Robert G. Bednarik

Robert G. Bednarik
Hebei Normal University · International Centre for Rock Art Dating

Professor

About

483
Publications
307,746
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6,083
Citations
Citations since 2016
141 Research Items
2416 Citations
20162017201820192020202120220100200300400500600
20162017201820192020202120220100200300400500600
20162017201820192020202120220100200300400500600
20162017201820192020202120220100200300400500600

Publications

Publications (483)
Article
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The replacement hypothesis proposes that “modern humans” evolved only in sub-Saharan Africa, through a speciation event rendering them unable to breed with other hominins. They then spread throughout Africa, then to Asia, Australia and finally to Europe, replacing all other humans by exterminating or outcompeting them. In this critical analysis of...
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Prompted by numerous endeavours to link a variety of brain illnesses/conditions with the introduction of palaeoart, especially rock art, the author reviews these proposals in the light of the causes of these psychiatric conditions. Several of these proposals are linked to the assumption that palaeoart was introduced through shamanism. It is demonst...
Article
Low-grade metamorphics such as slates and schists tend to be subjected to relatively rapid surface deterioration by both weathering and fluvial wear. If the rate at which such processes are effective on these relatively soft rocks could be calibrated through their effects on surfaces of known ages, this would provide a possibility of estimating the...
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The recent discovery of the first authentic Pleistocene rock art in central Europe is reported in one of the classical Palaeolithic cave sites investigated for centuries. The Drachen-höhle in Austria has yielded extensive evidence of human habitation in the Würm I/II Inter-stadial 325 m from its entrance, in total darkness. The cave art occurs a fe...
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A week-long expedition of attempting microerosion dating of petroglyphs was conducted in Garze Tibet Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, and Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province, in western China in August 2019. Zoomorphic petroglyphs dominate the extensive rock art of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. A total of twelve petroglyph si...
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A review of the history of uranium-series dating of fossil bone and calcite skins related to rock paintings reveals significant limitations to the credibility of many such results. The 'closed system' conditions required do not seem to apply to many ancient faunal remains and may be lacking in many cases also in the types of speleothems frequently...
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El propósito del registro de las quilcas o arte rupestre es crear una memoria visual de los aspectos de esta evidencia que se consideran "importantes", y una base de datos para su conservación y gestión. La principal difi cultad al abordar el tema del registro es que, independientemente de lo pueda sustentar aquí, es probable que muchas cosas quede...
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The proposed sensational Middle Pleistocene dating of the hand and footprints found at the Qiusang site in Tibet has involved a method that numerous authors have considered unsuitable for poorly crys-tallised reprecipitated carbonate deposits. This is an open-air site, and precipitation should be expected to severely affect its travertine's U-Th ra...
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Domestication is a process of protecting a particular set of individuals from some influences of their natural environment and managing their reproduction to suit particular needs of a domesticator. Biological characteristics of modern humans are a result of the process of auto-domestication that is continuing. Thus, they include disadvantages occu...
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The discovery of a previously unknown rock art complex is reported from northern Saudi Arabia. It is located roughly halfway between two major rock art precincts recently added to the World Heritage List, but will be preserved in pristine forensic condition by not disclosing its very isolated location. The rock art complex includes an extensive gal...
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The article reviews the global evidence of underground mining of the Pleistocene. The most numerous cases occur in Australia, and they are the focus of the work. Subterranean Ice Age mining has targeted chert and hematite deposits, and at some sites demonstrates an understanding of the geological strata, as unproductive material was systematically...
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In an effort to illustrate the difficulties of reliably discriminating between petroglyphs and a variety of other types of rock markings which may resemble them, a range of such rock markings are considered. Their characteristics, occurrence and identification are discussed, and a dozen basic types of rock markings are defined, most of which have b...
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One of the discipline's most debated subjects in recent years concerns the transition from the so-called Middle Palaeolithic 'cultures' to the cultural divisions archaeologists claim to characterise the period they call the Upper Palaeolithic. This is because that separation is often claimed to mark the arrival of 'modern' humans. That misunderstan...
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During the late 1980s and the early 1990s, rock art conservation received unprecedented attention in Australia. The article describes the practices and strategies developed through this work.
Chapter
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Parowan Gap is a major petroglyph site in Utah. The article describes the results of a preliminary investigation of the site. Most of the rock art is in open locations, but there are also two small caves containing petroglyphs. Some of these extend below the top of the sediment.
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This paper is part of a debate, addressing the significance of Palaeolithic cave art. It explains aspects of the epistemology of this topic.
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The article is a response to numerous recent claims about rock art dating results, explaining how many of them are not epistemologically or logically sound.
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This article addresses the beginnings of maritime colonisation in the Lower Palaeolithic. It explores this topic in the context of human evolution and the archaeological evidence of the presence of hominins on the islands of Flores and Timor in Indonesia in the late part of the Early Pleistocene. The replication attempts of the first landfall in Au...
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The first direct dating of northern Italian petroglyphs is reported from Rupe Magna near Grosio. A few of the several thousand motifs at the site were analysed by the microerosion method. The age of an anthropomorphic was estimated to be 5000-6000 years, that of a cupule is only of an early historical period.
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The article addresses the non-Palaeolithic component of what has archaeologically been assigned to 'Palaeolithic art', usually on the basis of 'style'. In particular, the paper examines the tendency of European archaeologists to pronounce as Palaeolithic rock art sites that comprise only Holocene traditions. Numerous examples are briefly examined....
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The archaeological significance of beads and pendants is discussed from the point of view of the cognitive evolution of humans. Evidence is discussed for the presence of beads from the Acheulian period onwards and experimental manufacture of ostrich eggshell beads was undertaken.
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This review of the maritime colonisation evidence of the Ice Ages first considers the available evidence from Europe. It then focuses on the earliest such reliable evidence we have, which is from the Wallacean islands of Indonesia, especially Flores. That island was first settled in the late part of the Early Pleistocene, at least 800,000 years ago...
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The earliest forms of art-like productions found in the world's rock art are presented, as well as some very early portable objects. The article has appeared in thirty-two languages.
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The article begins with a review of the timing of the continent's first occupation by hominins. A detailed discussion of the earliest known forms of palaeoart follows. The 'archaic linear traditions', still of the Pleistocene, are then examined, as well as the continent's cave art.
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This comprehensive discussion of the world's palaeoart divides the earliest available evidence into Lower and Middle Palaeolithic materials. These are surprisingly consistent across the continents, although their nature is to some degree determined by taphonomy. Iconography is introduced in the latter part of the Late Pleistocene. The article discu...
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The archaeological distribution of ostrich eggshell beads, both spatially and temporally, is reviewed on the basis of current evidence. They first appeared in Acheulian times and until very recent history have been produced in vast numbers. The production sequence of the early forms has been investigated through replication with stone tool replicas...
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This paper reviews significant misunderstandings concerning the earliest evidence of human colonizations involving sea travel. In particular, the navigational ability of Homo erectus is considered, and its implications for the technological, cognitive and intellectual capability of that species. Some of the epistemological implications for heuristi...
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The article includes a comprehensive listing and discussion of the methods that have been used in direct rock art dating up to 1996, or which conceivably could be used in the future. A broadly based approach is advocated in scientific palaeoart studies, which should include a practice of comprehensive recording of geomorphic details of rock art pan...
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This review of recent developments in the study of Palaeolithic art explains some of the factors that have led to a crisis of confidence in this field. In particular, the mounting difficulties experienced with the dating of rock art, the tenuous status of stylistic models, the inadequate understanding of taphonomic effects on palaeoart are found to...
Chapter
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The first major rock art preservation project in Russia is being conducted in central Sibe¬ria. It addresses the considerable conservation problems at a series of petroglyph and rock painting sites along the Lena River and some of its tributaries, in a sparsely populated region north of Irkutsk. Having acted as a voluntary consultant for the projec...
Chapter
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The archaeological evidence for knotting in the Pleistocene is reviewed, beginning with the knotting ability possessed by apes and reviewing the Lower to Upper Palaeolithic evidence on record.
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The article considers the numerous shortcomings of traditional approaches to rock art dating before it examines direct dating. The historical development of that methodology is described and the methods applied up to 1996 are defined, as well as potential future developments. Of particular significance is the following discussion of the archaeologi...
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The physical and archaeological context of a rock art panel in the central site of the Bhim¬betka complex in central India is described. The petroglyphs are analysed, with particular attention given to their microerosion surface state. This leads to preliminary propositions about their possible age. Although these remain inconclusive, they do tend...
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This paper considers briefly aspects of the dating of cupules and other petroglyphs. The shortcomings of various archeological approaches are discussed, followed by an introduction to the direct dating of rock art. The methodology of this new and generally scientific approach is introduced and the main techniques are briefly described. the paper co...
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The article is a response to a feminist attempt to explain the anthropomorphous figurines of the Upper Palaeolithic of Eurasia. However, in a more general sense, it responds to all the mistaken archaeological hypotheses about this particularly badly misinterpreted corpus of evidence. One major obstacle is the lack of a formal and chronological defi...
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The candidates that have been proposed over the years, for either Pleistocene rock art or portable art, from central Europe are reviewed comprehensively. It is shown that none of them is authrntic.
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This paper summarises very briefly the developments since 1995, concerning the controversial petroglyph corpus in the lower Côa valley in north-eastern Portugal. New dating evidence is presented and discussed. Archaeological research results and geomorphological models from the Côa valley are considered, including the excavations of several occupat...
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The paper describes the methods employed to remove rock art from its original location. It also explains why this practice is rejected by rock art conservators.
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The paper explains why so much of the oldest known palaeoart in the world seems to consist of cupules.
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A critical review of the traditional taxonomy of Pleistocene archaeology emphasizes a number of aspects suggesting the need for a more appropriate system. In particular it is proposed that the focus on tools, especially stone tools, could be replaced with an emphasis on cultural indicators. A system based on technological, cognitive and cultural va...
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The largest concentration of petroglyphs in the world is reputed to be that of the Pilbara, a mountainous arid region of north-western Australia. The first credible age estimations of a few individual motifs of this major rock art corpus are presented here. They were made possible by the discovery of a series of historical inscriptions in the regio...
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The article reviews the archaeological evidence for the early Pleistocene maritime colonisation of Wallacean islands. It then describes the earliest stage of experimental work trying to determine how Lower Palaeolithic hominins might reasonably have conducted the required several maritime crossings.
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This paper explains the proposed methods of monitoring the deterioration of the vast petroglyph corpus of the Dampier Archipelago in Western Australia. It then reviews their efficacy and proposes that the program by the site managers is a recipe for failure. This prediction turned out to be fully true several years later, after the huge expenditure...
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This brief paper reports the dating of some Pilbara petroglyphs in Western Australia to the Pleistocene.
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This paper examines some of the cognitive and intellectual changes that may have led to the ability of hominins to make 'conscious' decisions based on cultural percepts or concepts. The human constructs of reality derived from neurophysiological predispositions have not only formed our perceptions of the world, they even appear to have contributed...
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Portugal’s most important rock art finds of the last three decades all have a rather unfortunate association with dam projects. Considering that there are hydroelectric and holding reservoirs on almost all the major rivers in Portugal, it was almost inevitable that rock art would be affected by some of these projects. The history of this associatio...
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The question of the earliest currently known rock art is considered, focusing on very early anthropogenic rock markings in central India. The implications of taphonomic logic are considered to show that the most convenient interpretation of the available evidence is not necessarily the most parsimonious.
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Modern rock art dating began with the analysis of secondary calcite deposits in an Australian cave that are directly and physically related to petroglyphs sandwiched between them. Since then, further work has been conducted but has resulted in more questions than answers. This paper summarises the research so far conducted on the isotopic geochemis...
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This paper is a response to another, The author proposes that what the eye perceives is largely determined by expectation.
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The results of microerosion analysis applied to a series of Australian petroglyphs are briefly reported.
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The paper reports the discovery of a petroglyph panel at a rock art site in the remote Pilbara of Western Australia that includes the letter 'H' and the number '1771'', together with petroglyphs featuring metal markings. One petroglyph seems to depict a ship's steering wheel. The composition suggests that a shipwrecked or abandoned sailor lived amo...
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The brief paper explains the relevance of lichenometry to rock art dating and its limitations.
Chapter
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A review of trends in the archaeological interpretation of scientific results of attempts to estimate the age of rock-imagery allows attribution of various difficulties to faulty epistemology. The limitations of dating based on radiocarbon analysis when applied to rock-pictures, in particular the universal presence of organic matter in substrates,...
Chapter
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The basis of microerosion analysis as a tool in estimating the age of petroglyphs is briefly considered as are some of its applications, in particular, the three 'blind tests' of the method conducted in three European countries. A description of the various advantages of the method as well as its disadvantages shows that the former outweigh the lat...
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This paper is a refutation of the claim that a petroglyph panel at the Fariseu site in the Coa valley of northern Portugal has been archaeologically dated. It is shown that the evidence derives from colluvium, which is unsuitable sediment for archaeological dating. Also, at least one of the equine figures wears a bridle, which is incompatible with...
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This is a comment on Derek Hodgson's article ‘Art, perception and information processing: an evolutionary perspective’. It considers why refutation is the cornerstone of scientific discourse.
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Taxonomies, archaeological, traditional or scientific, are all based on what are perceived to be the common denominators of phenomenon categories, and on which ones of them are selected as the crucial ones (Crucial Common Denominator of Phenomenon Category, or CCD). That decision is subjective, which means that different metaphysical systems are li...
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This article about Pleistocene seafaring reports the first of eight replication experiments exploring the maritime skills of Lower Palaeolithic hominins of the Early Pleistocene, particularly in the islands of Wallacea (Indonesia).
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The isotopic geochemistry relating to the re-precipitation of calcite in caves containing rock art is considered, in terms of theory, natural manifestations, and relationship with questions of radiometric dating of carbonate speleothems. Specific forms of such deposits are considered, toge¬ther with the various modification processes to which they...
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An experiment is reported of crossing the Timor Sea between Timor and Australia on a bamboo raft made with the help of Middle Palaeolithic stone tool replicas. This journey was necessary to initially colonise the Australian continent from Indonesia >60,000 years ago.
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A phenomenon found in an African cave has been misidentified as cupules occurring on the cave walls. It is in fact a natural phenomenon called solution scallops.
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The age of the petroglyphs of the site Siega Verde in far western Spain is reviewed. The archaeological claims that they are of Upper Palaeolithic antiquity are examined and refuted. They were based on perceived style and mistaken identifications of animal species.
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Parmi les zoomorphes proposés pour démontrer un âge pléistocène, le rhinocéros laineux a fait figure de favori pendant une bonne partie du XX e siècle. Un exemple récemment porté à notre attention est celui du site orné de Tayuan dans le District de Xinlin, Heilongjiang Province, dans la région chinoise de l'Amur, partie la plus au nord du pays. Ce...
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The most extensive corpus of ancient immovable cultural heritage is that of global rock art. Estimating its age has traditionally been challenging, rendering it difficult to integrate archaeological evidence of early cultural traditions. The dating of Chinese rock art by ‘direct methods’ began in the late 1990s in Qinghai Province. Since then, Chin...
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Following the refutation of the replacement hypothesis, which had proposed that a ‘superior’ hominin species arose in Africa and replaced all other humans existing at the time, the auto-domestication hypothesis remains the only viable explanation for the relatively abrupt change from robust to gracile humans in the Late Pleistocene. It invokes the...
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Several research developments of recent years imply the possibility that knowledge about the original meaning, significance and production of rock art may be available from various parts of the world besides Australia. It has been well known since the 19th century that ethnographically accessible interpretation of rock art is often obtainable from...
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The competence of humans to create and apply constructs of reality far exceeds that of any other animal species. Their ability to consciously manipulate such models seems unique, but it remains unknown how these abilities were initially acquired and then developed. Most individuals hold strong, culturally-anchored beliefs that their particular real...
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A reconsideration of the application of 230Th/234U analysis to thin accretionary skins of re-precipitated carbonate to secure minimum or maximum ages for physically related rock art suggests that the controversy it has created can be resolved. A program to test the method’s results indicates that such calcite skins tend to yield age estimates that...
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This paper examines the reliability of uranium-series analysis when applied to the dating of carbonate speleothem skins in caves. It is shown that such results are unreliable for several reasons, but most especially because continuing moisture availability tends to mobilise the uranium content until the age estimate is many times too great. Recent...
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This brief paper examines the controversy concerning the reliability of U/Th dating of reprecipitated calcite skins as used for rock art age determination. It adds significantly to the discussion between those who support its use in caves, and those who have reservations about its efficacy. Whenever such analyses were combined with 14C determinatio...
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Most of the differences between humans and other animals still endorsed in the 20th century have now been refuted. Even theory of mind, self-awareness, recursion and metarepresentation are losing their eminence as exclusively human variables. This may leave us with just one distinguishing trait: the talent of creating and using memory traces extern...
Article
After well over a century of archaeological research in Drachenhöhle, the largest cave bear lair in the Alps, the first Pleistocene rock art in central Europe has been discovered deep in the cave. Two small panels of juvenile finger flutings occur together with cave bear claw marks at the only water source of the area. The site is within a few metr...
Article
It has long been appreciated that there are many applications of tribology in the geological sciences. These range in scale from microscopic levels to those of intercontinental tectonic processes. Some of the key aspects of geotribology are briefly discussed to illustrate the advantages of such an interdisciplinary approach, before exploring the ev...
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Contrary to the widely held belief that iconic palaeoart precedes aniconic during the early history of humans, palaeoart commenced as non-iconic forms, and in most parts of the world then settled by hominins continued as such during the Pleistocene. The forms, development and global distribution of such palaeoart are presented within the framework...
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The first direct-dating work of rock art in Hubei Province, China, is reported. A series of over one hundred rock exposures were investigated in the Huai River area near the town of Tongbai, a hilly and wooded granite terrain, using microerosion analysis. Cupules dominate the extensive petroglyph traditions and eight preliminary age estimates obtai...
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Tribology, the science of interacting surfaces in relative motion, is at the basis of interpreting rock art and portable palaeoart by scientific means, and yet it has remained almost entirely ignored in that application. Tribological work conducted with palaeoart, but without involving its discipline, is briefly summarised, and examples are cited t...
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Definition 1. Brief history of rock art studies Although the earliest literary mentions of rock art are from China, no publication about Chinese rock art had appeared in English until 1984. The philosopher Han Fei (280-233 BCE) provided the first known reference to rock art, while the geographer Li Daoyuan (386-434 CE) described numerous rock art s...
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Victorian rock art in its Australian context is considered, focusing on petroglyphs and the natural markings mistaken for rock art. Nearly all known Victorian petroglyphs occur in limestone caves, with only three minor sites currently reported to be above ground. These occurrences are described briefly, and an explanation of their distribution in t...
Article
Full-text available
The first direct-dating work of rock art in Hubei Province, China, is reported. A series of over one hundred rock exposures were investigated in the Huai River area near the town of Tongbai, a hilly and wooded granite terrain, using microerosion analysis. Cupules dominate the extensive petroglyph traditions and eight preliminary age estimates obtai...
Chapter
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Auditorium Cave at the World Heritage-listed site complex of Bhimbetka in central India was the first site in the world whose rock art was attributed to the Lower Palaeolithic. The archaeological background to this discovery is described, particularly the nature of the pre-Acheulian or Mode 1 lithic industries of India. Bearing in mind that there a...
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A form of natural rock marking is described from a site on the coast of Fujian in China. Having been defined as rock art, it has now been found to be natural, caused by the release of massive kinetic energy in collisions between large blocks of granite. A combination of compressive and tensile stresses has yielded geometric changes to the fabric of...
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The objective of this work was to test the hypothesis that weathering-resistant surface layers found in intensively hammered petroglyphs at many sites worldwide and on other heavily battered metamorphosed rocks are the result of kinetic energy-induced tribological reactions. The methods of material testing included extensive fieldwork and in-situ s...
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This paper reviews current developments in microerosion analysis, including the testing of a universal calibration curve based on regional precipitation. This enables the use of the method in regions that are unlikely to provide suitable calibration surfaces. The paper also considers the creation of the archive of the International Centre of Rock A...
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Daraki-Chattan Cave, a Lower Palaeolithic cupule site in the Chambal basin in India, is one of the oldest known rock art sites in the world. Containing more than 500 cu-pules, it has been studied by the EIP Project since 2000 and the sediment deposits at the cave's entrance have been excavated. This paper presents an analysis of the cupules in the...
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A number of rock-markings on a small island off the coast of Fujian Province, China, believed to be petroglyphs are analysed. They are found to be a new class of natural phenomena that are defined as 'compressive-tensile rock markings'.
Book
Tribology, the science of interacting surfaces in relative motion, has traditionally focused on technological applications, although some attention has been given to geotribology and tribochemistry. This volume explores the geological applications of tribology in some detail, before introducing the entirely new subdisciplines of archaeotribology an...

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