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Geometric Attributes

The attribute sets and attributes for the above class are described below. Minor edits which enhance the current definitions should be made directly to the text. Major changes or revisions which change the attribute words should follow the directions at the bottom of this page under Proposed Changes.


Single choice. This set of attributes describes very simple elements that can be completely described with one of the attributes below. Any of the designs below may be rotated in any direction. More complex lines with repeating patterns that turn backward and then forward should be described as motifs. [New window] Examples for Geometric.Line

A straight line.
Fat Line
A wide straight line; a solid pecked elongated rectangle.
An arc made of a single line.
Angled Hook
Similar to a chevron or V, but one side is at least twice the length of the other.
Rounded Hook
Similar to an arc, but one side is extended in a straight line.
Chevron or V
A chevron or a V.
U or C
A "U" or "C" shape, or a squared U.
Double U
Two interlocking U or C shapes. There are two offset lines and the ends point in opposite directions.
A series of connected short line segments that are either perpendicular or parallel to the overall direction. These are sometimes irregular with multiple up steps followed by multiple down steps.
Similar to a sawtooth pattern, but all corners are rounded.
A sawtooth pattern made of a series of short lines joined at 90 degree angles.


Multiple choice. These are simple designs with no or minor embellishments. [New window] Examples for Geometric.Cross

A line or stick arrow made of three lines connecting at one point. If the lines are of nearly equal length, it may be a bird track.
Three or more lines that cross at a center point.
A cross or a "+" symbol. These are usually formed with vertical and horizontal lines, but are sometimes rotated. The two lines must be at right angles to each other.
Double Cross
A single vertical or horizontal line with two (rather than one) intersecting lines. A similar element is a dragonfly -- see Zoomorphic insect choices.
Forked Line or Y
A Y shape that may be upright or on its side.
May be upright or on side. In on the side, it appears as the letter "I" with capped ends. In some areas, these are frequently outlines or outlined.
An N shaped figure rotated in any direction.
May be upright or on side, a line bisected by a perpendicular line.
Not a cross because the two lines are not at right angles to each other. This is usually positioned to look like a letter X, but may be rotated.
The center (cross or other shape) has not been pecked or painted.
There is a border around the central design.


Multiple choice. A trident is similar to a 3-pronged fishing spear.

The element is a trident, check this if any of the choices below are checked. If there is any hint of a beak, wings or tail, then the element should be recorded as a zoomorphic thunderbird.
The 3 prongs point upward.
The 3 prongs point downward.
The 3 prongs point to either side or downward.
The 3 prongs are of uniform length.
The two outside prongs have unequal lengths.


Multiple choice. These attributes describe swastika-like elements. The legs may be curved or bent at right angles and may point clockwise or counter-clockwise. In some variations, one leg is malformed. There may be more than 4 legs. [New window] Examples for Geometric.Swastika

This attribute should always be checked when any one of the attributes below are checked.
Most line ends point clockwise.
Counter Clockwise
Most of the line ends point counter-clockwise.
One or more of the line ends is attached to another figure.
One of the legs of the design does not follow the normal form.
The legs are curved.
The legs are bent at right angles.
An irregular swastika having three legs.
An irregular swastika having five or more legs.


Multiple choice. This includes several variations that may not fit the definition of a spiral given in a high school geometry class. [New window] Examples for Geometric.Spiral

A single or double line that parallels itself by winding around a central point or simple design such as a cross. This attribute should be checked if any of the attributes below are checked.
One Loop
A spiral formed by a one continuously curved line with only one complete loop.
Turns are made at a right angle creating a square-like appearance.
Turns form a 60 degree angle creating a triangular appearance.
The center element is a cross and the spiral starts at one leg and winds around the element several times.
Two separate lines converge on a center point. The center point may sometimes consist of a U-turn.
Direction of spiral measured from the outside going inward.
Direction of spiral going from the outside inward.
Appendage or Tail
The outer end of the spiral is a long straight or wavy line and may connect to another element.
Multiple Connected
The outer end of the spiral connects to the outer end of an adjacent spiral or multiple spirals.


Multiple choice. Ladders are either single straight lines with multiple crosshatches or two parallel lines with crosshatches. [New window] Examples for Geometric.Ladder

Single Pole
A single line with multiple perpendicular hash marks.
Double Pole
Two parallel lines with multiple perpendicular hash marks.
The long line or lines is vertical.
The long line or lines is horizontal.
The long line or lines is neither vertical not horizontal.
Bounded Poles
The long line or lines ends are connected to a perpendicular line. They do not protrude through the last ladder rung.
Bounded Rungs
The ladder rungs do not protrude through the poles, but connect the two poles of a double poled ladder.
Rounded end
Either one or both ends of a double pole ladder has the long ends joined together with a curve rather than a straight rung.
The element has most features of a ladder, but is incomplete or has an elongated line.


Multiple choice. Rakes are straight lines with several connected lines. The connected lines are short and perpendicular as in a metal garden rake. [New window] Examples for Geometric.Rake

This attribute should always be checked to indicate a rake.
The tines of the rake point upward.
The times of the rake point downward.
The tines of the rake point left.
The tines of the rake point right.
The tines of the rake point in a direction not described above.
The rake has missing tines on one end, variable length tines, or other unusual characteristic.


Multiple choice. A motif is a design that consists of a repeating pattern. It may consist of a single line that turns backward and then forward, multiple individual S curves that tend to interlock without touching, a series of connected triangles or other figures, or a line with hash marks. Simple zigzag and notched lines should be described as "lines". [New window] Examples for Geometric.Motif

This attribute should be checked when any of the attributes below are checked.
Single Line
A motif drawn with a single line, either a continuous curve or a series of short,straight, and connected segments.
A motif drawn with multiple repeating lines that do not touch.
Straight Line
The motif consists entirely or partially of straight lines.
Curved Line
The motif consists entirely or partially of curved lines.
Border Line
There is a border line following one or more edges of the motif.
The overall direction of the motif is straight.
The overall direction of the motif is curved.
The motif curves back on itself to form a closed loop with an odd shape that can not be characterized as a circle, triangle, rectangle, or other geometric figure.

Composite Lines

Multiple choice. These attributes are used when the element design consists of many lines. Either grid, maze, parallel, or tick marks should be checked. [New window] Examples for Geometric.Composite Lines

The element is composed of three or more parallel lines at nearly right angles forming a grid. The grid may be enclosed by a rectangle or the edges may be unbounded. The lines may be curved.
A jumble of connected lines that is similar to a child's game. This includes elaborate designs. The element should include lines that are sometimes parallel or have repeating patterns -- if neither occur, the element may be an abstract element.
Two or more parallel lines that are unbounded at the end or ends. The lines may be straight or curved.
Tick Marks
The element is composed of two or more tick marks that appear as if they were used for counting. These are typically short parallel lines of uniform size and may include cross hatch marks. If the tick marks connect to or cross a long line, the element may be a motif.
The lines are straight or nearly straight line from end to end. Does not include a series of short lines joined at the ends to form a line which could be defined as zigzag, etc.
The lines are arcs.
A curved line which could not be described as having 2 or more waves.
There are one or more dots that are a part of the design.
A curved line which could be described as having two or more waves.
A sawtooth pattern having two or more complete teeth.
The element includes lines decorated with dots, angles, curlicues, etc.
The element includes branching or forking lines.


Single choice. The choices below describe commonly used geometric figures that may be either outlined or filled objects. There may be additional designs in the interior of the shape and there may be rays or other appendages attached to the exterior.

Geometric figures always define an enclosed area. A U shaped line is not an enclosed area. Geometric figures that are rectangles containing outlined crosses, H's, etc. should be defined as crosses rather than figures. [New window] Examples for Geometric.Figure

Round or circular.
Oval, not round.
A shape like a quarter or eighth moon.
Oval or circular with one side squeezed or flattened inward. In some instances, it may resemble a curved sausage link. Kidney shapes are frequently bisected and sometimes trisected by the lines on the indented side crossing and extending through the interior of the kidney.
Any square that is not rotated to appear as a diamond.
A rectangle placed at any angle.
A square or nearly square object with the points at the top, bottom, left and right.
A triangle rotated in any direction.
Any shape with more than four sides that is not a star.
Infinity or 8
An infinity sign or figure 8. These are almost always outlined.
A star. The minimum number of points is three -- a three pointed star will have six sides. This is not a circle with rays.
Two circles joined by a line.

Nameless Figure

Multiple choice. These attributes are used to describe odd shaped geometrics figures that are uncommon and have not been named. If the element has none of the attributes of symmetry, parallel, or repetition then it may be an abstract element. If the element does not define an enclosed space, then it should be recorded as composite lines. Use internal and external attributes to further describe the element. [New window] Examples for Geometric.Nameless Figure

This attribute should be checked when any of the attributes below are checked.
The element or portions of the figure has reflection symmetry.
Rotational Symmetry
The element has rotational symmetry. The element looks the same after a partial turn; one-third, one-quarter, etc.
The element has parallel lines or parallel edges.
The element has near perfect straight lines.
The element has lines or edges that are near perfect arcs.
The element has repetition of any form.
The element is a geometric figure; it has an outer line encompassing a shape or is a fully pecked or painted shape. There are no protruding lines or rays.


Multiple choice. These are internal augmentations made to geometric figures. [New window] Examples for Geometric.Internal

The shape is pecked or painted solid. If this is checked, no other attributes in this set may be checked.
The shape is drawn as a line figure and may or may not have internal patterns.
The internal pecking or painting is composed of spaced dots. There may be an outline around the shape, but both Full and Stippled should not be checked.
Center Circle
The outer shape is not a circle, but there is a circle in the center. This frequently occurs with spirals. If the outer shape is a circle, then select Grouping: Concentric.
Center Dot
The shape has a single center dot or small circle.
The shape has a single line that bisects the object. If the bisecting line protrudes, check the protruding bisect attribute in the next set.
The shape is trisected by lines which intersect near the middle of the object.
The shape is quartered by lines which intersect near the middle of the object.
The object is divided by irregular lines not meeting the definition of bisected, trisected, quartered or spokes.
The shape has spokes similar to a wheel that connect an inner and outer circle. In some instances, there may be several concentric circles with spokes connecting one or more layers.
The shape, typically a circle, has diamond, leaf, petal, or other internal decorations attached to the inside edge of the outline. This may be an indication that this element is an anthropomorphic tools ceremonial shield, particularly if there are no external decorations.
There are other internal decorations not fitting any of the above attributes.


Multiple choice. These are external augmentations made to the geometric figures defined previously. [New window] Examples for Geometric.External

There is an external line, either straight or curved, attached to the object.
The shape, typically an outer circle, has several radiating lines. These are sometimes similar to the spokes that are defined as an internal decoration.
The shape has two rays placed in the position of horns.
The shape has an connected appendage more complex than a line, such as a spiral, circle, etc.
The shape, typically a circle, has diamond, leaf, petal, or other external decorations attached to the outside edge.
Protruding Bisect
The shape has a single center line which bisects the object and protrudes on one or both sides.
The shape, typically a circle, has multiple diamond, leaf, petal, zoomorphic or other external decorations attached to or near the outside edge of the figure.
There are other external decorations not fitting any of the above attributes.


Multiple choice. These attributes are used to describe rows or patterns of dints. [New window] Examples for Geometric.Dots

A dint is a mark formed by a single blow and is used to describe certain petroglyphs, but never used to describe pictographs. Each dint is intentionally spaced away from neighboring dints resulting in a design that is often crude and difficult to see. Dints that appear to be random pecking should be classified as indeterminate, dints that are amorphous should be classified as abstract.
A pictograph dot or a petroglyph dot made by several blows.
Straight Line
The dints or dots form a straight line or at least part of the line is straight.
Curved Line
The dints or dots form a curved line or at least part of the line is curved.
Parallel Rows
The dints or dots form two or more parallel rows or columns, or both.
The dints or dots form a pattern such as a center dot with a surrounding circle of dots. This includes any other pattern that can not be described as a line or parallel rows.
The dints or dots form an enclosure around another element.


Multiple choice. These attributes are used when one or more geometric figures are enclosed within a line border. This should not describe concentric figures -- the interior figures should not be a smaller version of the frame. [New window] Examples for Geometric.Borders

This should always be checked when any of the attributes below are checked.
There is a border on one side that is connected to other lines or patterns in the design. Similar to, but excluding, elements that are rake designs.
The interior design meets or overlaps the border at one or more places.
Penetrated Border
The interior element protrudes through the border in one or more places.
The enclosure is a square.
The enclosure is a rectangle.
Rounded Corners
The enclosure is a square or rectangle with rounded corners.
The enclosure is round.
The enclosure is oval.
The enclosure has an irregular shape other than those described above.
There are two or more parallel line borders around the interior figures.
There is a border on 1, 2, or 3 sides. The border may be on 2 opposite sides.


Multiple choice. This attribute set collects information about how multiple figures are grouped together. [New window] Examples for Geometric.Grouping

Figures are of multiple sizes and uniformly placed inside each other as in concentric circles.
Similar to concentric, but the figures touch each other at one point.
A nearly horizontal grouping of similar shapes or objects.
A nearly vertical grouping of similar shapes or objects.
The objects are connected with a line or lines.
The object edges touch each other.
The objects are connected with a line that continues through each object, bisecting it.
Three or more objects, each of which touch multiple similar objects.
The objects form rows and columns.
Irregular Grouping
The objects are arranged randomly.
Irregular Sizing
The objects are of different sizes. This should not be checked if concentric or nested is checked because it is implied.


Single choice. This attribute set may be used to count a variety of things, such as number of turns in a spiral, concentric circles, and rows or columns of circles, squares, etc. [New window] Examples for Geometric.Count

Six to nine, inclusive.
More Than Ten
More than ten.
More Than Fifty
More than fifty.

Proposed Changes

If you have suggestions which add, delete, combine attributes or change the word used to define an attribute, then please copy the entire current attribute set definition above, including the attribute set heading to the end of this page and edit your copy. If you wish to make a comment below your improved version (or someone else's improved version), add a horizontal rule and then your comment.

Minor changes in agreement with the someone's proposed changes should be made directly to the text, competing versions should be documented as complete revised copies including the heading.

To add a new attribute set, create it exactly as it should appear. For suggestions on sequence changes, create an appropriate heading below and add a comment. For other types of changes, innovate.

All documentation should be written for the target audience of volunteer rock art recorders.

Vertical/Horizontal should be moved from Ladder to its own set so it could be applied to lines, etc. Or put into General?

Need a word to distinguish external attributes that connect vs. external rays that do no connect - eg rays as in #0095-442A13

Motif needs a word to describe #95 461A2 -- solid triangles on a line.

GeometricAttributes (last edited 2017-01-20 03:31:24 by RogerHaase)

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