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Ancient American Indian petroglyphs (symbols carved or pecked on rocks) and pictographs (rock paintings) are claimed by some to be forms of writing for which meanings are known. But are such claims supported by archaeology or by Native Americans? Archaeologist Allen Dart illustrates how petroglyph and pictograph styles changed through time and over different parts of the U.S. Southwest both before and after non-Indian peoples entered the region and discusses how even the same rock art symbol may be interpreted differently from popular, scientific, and modern Native American perspectives.
Registered Professional Archaeologist Allen has worked in Arizona and New Mexico since 1975 for federal and state governments, private companies, and nonprofit organizations. He is the executive director of Tucson’s nonprofit Old Pueblo Archaeology Center, which he founded in 1993 to provide educational and scientific programs in archaeology, history, and cultures. Al has been an Arizona Humanities speaker since 1997. He has received the Arizona Archaeological Society’s Professional Archaeologist of the Year Award, the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society’s Victor R. Stoner Award, the Arizona Governor’s Archaeology Advisory Commission Award in Public Archaeology, and other honors for his efforts to bring archaeology and history to the public.