WORDS ASSOCIATED WITH ROCK ART  LAST UPDATE 12/2013

As with any science, there is a special vocabulary associated with the study and appreciation of rock art.  Below is a list of terms that are often used when discussing rock art.  As with any list, it could be expanded indefinitely.  If you know of a word associated with rock art not in the list please contact me.  An additional glossary is found in our guidebook, WHERE TO SEE ROCK ART WASHINGTON OREGON IDAHO.

ROCK ART--Some times referred to as petroicons, rock art consists of marks intentionally produced by humans on stones.

ROCK ART SITE--A site may consist of marks on a single stone or on many.

ROCK ART PANEL--A group of rock art images that appear in close proximity to each other, often on the same face of a large stone. 

ELEMENT--Individual design that may be characterized by its similarity to other designs.

PICTOGRAPH--Rock art created using pigments of various kinds to paint marks on stone.

OCHER--Iron oxide, a reddish material found in nature often mixed with various organic substances and used to create pigments for pictographs. 

PETROGLYPH--Rock art created by pecking, abrading or scratching marks on stone.

GEOGLYPH--Rock art created by disturbing the surface of the earth, frequently by scraping top layers of soil to reveal lighter layers beneath.

ANTHROPOMORPH --A rock art image that depicts a human figure.

ZOOMORPH--A rock art image that depicts an animal figure.

ABSTRACT--A rock art image that depicts no recognizable image.

REPRESENTATIONAL--A rock art image that depicts a recognizable image.

VUG--A natural depression or hole in a stone.

DIGITAL MANIPULATION--Enhancement of rock art photographs by using computer programs to aid in the resolution of images.

PATINA--Also referred to a desert varnish, it forms over time on stone surfaces especially in desert areas.  When it is removed by petroicon creators it reveals lighter stone beneath creating a petroglyph.

REPATINATION--The reformation of desert varnish over petroglyphs.

ABSOLUTE AGE--Age that can be determined by associating rock art with organic material, such as wood or charcoal, using carbon 14 or tree ring analysis.

RELATIVE AGE--Age that can determined by such things as superimposition of images.  The one on top is older than the one below.

SUPERIMPOSITION--When a newer rock art element is created over an older one.

LITHIC SCATTER--Chips or flakes of stone produced by lithic era people creating stone tools, often found at rock art sites.





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