Kevin Conti and William Walker
This chapter explores the performance of light and shadows in two ancestral Pueblo rock art sites in southeast Utah. These sites possess anthropomorphic rock faces and modified features to create both anthropomorphic and zoomorphic images that we argue derive from mythological traditions of Pueblo peoples. Specifically, light/shadow patterns at these sites produce and interact with Bear and War Twin imagery on prominent dates of the solar calendar. Traditionally such imagery would be approached through rock art studies in terms of motifs and symbolic interpretations. The celestial component would be addressed by archaeoastronomers. Using object agency theory, we seek to contextualize these data as places where people communicated with their Bear and War Twin deities.
The most intensively studied societies within Southwest archaeology—the Ancestral “Pueblos”—have been defined by their architecture. Stark village ruins of stone and adobe, some perched high in cliff settings, dot much of the region and are today its major tourist attractions. But as this chapter demonstrates, the architecture and built landscapes of the greater Southwest were vastly more diverse, ranging from the ephemeral wikiup-like structures of early hunter-gatherers, to the various pithouse forms and configurations of the Archaic and later periods, to the monumental trincheras, ball courts, and platform mounds of the southern Southwest, to the great kivas, great houses, and road systems of the Chacoan world. This chapter surveys that diversity and considers the way the built environment has been mobilized as evidence to make claims about social and political organization, religion practice, cosmology, mobility, and scale of collective labor projects within studies of ancient Southwest communities.
Marit K. Munson and Kelley Hays-Gilpin
Images from archaeological sites are often engaging, sometimes mysterious, and always seem full of potential for insight into the lives and thoughts of people from the past. Unfortunately, most research into archaeological images relies on a narrow range of art historical methods and on parallels with ethnographic information. These approaches are valuable, but unnecessarily limited. In this chapter, we encourage researchers to expand their understanding of images, exploring how perceptual and social theories of pictures shape our understanding of meaning and discussing the benefits and drawbacks of formal, informed, and artifactual approaches to studying pictures. We also review major temporal and cultural patterns in image traditions in the Southwest, illustrating how iconography yields important insights into cosmologies, values, the advent and spread of religious movements, macro regional interactions, and social dynamics in the past.
Alex K. Ruuska
In this chapter, the author investigates how distinctive pictograph and petroglyph traditions promote emplacement, a sense of the cultural past, and ancestral memory of seminal events and foundational epistemological and ontological understandings. In doing so, the author examines the integrated emplaced materiality of memory performances at Agawa, an Ojibway rock art site in the Canadian Shield on the northern shore of Lake Superior, through narratives, representations, objects, ritual behaviours, places, and placelings. Following Latour (2005), the author suggests that places are actants within broader actor-networks involved in creative dialogic memory-making processes. This interpretation can potentially inform broader anthropological concerns, including the dichotomous thinking underlying materialism and idealism.
Ursula K. Frederick
This chapter explores the relationship between graffiti and rock art in the context of archaeological and heritage studies. It outlines how archaeologists, and particularly rock art scholars, have approached graffiti and addresses the complexities of terminology and contested values common to this field of study. The author argues against an oversimplified polemic that has hampered the progression of graffiti/rock art research, suggesting that much may be learned about processes of identification, evaluation, and interpretation by considering graffiti and rock art as associated, albeit distinct, practices of inscription. Through an investigation of two specific sites of historical inscription—Alcatraz Island (San Francisco, US) and the North Head Quarantine Station (Sydney, Australia)—the chapter demonstrates the powerful role that inscription practices play in the making and unmaking of places and the meanings they carry.
Thirty Days of Night: The Role of Light and Shadow in Inuit Architecture, North of the Arctic Circle
Peter Dawson and Richard Levy
The extended periods of daylight and darkness that characterize Arctic and Antarctic regions make them unique places on earth. At a location 250km north of the Arctic Circle, for example, polar night can last for upwards of 30 days during the winter months. These periods of darkness become increasingly longer as one moves to higher latitudes. It is therefore surprising that comparatively little research has explored how historic Inuit societies and their predecessors adapted to the challenges posed by these extremesThis is especially pertinent given that winter was a time for manufacturing, repairing, and maintaining hide clothing and a plethora of tools used for animal harvesting activities. Recent computer simulations of illumination levels within pre-contact Inuit dwellings demonstrate that lighting may have been strategically used to make interior spaces appear larger, to enhance the metaphorical associations of dwellings with sea mammals, and to facilitate the completion of complex tasks.