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Rock Art Classes

A Rock Art Class is the grouping of elements by a common life form (e.g. anthropomorphic, zoomorphic), usage (e.g. grinding), inscription type (e.g. historic, vandalism), shapes (e.g. geometric, pipette), specific item (e.g. mask/head, anthro print, anthro tool) or an acknowledgment of the inability to recognize (e.g. indeterminate, abstract).

The IdentifyRockArtElements function places each identified element into one of the Rock Art Classes. Multi-class elements should be classified using a master/predator scheme. An anthropomorphic figure holding a bow is anthropomorphic. A bird eating a frog is a bird.

[New window] Examples of element classes


Any human-like figure which includes at least the head, torso and arms. Any spirit-like, costumed figures or imaginary figures should also be included. See AnthropomorphicAttributes.

Mask Or Head

Includes anthropomorphic, zoomorphic and spirit or imaginary heads which do not have an attached torso. See MaskOrHeadAttributes.

Anthro Prints

Footprints and hand prints. Hand prints may include a portion of the arm. See AnthroPrintsAttributes.

Anthro Tools

Bows, atlatls, pots, etc. when shown as an individual element. See AnthroToolsAttributes.


Christian crosses, horses, equestrians, names, initials, dates, and words created before 1950. Suspected copycat elements such as zoomorphic, anthropomorphic, etc. drawn to look like prehistoric elements should be classified as historic or vandalism. See HistoricAttributes.


Writings and drawings made in 1950 or later. All bullet holes, breakage or other modern defacing regardless of age. Prehistoric defacing is not defined as vandalism. See VandalismAttributes.


Any animal-like figure including birds, insects and marine life. See ZoomorphicAttributes.

Zoomorphic Tracks

Footprints from any zoomorphic. See ZoomorphicTracksAttributes.


Any plant or portion of a plant such as flowers or seeds. See PhytomorphicAttributes.


A geometric design having two symmetrical lines which could be described as a pipe with bulges. The ends of the pipe may be either open or closed. There are frequently additional decorations either inside the bulges or outside the narrow segments of the pipe. See PipettesAttributes.


Includes a large number of lines and shapes that include symmetry or repetition as part of the design. See GeometricAttributes.


An element which appears composed of lines or shapes which curve in a random manner and appear as prehistoric doodling. This may include elements suspected of being maps. Abstract designs are never symmetrical. See AbstractAttributes.


Elements which are damaged beyond recognition, obstructed from view or crudely manufactured. See IndeterminateAttributes.

Grinding Feature

Includes bedrock metates, mortars, slicks, cupules, notched and ground boulder edges. Excludes portable metates, ax heads, shaft straighteners, and any flaked stone tools. See GrindingFeatureAttributes.

Proposed Changes

If you have suggestions which add, delete, combine attributes or change the word used to define a class, then please copy the current class definition above, including the Rock Art Classes 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 original author's proposed changes should be made directly to the text, competing versions should be documented as complete revised copies including the heading.

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

RockArtClasses (last edited 2010-07-19 16:06:26 by RogerHaase)

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