Walking in the Steps of Ancient Artists
Yesterday my husband and I went to Albuquerque to preview some new sites we will be visiting with our SchoolArts/CRIZMAC Tres Culturas: Exploring the Artistic Spirit of Santa Fe and Taos group next summer (July17-23).
What I was happy to see were the interpretive materials that were up to date. The above sign reads:
Identification of some petroglyphs is based on interpretations by today's Pueblo people. We cannot say for certain what all the images represent, nor is it appropriate for modern Pueblos to reveal the meaning of an image to others. Various Pueblos have differing opinions on meanings and any single image may have complex or multiple meanings based on its context.
Most petroglyph images in the park are dated by relative dating techniques. The design elements are compared to dated pottery and prehistoric Puebloan murals. The murals had colorful painted images on the plaster walls of kivas (subterranean ceremonial rooms). Many of the mural images are not found before 1300, which suggests that new ideas were beginning to emerge in Pueblo culture.
The rock here is black and volcanic, with lighter layers underneath. They may look simple but they were carved painstakingly with stone tools. And they have lasted since the 1300s.
Though we may refer to the people who made these as artists, it is unlikely they would have been considered that way in their own time. Most Native Peoples do not consider art as separate concept from life or have a word for "art."
We can speculate on the meaning of symbols but we can also look at prehistoric symbols and images from around the world and across time and compare their commonalities. Spirals are one of the most common.
|This is what the damage looks like.