Rock art interpretive approaches - Devising frameworks to maximally utilise independent lines of evidence

Frederick E. Hardtke*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Past cultures in all the major continents have, for millennia, developed symbolic systems and iconographies whose depictions spanned a multiplicity of media, including rock art as well as ceramic decoration and other physical forms. This is an area which has long been recognised, but requires further investigation and research for any meaningful conclusions to be drawn - particularly regarding its potential to assist in the meaning and chronology of rock art. Taken together with other data such as the contrasting distribution of archaeological sites and rock art locations, we may form independent lines of evidence, not conclusive in their own right, but when combined can provide convincing arguments toward specific chronology and attribution. Indeed, each rock art site needs to have its own tailored interpretive framework, devised to maximally exploit the available archaeological and other data to assist in the understanding of the rock art. This paper will describe a multidimensional methodology to rock art chronological and cultural attribution using an approach applied at the site of Hierakonpolis, Upper Egypt which is known for its late Predynastic and Early Dynastic settlement and funerary localities, occurring adjacent to rock beds and hills incorporating rock art and inscriptions from a span of ages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-27
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017


  • Egypt
  • Interpretation methodology
  • Predynastic
  • Rock art


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