Rock art is markings, either painted (pictographs) or engraved (petroglyphs) on the surface of rock or geoglyphs (large figures produced by either removing the surface of the ground or alignments of stone on the surface of the ground). Rock art potentially gives a unique understanding of the world view and culture of those who created it.

Rock art is found worldwide, and is one of the most visible remains of past human activity. The most famous examples of rock art are the painted caves of Europe or the paintings of the Australian Aborigines. Although different from these, Nevada's rock art is equally significant and deserves to be documented, protected and brought to the attention of a wider audience so we may better understand the role art in prehistoric lifeways. Visit the Art of Ancient Nevada webpages for more information on rock art, Great Basin prehistory, and ethnography.

Nevada's increasing population threatens the existence of many of these archaeological sites. Natural elements and the public's lack of understanding are eroding the physical record of past cultural practices and the knowledge they contain. Supporting NRAF is an opportunity to help record Nevada's history through research and site protection.


Why Save Rock Art?

The ancient peoples of North America left no written records of their cultures. For us to gain an understanding of what happened here in ancient times, we rely on clues these early Americans left behind in the remains of their villages, monuments, and artifacts. Rock art is one of the most visible records of past human social actions in the landscape and supplements archaeological knowledge of prehistoric lifeways derived from the remains of economic practices

Over the past few decades, the knowledge and methods of modern archaeology have advanced tremendously. Today, researchers use technologies such as radiocarbon and tree-ring dating, ground penetrating radar, pollen analysis, and trace-element analysis to glean information from the archaeological record. Few of these technologies existed 50 years ago. For this reason, it is important that we keep a significant record of rock art sites so that archaeologists and scientists in the future, with even more advanced knowledge and technologies, will have access to it.

Last updated 2/22/2014.