Petroglyphs: Ancient Rock Art

Article excerpt

With the rising interest in petroglyphs, pictographs and the preservation of ancient rock art sites, I decided to create a project concerning our state's most ancient art. In Texas, there has been a movement to raise the level of concern about these sites. Mysterious shaman figures loom on giant cliffs in Seminole Canyon Historical Park. What are these mysterious paintings all about? What can we learn about these people and their culture? Where are they now? What is happening to rock art and how is it being destroyed? More questions will be raised than answered.

Ancient Rocks in America

This project concerning rock art was well suited to a fifth grade ceramic project. To begin, I showed examples of rock art as we discussed how and why it may have been created. We discussed the possible meanings of various examples and how they were used in ceremonies. Many sites give us insight into historical events. The class was fascinated by the fact that America has ancient rock art.

The students created simplified drawings of animals, stories, and symbols. When their drawings were finished, they transferred them onto a Styrofoam tray by placing the drawing on top of the tray and tracing their lines with a pencil -- pressing firmly.

Introducing Clay

Before we began to work with the clay, I discussed clay properties and gave a demonstration on wedging and slab making. After a good slab was created (about the thickness of a pencil), students pressed the slab into their Styrofoam trays. When they lifted the clay from the tray the petroglyph drawing was imprinted on the slabs. Have students trim the slab into a rock form and clean up the edges. Dry the greenware and fire in a bisque firing.

Painting the Petroglyphs

After the bisque firing, we painted the Petroglyphs with rock colors, trying to avoid straight black. We used a mixture of colors to enrich the pieces. …