MORE THAN THE MOTIFS: THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF ROCK ART IN ARID REGIONS OF THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE
Hernández Llosas,María Isabel
Three regional rock art studies undertaken in the southern hemisphere (northwest central Queensland in Australia, Lluta Valley in northern Chile and Quebrada de Humahuaca in Northwest Argentina) are analysed. Based on the relationships between rock art and other aspects of the physical, social and chronological context of its production, we show the articulation between the production of rock art and past social strategies. The three examples demónstrate many consistencies in the way rock art has been utilised in arid environments while also identifying regionally distinct variations in technique and function. In each of the arid regions, competition aróse for limited and valued resources. In each example, the production of rock art was used as a powerful tool to negotiate newly arising circumstances in order to ensure predictable and desirable economic and social outcomes for the artists' group. The methods and form used to achieve these outcomes varied in each case study, because of the availability of materials for art production, the topography and environmental conditions in each specific área, particular cultural preferences and the ways in which people utilised art. In northwest central Queensland the rock art assemblage was employed for the negotiation of group identity at several levéis. In the Lluta Valley, the geoglyphs embody social, political and economical aspirations, being produced as a means of legitimating the access of lama caravans to the coast and its resources. In the Quebrada de Humahuaca increased competition for resources led to the production of different rock art assemblages; the herders produced panels that played roles such as marking grazing territories, commemorating past events and most significantly, as part of the ritual life of the herders.