultural Landscapes" - it appears that the very strongest Rock Art sites get in on their own terms alone whilst others need to call on other aspects too!

Author elsslots
Admin
#6 | Posted: 14 Oct 2015 04:02 
Solivagant:
Els, how to make it available?

Mail it to me, I'll put a link up.

Author elsslots
Admin
#7 | Posted: 14 Oct 2015 05:17 | Edited by: elsslots 
Solivagant's spreadsheet can be viewed here:

http://www.worldheritagesite.org/RockArtWHS1.xls

Author elsslots
Admin
#8 | Posted: 14 Oct 2015 05:48 | Edited by: elsslots 
See also this publication from ICOMOS, there seem to be no limitations in the number of Rock Art sites the List can handle:

http://whc.unesco.org/document/104947

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 Rock Art (Petroglyphs)

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