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Rock Art

    Rock carvings and markers are an important part of the Swift research. Countless hours of walking cliff lines and studying boulders have awarded many searches with another mystery or another clue in their search efforts. There are literally thousands of ancient markings, signs and doodles even carved into rock formations.  Some have been lightly covered in this blog.  Some of the ancient carvings are quite unusual and certainly interesting.
    This coming weekend (April 4-6, 2014) a weekend event will be held at Natural Bridge State Park about such stone art. Presentation of papers on a variety of  stone carvings will be conducted on Saturday. Field trips are planned for Friday and Sunday.  Listed below is a sample of the type of papers and lectures to be presented. This is just the morning program.  The entire schedule of information is too long to include here in this blog post.

There is an admission fee for the event but it is nominal. If you are interested in rock carvings, this one is the one for you.

9:00 - Cornette, Alan
The High Rock Petroglyph Site (15PO25) in Kentucky
The very unique image labeled The High Rock Petroglyph (15PO25) presently on display at the Red River Museum at Clay City, Kentucky, is a face image and was created for ceremonial purpose to propagate and sustain a Southern Death Cult (sometimes called the Buzzard Cult) introduced from the southeastern United States into Powell County, Kentucky. The face feature incised on one side of a sandstone boulder (5ft x 2ft x 4ft) is one cohesive image identified as that of a Southern Death Cult warrior/shaman. This image exhibits identified and accepted iconic shapes related to earlier Mississippian and Central American, Maya and Aztec cultures and has no connection to a common, laymen belief related to the Paraidolia instructs of the human brain such as one may see in clouds or cluttered wallpaper designs.

9:20 – Sierra M. Bow (University of Tennessee), Jan F. Simek (University of Tennessee), Scott Ashcraft (Pisgah National Forest), Lorie Hansen (North Carolina Rock Art Project)
Portable X-Ray Fluorescence Analysis of the Paint Rock Pictographs, Appalachian Ranger District, Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina
Paint Rock (31MD379) is a well-known pictograph site located on the north bank of the French Broad River in Madison County, North Carolina. This painted panel consists of a bi-chrome red and yellow rectilinear design high up the vertical cliff face. While recording and documenting the site in 2006, New South Associates collected three samples of pigmented rock and submitted for AMS dating and physical analysis via Energy-Dispersive Spectrometry (EDS). We revisited the site in 2013 to conduct a comprehensive, non-destructive physical analysis of the red and yellow paints with a portable X-ray fluorescence analyzer (pXRF). In this presentation we compare the compositional results between the EDS and pXRF analyses in order to determine the efficacy of non-destructive methods over the standard destructive analysis techniques.

9:40 - Jan Simek (University of Tennessee), Sierra Bow (University of Tennessee), Mary White (United States Forest Service), Wayna Adams (United States Forest Service), Randy Boedy (United States Forest Service)
Pictographs along a Section of Dog Slaughter Creek, London Ranger District, Daniel Boone National Forest, Kentucky
In 2012, a series of black pictographs was discovered by US Forest Service archaeologists in a sandstone rockshelter along Dog Slaughter Creek in the London District of the Daniel Boone National Forest. These pictographs include images of various animal tracks, plants, and an anthropomorph that are in keeping with motifs from other Kentucky rock art sites, although painted rock art is far less common than petroglyphs in the state. Portable XRF analysis of the pictographs shows that liquid paints were used to produce the images and that charcoal was the primary coloring agent. The paint recipe used at Dog Slaughter is consistent with prehistoric paint production further to the South in Tennessee, where rock art pictographs are more common than they are in much of Kentucky.

10:00 – Faulkner, Johnny
An Examination of Eastern Kentucky Rock Art Sites
This paper will entail a look at some rock art sites here in Eastern Kentucky and how they were potentially manufactured by past prehistoric peoples. The majority of petroglyphs in Kentucky, on sandstone rock contexts, appear to have been manufactured by pecking into the rock, from both direct percussion and indirect percussion techniques.  My paper will discuss an approach for future archaeologists to focus on the lithic debitage at prehistoric sites that have petroglyph features, to potentially date when the petroglyph was manufactured.   If the prehistoric petroglyph manufacturing tools are identified with associated datable artifacts within "in situ" cultural midden deposits through excavations, archaeologists should be able to date what cultural period the petroglyphs were manufactured.  I have been doing some recent research, focusing on making replicas of previously recorded prehistoric rock art petroglyph motifs, using both both direct and direct percussion techniques with a variety of lithic tools (hammerstones, bifaces preforms and flake debitage).   I will show through replication of petroglyphs what tools I utilized to complete the process. I will have a display set up at the upcoming conference, in conjunction with the Red River Historical Society, with both the replica tool assemblage and lithic waste debitage, and have several replicate petroglyphs that I have manufactured into locally occurring sandstone rock slabs from rockshelters in the Red River gorge area.   Hopefully by comparing both replication tools and replication lithic waste debitage with similar tools and debitage from prehistoric sites, archaeologists may start to get a handle on what prehistoric culture were making the unique rock art glyphs.


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