How to do things with petroglyphs: the rock art of Nevada

Woody, A.J. (2000) How to do things with petroglyphs: the rock art of Nevada. University of Southampton, Department of Archaeology, Doctoral Thesis , 342pp.


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The focus of this thesis is the rock art of Nevada, a state in the western United States.
While the previously dominant models of rock art interpretation (hunting-magic and
shamanism) have produced significant bodies of research, I argue that both are based on faulty
Anthropological theory and produce theorisations which are one dimensional because of the
focus on rock art imagery at the expense of site contexts. Because meaning is not derived from
the images themselves, but is rather derived from the social contexts of use and production,
it is these which must be reconstructed and which will elucidate the imagery. Therefore, it is
necessary to examine the details of rock art site contexts, rather than simply select a model and
apply it to the site regardless of fit. In short, rock art must be approached as archaeology,
albeit informed by ethnography when possible. In this thesis I examine in detail the official rock
art site records for the state of Nevada and identify patterns in the contexts and distributions
and examine variation and similarities throughout the state. Based on these, I suggest
alternative analyses of Nevada's rock art and discuss the role that it may have played in the
colonization of the Americas; the symbolic construction of social and ethnic identities; the
identification of ritual spaces in pre-history; and the significance of rock art to modern Native

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: Digitized via the E-THOS exercise.
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Humanities > Archaeology
ePrint ID: 43793
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
June 2000Made publicly available
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2007
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2014 18:28

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