Sally Cole is especially interested in comparing rock art from different sites and figuring out the
chronology (time sequence) of different images.
Details of figures and symbols from a rock-art panel discovered
on canyon walls.
Many of the images suggest figures of humans and animals.
She says that knowing what became "before" and "after" is important
to archaeological investigation. Without it, we cannot demonstrate
that various items, events, or ideas at a given place are related.
She is able to date rock art by matching types of images to pottery
design, and other items that can be dated.
The color of images pecked in the rock can also provide information. Because rock darkens over time, rock art
that is darker and harder to see is usually older. Where there are overlapping images, Cole can compare the coloring,
and determine how much age difference there is between them.
Many of the images human figures, animals we can
recognize. But other patterns are mysterious. No one knows for sure
what they represent. Some of the rock-art panels may tell stories
of migrations or record spiritual events. Other images may indicate
hunting activities. Rock art was also used to monitor the sun's
position at different times of year. It was a way for ancient Native
Americans to keep track of seasons, and know when to start planting.
Archaeologists, historians, and modern Native Americans frequently disagree about the meanings of the images.
Whatever the interpretations, the rock makes us think and wonder about the drawings, and who the people were that
Photo Credits: Kenneth Benson