Arts2014, 3(1), 156-174; doi:10.3390/arts3010156 - published online 28 February 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Pleistocene rock art is abundant in Australia, but has so far received only limited attention. Instead there has been a trend, begun over a century ago, to search for presumed depictions of extinct megafauna and the tracks of such species. All these notions have been discredited, however, and the current evidence suggests that figurative depiction was introduced only during the Holocene, never reaching Tasmania. Nevertheless, some Australian rock art has been attributed to the Pleistocene by direct dating methods, and its nature implies that a significant portion of the surviving corpus of rock art may also be of such age. In particular much of Australian cave art is of the Ice Age, or appears to be so, and any heavily weathered or patinated petroglyphs on particularly hard rocks are good candidates for Pleistocene antiquity. On the other hand, there is very limited evidence of mobiliary paleoart of such age in Australia.
Arts2014, 3(1), 135-155; doi:10.3390/arts3010135 - published online 28 February 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Current archaeological evidence supports the claim that symbolic behavior, including palaeoart, first emerged in human evolution around 1 million years ago. The purpose of this article is to review archaeological studies that might support the hypothesis that the earliest palaeoart actually is evident around 2 million years ago. This review identifies nine Oldowan artifacts that have been proposed as possible non-utilitarian and possibly symbolic behavior. Among seven stone tools, the three strongest candidates are the Olduvai Gorge, the FLK North grooved and pecked cobble, ~1.80 million years ago, and MNK Main subspheroid with hexagon shape framing an apparent natural dot-and-undulating-line motif, ~1.5–1.6 million years ago, both initially reported and described by Mary Leakey; and the curated Koobi Fora FxJj1 “broken core” with inner rhomboid shape, ~1.87 million years ago. All six stone tools from Olduvai Gorge need scientific re-examination to determine their chaîne opératoire and assess non-utilitarian features. If even one of the Olduvai Gorge artifacts were validated as symbolic behavior this would indicate the emergence of palaeoart one million years earlier than current proposals. It would also suggest that Homo habilis/rudolfensis or a very early Homo erectus had substantially more advanced cognitive, design and symbolic competencies than inferred in current theories. It would constitute a challenge to develop more advanced cognitive semiotic and art-theoretic analytical tools for illuminating the role of such palaeoart in hominin cultural evolution.
Arts2014, 3(1), 118-134; doi:10.3390/arts3010118 - published online 26 February 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Although a great number of petroglyphs have been identified in Iran, only a few rock painting sites have been found. Despite this, a considerable number of rock paintings have been discovered in Kuh-e-Donbeh, which is a mountain located to the south-west of the city of Esfahan in central Iran. The paintings can be found on the rims of seasonal water channels on this mountain. All the depictions are painted with red pigment sourced from the immediate region. The motifs depicted include zoomorphs, anthropomorphs, horse-riding scenes, and some unknown shapes, etc. A farming theme is also prevalent in the corpus. The paintings are located in five areas and, in some cases, have been subject to intense weathering. Some of the rock paintings may date to the historic period, but reliable dating is not currently possible. So, analysis of the pigments for more secure scientific dating will be required.
Arts2014, 3(1), 73-104; doi:10.3390/arts3010073 - published online 13 February 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Rock art has been known in Southeast Asia since the early 19th century, but relatively little attention has been paid to this class of archaeological material. This paper attempts to correct the perception that there is little rock art known in the region; especially in the light of intensified research efforts over the last 30 years that have led to the discovery of numerous new sites. Over a thousand rock art sites are known in the form of rock paintings, petroglyphs and megaliths in Southeast Asia, and their distribution across the various territories are uneven. This paper summarises the state of rock art research in Southeast Asia and discusses some of the challenges of studying rock art in this region, research trends and new finds from recent research.