Digital technologies and quantitative approaches to recording rock art in the Great Basin, USA

Jo McDonald, Andrea Catacora, Sarah de Koning, Emily Middleton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


A recent cultural resources inventory project recorded rock art sites in the Great Basin using a number of digital techniques. This streamlined data collection enabled comprehensive documentation of the rock art and improved analytical approaches to understanding the art's nature and extent. The Lincoln County Archaeological Initiative focused on three Nevada rock art assemblages (in Mount Irish, Shooting Gallery and Pahroc). These three areas are managed by the Bureau of Land Management, and the overall project involved a comprehensive heritage inventory of > 700 recorded sites. Building on legacy data from previous rock art recorders, one of this project's goals was to provide a comprehensive digital record of the areas' heritage resources. Digital innovation was achieved using hand held recording devices linked to a rock art database, digital enhancement, photogrammetric software, and a GIS-based database, leading to improved recording, analysis and management of prehistoric rock art. Research goals included the archaeological contextualization of legacy data and newly recorded rock art. Previous models for understanding Great Basin rock art have included hunting magic, costly signaling behavior and shamanism. This paper deploys Information Exchange Theory as a way of understanding the stylistic relationships between these three rock art sub-provinces. A Multiple Correspondence Analysis of Big Horn Sheep is used to demonstrate synchronic and diachronic stylistic variability in the Pahranagat Valley.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)917-930
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


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