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date: 29 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

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.

Keywords: art, images, iconography, rock art, pottery, murals

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