Tag Archives: rock art

Rock Art Talk in Vancouver BC, Wed. April 27

Source: ASBC

With hockey sidelined for a few days, there’s no excuse for Vancouverites not to take in an interesting-looking talk on rock art of the Stein River Valley tonight, sponsored by the Archaeological Society of British Columbia, “Vancouver Chapter”.

The talk, entitled “Rock Art Science in the Stein River Valley, British Columbia”, will be given by Chris Arnett, a UBC graduate student and experienced rock art researcher.  It is open to the public and free of charge, starting at 7.00 p.m. at the Museum of Vancouver, 1100 Chestnut Street in Kitsilano (map).  The link at the ASBC website is borked, so the abstract is here for posterity:

Rock art is found on every continent and is part of the cultural heritage of many peoples but there are few places in the world where direct historical and cultural continuity exists between those who made the art and the contemporary people. In places where this continuity does exist knowledge regarding rock art is controlled and not always accessible to non-indigenous people. When access is made available and information shared there can be prejudice towards indigenous ways of knowledge in favour of fashionable (historically contingent) theories of researchers. Early 21 century research shifts from a hermeneutic rock art research to a rock art science that combines forensic archaeology with Indigenous theory. My presentation will trace the dynamics of rock art research over a 125 year period in a place renowned for its rock art, the Stein River Valley of British Columbia, and suggest that the combined interests of researchers and indigenous people has potential to produce mutually constructed histories.

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How to Make a Petroglyph

Replica sandstone petroglyph made by Christine Stathers. Photo credit: Stathers.

I’ve often said the graduate student work is the backbone of the archaeological discipline in British Columbia.  Today I get to report on more student work – but this time its a fascinating study done by an undergraduate student at Camosun College here in Victoria.  The student, Christine Stathers, did an experimental archaeology project for her Anthropology 240 course, and she kindly agreed that I could post some of the results here.  The results are highly informative for our interpretation of petroglyphs, I think.

Continue reading

One more update on the Museum of Vancouver’s Petroglyph.

Interior Petroglyph now at Museum of Vancouver, while still in Stanley Park ca. 1980. Source: DanLeen.org

I have posted several times recently on a superb interior petroglyph boulder languishing in a shady courtyard at the Museum of Vancouver.  Together with Heather Pringle’s posts on this topic, we seem to have caught the attention of the Board of Directors of the Museum.

One of the Directors, Anthropology Professor Bruce Miller of UBC, called me the other day.  He consented to me posting notes from our conversation.   Continue reading

March ASBC Talk: GvonP on UP Art

UVIC's own, Langford's own, Genevieve von Petzinger. Source: Goldstream News-Gazette

I had the pleasure of serving on this month’s ASBC speaker’s graduate committee and I know if you are in the Victoria area you will be entertained and educated at this talk – which unfortunately I can’t make due to pre-existing public speaking commitments of my own.  Genevieve has recently been featured on the cover of New Scientist magazine and there has been something of a global storm of publicity stemming from her Master’s research.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, VICTORIA CHAPTER

March 2010 Monthly Meeting: Tuesday, March 16, 2010, 7:30 pm

Pacific Forestry Centre, 506 West Burnside Road.

The talk is free and open to the public.

Genevieve von Petzinger

Making the Abstract Concrete: The Place of Geometric Signs in French Upper Paleolithic Cave Art.

In Paleolithic cave art, geometric signs tend to outnumber figurative images and yet, they remain relatively understudied. To address this gap in our knowledge, I compiled a digital catalogue of all known geometric signs found in parietal art in France, and then trended the results looking for patterns of continuity and change over time and space. I focused on parietal art, as I could be certain of its provenance, and picked France as my region due to its abundance of decorated sites and its natural boundaries of water and mountain ranges. The database is searchable by a variety of criteria such as sign category, method of production, date range, site type, geographical coordinates and region. It is now being converted into an online resource. To provide a visual dimension, it includes a selection of linked photographs and reproductions of the different signs. In this thesis, I detail the chronological and regional patterning in sign type and frequency and the implications of these patterns for understanding where, when and why the making of these signs was meaningful to the Pleistocene peoples who created them.

(editor’s note: you can download her thesis free of charge here)

Biography Having been interested in the cognitive evolution of modern humans since her undergraduate days at the University of Victoria, Genevieve von Petzinger was finally able to explore this in more depth at the Master’s level. Working with Dr April Nowell, again at the University of Victoria, she was able to pursue this interest, and received her MA in June 2009. Using the geometric signs of Upper Paleolithic rock art, Genevieve discovered some very interesting information about these early examples of symbolic behaviour, and presented her findings at the Paleoanthropology Society meeting in Chicago, Illinois in April 2009. This presentation was the catalyst for her research being featured as the Feb. 20th, 2010 cover story in New Scientist magazine. This exposure then led to a strong media follow-up, which included an interview on the Discovery Channel, a feature in the Tuttoscienze supplemental of La Stampa in Italy, an article in the Globe and Mail, and a full page feature in the Vancouver Sun, as well many other popular press articles and radio interviews in French and English, both nationally and internationally. While being slightly overwhelmed by all the attention, Genevieve has been very excited about the positive response, and is just thrilled that other people want to hear her talk about her favourite subject!

For information, phone 384-6059 or e-mail asbcvictoria@gmail.com

Media Links

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20527481.200-the-writing-on-the-cave-wall.html?full=true

http://www.timescolonist.com/news/UVic+researcher+taps+into+cave+language/2599510/story.html

More views of the Museum of Vancouver petroglyph problem

Petroglyph from Lone Creek Cabin, Stl’atl’imx Territory, now in an outdoor courtyard at the Museum of Vancouver. Source: Squamish-Lil'wat Centre.

I’ve posted before on the large petroglyph boulder from the central Fraser River that is being kept in a sub-standard context at the Museum of Vancouver.  I found some more pictures of it, from the website of the Squamish-Lil’wat Cultural Centre (which is excellent).  These additional pictures confirm there is a serious conservation issue at the Museum of Vancouver.  I don’t want to beat a dead horse but I am still mad about this situation. Continue reading

dSpace: Adams on Gabriola Petroglyphs

Gabriola Petroglyph Design Elements. Source: Adams 2003.

One recent M.A. thesis I was really looking forward to reading is by Amanda Adams entitled Visions cast on stone : a stylistic analysis of the petroglyphs of Gabriola Island, B.C., from UBC Anthropology 2003, and available for free download here.

I was particularly interested to read the instructions she received on proper deportment when visiting the rock art:

Sites were visited in a manner and with a personal code of conduct adhering to Snuneymuxw wishes. Petroglyph sites were not visited at either dawn or dusk. A respectful demeanor was expected as was an “open heart and mind” (Bill Seward, Snuneymuxw elder, personal communication 2002). I was asked to give my full attention to the petroglyphs and their sacredness, not allowing daily distractions to interfere with my concentration on the ancient imagery. These expectations were met to the best of my ability. (18-19)

While many archaeologists are under the impression that there is little to no ethnographic information about petroglyphs, I have long felt that more likely such knowledge is private or highly privileged and not readily shareable.  In this self-serving sense, it was gratifying to see that Adams was able to record some such information:

Snuneymuxw Elder, Bill Seward, asserts that many petroglyphs were made by shamans, hunters and vision seekers (personal communication 2002) while Elder Ellen White maintains that the carvings were places where people both sought and gained power. She explained that “men would be stripped – even in cold weather and laid on top of each petroglyph – learning the spirit world, connecting to the area.” She also noted that the pitted ‘dots’ surrounding several of the carvings were “points of access”, places where one could dip their fingers into pools of “energy” and reservoirs of strength (Archaeology Forum group tour 2002).  (p 13)

Another welcome aspect of Adams’ thesis is her direct comparison to portable art.  Continue reading

Squamish and Lil’wat Cultural Journey

Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Journeys Map. Click to go to the site.

The Squamish and Lil’wat First Nations have jointly produced a really nice website which explores the cultural landscape of their traditional territories, which lie just north of Vancouver. Edit: it looks like their website now sells kitchen products – obviously they did not keep their registration up to date.

The interactive map has dozens of “clickable” elements, taking you to place name information, to the description of rock art motifs, and to landscape features imbued with stories from history and the supernatural.  Some of these include simple but effective animations, and the overall site design is clean and harmonious.

It seems that seven highway pullouts have also been designed with this information: aboriginal cultural tourism out on the land is something I have long thought has enormous potential in B.C.  Looking at a book or a website is one thing, but having the information available, provided by the First Nations, at the place where the story happened or the traditional use occurred, seems like it would be very effective, and popular, way of educating the public about the thousands of years of cultural history on either side of the Olympics.

Supernatural serpent emerging from Ts’zil (Mt. Currie). Screenshot from culturaljourney.ca