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books about prehistoric 'Rock Art', 'Petroglyphs' & 'Cave Art' from around the world
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Below are a selection of books about prehistoric 'Rock Art', 'Petroglyphs' & 'Cave Art' from around the world. From the simply marvelous cave drawings at Lascaux in France, and the petroglyphs of the American SouthWest, to the ancient rock art of Africa, the various peoples of antiquity left records of their daily lives and their archaic world on stones, cliff-faces and deep inside the earth on the walls of caves that were 'sacred' to those peoples for many millennia.

In recent years, many researchers have attempted to 'translate', or 'decode', the archaic symbolism portrayed in these unique records of the peoples of the Stone Age and the Ice Age, and some of the results have given a greater insight into their lives and understanding of the natural world, as well as their obvious artistic abilities.

Archaeologists have begun to study the 'acoustic properties' of many the caves used by the ancient artists, and interpretations range from shamanic ritual usage to the recording of the movements of migrating animals according to the cycles of the sun and the moon. Of the caves at Lascaux in France, it is said the Pablo Picasso once visited them, and that upon exiting the cave gallery where the drawings are estimated to be between 17,000 and 11,000 years old, he is reputed to have exclaimed:

"We have learned nothing!" ...


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"The Cave Painters: Probing the Mysteries of
the World's First Artists"

Gregory Curtis


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"For centuries, people have been going into caves in France and Spain, looking at the 30,000-year-old pictures painted there and asking, "What can they be?" In this lively survey, Curtis, former Texas Monthly editor, makes it clear that while we'll never have a definitive answer, the quest will always be fascinating. He begins by laying out who the painters probably were and what their world was like during the waning days of Neanderthals.

Then he dives into the caves and the bitter controversies on the art within, from the war of ideas between Marcelo Sautuola and Emile Cartailhac in the late 19th century to Jean Clottes's and David Lewis-Williams's current, strongly disputed theory that the paintings are related to shamanic quests.

Curtis's own speculation is sometimes more arguable than believable, but usually intriguing. He bolsters a slim number of illustrations with concise descriptions that convey his own delight, befuddlement, frustration and awe.


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"Magic on the Rocks: Canoe Country Pictographs"
by Michael Furtman

UK Edition

"Scattered across the Boundary Waters and Quetico, left by its native people on canvases of stone, are hundreds of enigmatic paintings.

Generations of canoe country travelers have wondered what these mysterious drawings might mean. Now, in this book, award-winning author Michael Furtman presents a comprehensive guide to the canoe country’s known pictographs and provides insight into the artists’ visions and the traditions that spawned them.

Complete with maps and directions to dozens of sites, and the most accurate reproductions of pictographs to date, Magic on the Rocks is an indispensable tool for those who would respectfully visit the sacred sites of a wise and ancient culture."


"Storied Stone: Indian Rock Art of the Black Hills Country"
by Linea Sundstrom

UK Edition

"Ancient petroglyphs and paintings on rocky cliffs and cave walls preserve the symbols and ideas of American Indian cultures. From scenes of human-to-animal transformations found in petroglyphs dating back thousands of years to contact-era depictions of eagle trapping, rock art provides a look at the history of the Black Hills country over the last ten thousand years. Storied Stone links rock art of the Black Hills and Cave Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming to the rich oral traditions, religious beliefs, and sacred places of the Lakota, Cheyenne, Kiowa, Mandan, and Hidatsa Indians who once lived there.

Drawing on more than twenty years of fieldwork, Linea Sundstrom identifies the chronological depth, stylistic variations, and multiple interpretations of petroglyphs and cliff paintings in this richly illustrated volume. Sundstrom describes the age, cultural affiliation, and meaning of a wide variety of petroglyphs and rock paintings--from warriors' combat scenes and images related to girls' puberty rites to depictions of creation myths and sacred visions."


"Stories on Stone: Rock Art Images from the Ancient Ones"
by Jennifer Owings Dewey

UK Edition

"Now available only from UNM Press, Stories on Stone introduces young readers to the rich history and mystery of rock art in the Southwest. As a youngster growing up in the American Southwest, Jennifer Dewey became fascinated with the images she saw carved in stone years before by the area's natives. For this book, Dewey has produced original color drawings that vividly recreate the images painted and carved into rocks centuries ago. Dewey explores who the original artists were and what their rock art meant, introducing young readers to the beauty and mystery of these images and stories on stone.

Dewey begins by pointing out that rock art is a mysterious but readable record of early human history in the Southwest. The author goes on to describe how rock art images came to be chipped and etched on stone and suggests some of the likely inspiration behind the images. Throughout the book, Dewey helps readers encounter the past with respect and understanding while opening their imagination to the stories told in these ancient works of art. This striking book will appeal to anyone wanting to share the power of rock art's ability to intrigue."


"Rock Art and Ruins for Beginners and Old Guys"
by Albert B., Jr. Scholl

UK Edition

"This is an "easy to read and understand" guidebook for all people interested in Indian Rock Art and Ruins. It shows a real understanding of the earliest inhabitants of North America, who populated the Southwest from approximately 8000 B.C. to AD 1300. The author gives detailed directions to rock art and ruin sites, which were left behind by these inhabitants, in the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

The book is beautifully illustrated with 23 full color photographs and 46 black and white photographs.

There are seventeen chapters on rock art sites, seven chapters on practical information such as food/cooking, camping, day hiking, photography, conditioning, etc. and three introductory chapters on prehistory and the different theories concerning the emergence and disappearance of the these archaic people, who are sometimes called the 'Anasazi'."


"The Petroglyph Calendar: An Archaeoastronomy Adventure"
by Hubert A. Allen

UK Edition

"Using archaeology and astronomy, Allen has determined that the rock is actually a sun shadow-casting calendar that marks dates in much the same way a sundial tells time. And the third point of the triangle aligns with the North Star, which can be traced to have shifted away from its alignment to true north over the centuries. The author was thus able to match the top of the triangle with Polaris (a.k.a the North Star), A.D. 1200, while the other points of the triangle align with the sunsets at summer and winter solstice.

In the narrow niche of publishing titles that focus on archaeoastronomy, this book manages to carve its own unique slot. Archaeoastronomy covers the ancient practices of astronomical study that endured hundreds or thousands of years of time, leaving behind only traces of the methods used to measure the rhythms of the sky. But because the movements of the sun, moon, planets, and stars follow predictable paths - celestial movements are as trackable today as they were in the distant past - the evidence of bygone systems of observations is often recognizable and in many cases, still functions."


"Legacy on Stone: Rock Art of the Colorado Plateau and Four Corners Region"
by Sally J. Cole

UK Edition

"In the deep and colorful sandstone canyons west of the Rockies, along river corridors of northern Colorado, and inscribed on rock outcroppings of the Colorado Plateau, the rock art of ancient and historic inhabitants of the West is an enduring record of past ideas and practices. This first integrated analysis of rock art styles throughout the western Colorado region, dating from pre-A.D. 1 to the middle of the twentieth century, bring together information from earlier studies and presents new information to shed light on how various cultures developed and interacted over time and in diverse geographical settings. Sally Cole traces connections between art on canyon walls, rock shelters, and bolders and designs on pottery, basketry, and other artificts, placing the art in cultural context.

This book surveys the cultural history and rock art traditions of Archaic hunters and gatherers, Anasazi, Fremont, Navajo, Eastern Shoshoni, and Ute peoples. regions of special interest include Mesa Verde and the Four Corners area, the Uncompahgre Plateau, Dinosaur National Monument and the canyons of the Green and Yampa rivers, and the Canyonlands of Utah and Colorado. An abundance of drawings, photographs, and maps illustrate the text and reveal the diversity of rock art forms and settings in the West."


"The Serpent and the Sacred Fire: Fertility Images in Southwest Rock Art"
by Dennis Slifer

UK Edition

"The Southwest holds a treasure trove of prehistoric rock art, the fascinating images of petroglyphs and pictographs spanning thousands of years of Indian culture. Fertility has been identified as one of the most obvious and persistent themes in rock art, the record resplendent with symbols of birth, death, and procreation.

Three-time rock art author Dennis Slifer takes a wide and deep look at symbols of fertility and fecundity, meticulously documenting drawings made by prehistoric cultures and the historical tribes of today's greater Southwest, and comparing the symbols with those fertility symbols found in rock art sites around the world."


"European Landscapes of Rock-Art"
by George Nash (Editor)

UK Edition

"Taking the immovable nature of rock-art as being crucial to its creation and meaning, this fascinating volume addresses the importance of considering landscape in the interpretation of rock-art sites. Covering a range of European locations including Scotland, Ireland, Scandinavia, Italy and Spain, this volume challenges the normal bounds of what is considered rock-art. Looking at prehistoric rock painting and anthropomorphic menhirs as well as graffiti on the Reichstag this exciting volume is a crucial addition to rock-art literature and archaeology in general.

The papers in this volume also challenge the traditional views of how rock-art is recorded. Throughout, there is an emphasis on informal and informed methodologies. The authors skilfully discuss subjectivity and its relationship with landscape since personal experience, from prehistoric times to the present day, plays an essential role in the interpretation of art itself. The emphasis is on location, on the intentionality of the artist, and on the needs of the audience. This exciting volume is a crucial addition to rock-art literature and landscape archaeology. It will provide new material for a lively and greatly debated subject and as such will be essential for academics, non-academics and commentators of rock art in general."


"On the Trail of Spider Woman: Petroglyphs, Pictographs & Myths of the Southwest"
by Carol Patterson-Rudolph

UK Edition

"This book weaves together the stories of tiny elusive Spider Woman as she is mythologised by the Keresan Pueblo, Hopi and Navajo people. Each tribe sees this mythic figure differently, yet there is no need to depict her in a realistic form. Instead she is described in symbols that reflect her attributes. She is a metaphor for something small and invisible yet very powerful. She represents creativity, spirit, old age, and wisdom. The myths are those that were left in the petroglyphs and pictographs of the San Juan Basin, south-eastern Utah, and north-western New Mexico. Both the myths and the petroglyphs need to be understood from the perspective of the native people who made them. The petroglyphs refer to the myths and encapsulate definitions of the cosmos; they describe dreams, spirits and all the elements a person needed to survive. These are some of the many places where Spider Woman dwells. The petroglyphs and pictographs are a veil between the observer and other transcendental realms. They are a portal through which to enter the world of Spider Woman."


"Rock Art of the Lower Pecos"
by Carolyn E. Boyd

UK Edition

"Four thousand years ago hunter-gatherers lived in and travelled through the terrain of what is now southwest Texas and northern Mexico. Today, travellers to the Lower Pecos canyonlands can view murals these early peoples left behind. Carolyn E. Boyd offers explanations for this prehistoric art.

Rock Art Of The Lower Pecos by Carolyn E. Boyd (Executive Director of the archaeological research and educational nonprofit Shumla School) offers an expert and in-depth analysis of the rock art created four thousand years ago in what is now southwest Texas and northern Mexico. New interpretations and hypothesis concerning these mysterious yet evocative images left behind by hunter-gatherers of millennia ago fill the pages of this fascinating guide, which packed from cover to cover with the latest up-to-date findings, as well as an anthropological wealth of insightful ideas from a wide variety of experts and schools of thought concerning the uses of the art and the intentions of the ancient artists. Black-and-white as well as full color illustrations embellish this thoughtful and strongly recommended study."

"Canyon De Chelly: Its People and Rock Art"
Campbell Grant

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"The Cave Beneath the Sea: Paleolithic Images at Cosquer"
Jean Clottes & Jean Courtin

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Yellow Horse
Yellow Horse
Cave Art
28 in. x 22 in.
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Two Reindeer
Two Reindeer
Cave Art
29 in. x 23 in.
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"Visions from the Past: The Archaeology of Australian Aboriginal Art"
M. J. Morwood & D. R. Hobbs

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"Rock-Art of the Southwest: A Visitor's Companion"
Liz Welsh & Peter Welsh

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"Petroglyphs of Central Asia"
K. Tashbayeva

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UK Edition

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