2014 Eastern States Rock Art Research Conference Schedule of Papers




8:45 – Opening Remarks


9:00 – Cornette, Alan

The High Rock Petroglyph Site (15PO25) in Kentucky

The very unique image labeled The High Rock Petroglyph (15PO25) presently on display at the Red River Museum at Clay City, Kentucky, is a face image and was created for ceremonial purpose to propagate and sustain a Southern Death Cult (sometimes called the Buzzard Cult) introduced from the southeastern United States into Powell County, Kentucky. The face feature incised on one side of a sandstone boulder (5ft x 2ft x 4ft) is one cohesive image identified as that of a Southern Death Cult warrior/shaman. This image exhibits identified and accepted iconic shapes related to earlier Mississippian and Central American, Maya and Aztec cultures and has no connection to a common, laymen belief related to the Paraidolia instructs of the human brain such as one may see in clouds or cluttered wallpaper designs.


9:20 – Sierra M. Bow (University of Tennessee), Jan F. Simek (University of Tennessee), Scott Ashcraft (Pisgah National Forest), Lorie Hansen (North Carolina Rock Art Project)

Portable X-Ray Fluorescence Analysis of the Paint Rock Pictographs, Appalachian Ranger District, Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina

Paint Rock (31MD379) is a well-known pictograph site located on the north bank of the French Broad River in Madison County, North Carolina. This painted panel consists of a bi-chrome red and yellow rectilinear design high up the vertical cliff face. While recording and documenting the site in 2006, New South Associates collected three samples of pigmented rock and submitted for AMS dating and physical analysis via Energy-Dispersive Spectrometry (EDS). We revisited the site in 2013 to conduct a comprehensive, non-destructive physical analysis of the red and yellow paints with a portable X-ray fluorescence analyzer (pXRF). In this presentation we compare the compositional results between the EDS and pXRF analyses in order to determine the efficacy of non-destructive methods over the standard destructive analysis techniques.


9:40 – Jan Simek (University of Tennessee), Sierra Bow (University of Tennessee), Mary White (United States Forest Service), Wayna Adams (United States Forest Service), Randy Boedy (United States Forest Service)

Pictographs along a Section of Dog Slaughter Creek, London Ranger District, Daniel Boone National Forest, Kentucky

In 2012, a series of black pictographs was discovered by US Forest Service archaeologists in a sandstone rockshelter along Dog Slaughter Creek in the London District of the Daniel Boone National Forest. These pictographs include images of various animal tracks, plants, and an anthropomorph that are in keeping with motifs from other Kentucky rock art sites, although painted rock art is far less common than petroglyphs in the state. Portable XRF analysis of the pictographs shows that liquid paints were used to produce the images and that charcoal was the primary coloring agent. The paint recipe used at Dog Slaughter is consistent with prehistoric paint production further to the South in Tennessee, where rock art pictographs are more common than they are in much of Kentucky.


10:00 – Faulkner, Johnny

An Examination of Eastern Kentucky Rock Art Sites

This paper will entail a look at some rock art sites here in Eastern Kentucky and how they were potentially manufactured by past prehistoric peoples. The majority of petroglyphs in Kentucky, on sandstone rock contexts, appear to have been manufactured by pecking into the rock, from both direct percussion and indirect percussion techniques.  My paper will discuss an approach for future archaeologists to focus on the lithic debitage at prehistoric sites that have petroglyph features, to potentially date when the petroglyph was manufactured.   If the prehistoric petroglyph manufacturing tools are identified with associated datable artifacts within “in situ” cultural midden deposits through excavations, archaeologists should be able to date what cultural period the petroglyphs were manufactured.  I have been doing some recent research, focusing on making replicas of previously recorded prehistoric rock art petroglyph motifs, using both both direct and direct percussion techniques with a variety of lithic tools (hammerstones, bifaces preforms and flake debitage).   I will show through replication of petroglyphs what tools I utilized to complete the process. I will have a display set up at the upcoming conference, in conjunction with the Red River Historical Society, with both the replica tool assemblage and lithic waste debitage, and have several replicate petroglyphs that I have manufactured into locally occurring sandstone rock slabs from rockshelters in the Red River gorge area.   Hopefully by comparing both replication tools and replication lithic waste debitage with similar tools and debitage from prehistoric sites, archaeologists may start to get a handle on what prehistoric culture were making the unique rock art glyphs.


10:20 – 10:40 – Morning Break


10:40 – Wagner, Mark J. (Southern Illinois University – Carbondale), Eraina Nossa (SIU-C), Doug Kosik (SIU-C), Mary R. McCorvie (U.S. Forest Service) and Heather Carey (U.S. Forest Service)

Lost and Found: Amos Worthen’s Figure House Rock Site

In the early 1860s Illinois State Geologist Amos Worthen located a rock art site along Cedar Creek in Jackson County, Illinois, containing bird tracks, human figures, and other images. Forest Service archaeologists discovered a rock art site in this same general location in 1994. It was unclear if this new site (Prang) and Figure House Rock were one and the same however, due to the lack of survey data for the Cedar Creek drainage and the absence of human figures at the heavily vandalized Prang site. Recent (2014) investigations, however, recorded a previously unknown human-like petroglyph at the Prang site that confirmed its identification as Figure House Rock. This paper describes the rock art images at the site, their potential age, and the “feather and plug” drilling method used by historic period visitors to the site to remove an unknown number of images.


11:00 – Smith, H. Denise

Stone Construction Features at Stone Mountain, Georgia

Stone Mountain, located just east of Atlanta, Georgia, has long drawn the attention of visitors to the area. Before Europeans settled in the area, the mountain seems to have been a sacred site, as well as a boundary marker between different polities. Early writers describe a peculiar formation on top of the mountain, surrounded by a dry-stone wall. These features have long since been destroyed, but this paper will discuss the possible reconstruction of these constructions, including a short animation film. Such films could be used in local education programs about the mountain and its history.


11:20 – Steinbring, Jack

Rock Art and America’s Earliest Inhabitants

An attempt is made to reconcile knowledge of the earlies known rock art with the earliest evidence of Early Man in the New World. An assumption is made that elemental forms (cupules and lines) expressed in the Pit and Groove style, constitute the earliest North American marking. Excavational data are employed to clarify cases of early marking. Genetic data, along with ethnographic information are added to produce a multi-dimensional perspective on the problem.


11:40 – 12:40 – Lunch


12:40 – Motsinger, Mark (Carrier Mills/Stonefort High School)

The Stone Forts and Walls of Southern Illinois

This paper is a summary of the stone forts/walls of southern Illinois.  As the History teacher at Carrier Mills/Stonefort High School, I was amazed at how many of the students had never been to, or knew anything about, the old wall that gave one of the towns in our school district its name.  I began teaching about the walls in both my U.S. History and Illinois History class, and each year we took a field trip to one of them. As I began to gather information for class, a renewed interest began to develop that had originally been stirred years before and I began to look into the other stone walls in the region.  The paper summarizes, as well as looks at the history of research over the years associated with these stone walls.


1:00 – Diaz-Granados, Carol (Washington University)

Missouri Rock Art, Iconography, And Oral Traditions

For many years, the focus of rock art, for the few people who were interested in it, was simply to record it, and sometimes to quantify the motifs.   Of the few people who were recording rock art 50 years ago, most were avocationals who had found an interest in the field.  Recording was (and continues to be) extremely important but there is more to it that can be extracted.   There are over 150 rock art sites in Missouri.  Many of the petroglyphs and pictographs are not simple singular motifs.  They are complex and they tell a story.  The presentation is to show some of the complex examples of rock art and briefly touch on their iconography.  Jim Duncan will follow this talk and further elaborate on the American Indian oral traditions that are likely behind the imagery we are seeing.


1:20 – Duncan, James R.

Linking Oral Traditions To Rock Art And Artifacts

For years, Mississippian motifs found in Missouri’s rock art have been identified in other categories including shell, copper, pottery, and lithics.  I believe that this complex iconography encodes important oral traditions.  The fact that the same or similar iconography appears on portable artifacts strengthens this premise.  These oral traditions appearing in the rock art and artifacts should be considered as foundational ideology.  I will examine the rock art and a number of artifacts and demonstrate how they link to a selection of American Indian oral traditions.


1:40 – Afternoon Break


2:00 – General Membership Business Meeting