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WHAT DO THESE SYMBOLS MEAN? A CRITICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGES FOUND ON THE ROCKS

WHAT DO THESE SYMBOLS MEAN? A CRITICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGES FOUND ON THE ROCKS OF THE CANADIAN SHIELD WITH SPECIFIC REFERENCE TO THE PICTOGRAPHS OF THE LAKE OF THE WOODS Author(s): Alicia J.M. COLSON Source: Revista de Arqueología Americana, No. 25, MANIFESTACIONES SIMBÓLICAS EN MESO Y NORTE AMÉRICA (2007), pp. 101-185

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WHAT DO THESE SYMBOLS MEAN? A CRITICAL REVIEW OF THE IMAGESFOUND ON THE ROCKS OF THE CANADIANSHIELD WITH SPECIFIC REFERENCE TO THE PICTOGRAPHS OF THE LAKEOF THEWOODS

Alicia J. M. COLSON*

Abstract

This article not only surveys

but critically comments

on

the publications

of

those researchers

who have worked

on the Lake of theWoods.

Italso

refers

to studies

in other regions on the Canadian

Shield.

Previous

studies

have

utilised different paradigms

particular approaches, methods, and framework of different approaches adopted by previous work. For the frontiers of research can only be pushed

forward if every generation

and

had

their own opinions

as

to the value

re-examines

of

the

of researchers

challenges surveys of previous work should

and

work of its predecessors.

Such

form part of

which

and problems

a base

is founded on a solid understanding

of the fundamental

issues

of the field at hand. Each

investigator must conduct

a detailed

survey and analysis of their predecessor's

establish which approach

previous

and the frameworks that have been utilized. The studies

categorized

work. This

to enable

have

them to

the

has

been

the most

popular, what

what

have

been

been

the methods

findings, what were

according

their premises,

reviewed have been

to the theoretical

approach

taken by the principal

investigator of the study. The author concludes

with a short discussion

of her

rationale

in choosing

and establishing

the sequence

of several

theoretical

approaches

for use

in path breaking

research.

4243

rue Gamier,

Apt. 21, Montreal,

Quebec,

Canada,

H2J 3R7.

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102

Revista

de Arqueolog?a

Americana

No.

25

Resumen

?Qu?

encontradas

las pictograf?as

Este

aquellos

de

significan

en

estos

las rocas

s?mbolos?

del Escudo

Una

revisi?n

im?genes con referencia espec?fica

a

las publicaciones of the Woods.

Canadiense.

Se

Los

cr?tica de

las

Canadiense

de Lake of theWoods

art?culo no s?lo

revisa sino que comenta han

que

trabajado

cr?ticamente

en Lake

investigadores

refiere tambi?n a los estudios

en otras regiones del Escudo

estudios

opiniones

como

previos

han utilizado diferentes

al valor

referencia

Las

de

de

paradigmas

y tuvieron sus propias

particulares,

adoptados

s?lo

pueden

y re-examina

as?

por

ser

la

en cuanto

de

los enfoques

y m?todos

enfoques

al marco

los diferentes

de

de

investigadores

la

revisiones

base

que

y problemas

debe

trabajos anteriores. si cada

empujadas labor de sus

deber?an

comprensi?n

nos

detallado

enfoque

cu?les

ocupa.

fronteras

investigaci?n

de

se

desaf?a

generaci?n

predecesores.

de

trabajo de sus

el m?s

Estas

una

las investigaciones

fundamenta

en

una

previas

s?lida

del ?mbito que

formar parte

de

Cada

del

ha sido

fueron sus

las cuestiones

investigador

fundamentales

una

revisi?n

realizar

y les permite establecer

los hallazgos

y

un an?lisis

qu?

de

predecesores.

cu?les

Esto

han sido

popular,

anteriores,

los marcos

se han clasificado

premisas, han sido utilizados.

cu?les

han sido

los m?todos

Los estudios

revisados

referencia que

de acuerdo con el enfoque te?rico adoptado estudio. La autora concluye

para elegir y establecer una secuencia de varios enfoques te?ricos a usar en

una

por el investigador principal del

sobre su justificaci?n

con una breve discusi?n

investigaci?n de vanguardia.

R?sum?

Que

veulent

ces

trouv?es dans

dires

rupestres

symboles? le bouclier Canadien

Une

?valuation

critiques des images

avec une attention particuli?re

pour

Dans

des publications

qu'ailleurs

paradigmes

la r?gion du

lac des Bois

de ceux

cet article nous

sur

effectuons

et celles

un survol ainsi qu'une

qui ont dans

?valuation

critique

ainsi

la r?gion du ant?rieures

de

r?f?rence

lac de Bois

ont utilis? des

quant ? la valeur des

le bouclier Canadien.

Les ?tudes

leurs propres opinions

diff?rents et ont eu m?thodes

Car

diff?rentes

ant?rieures.

chaque

approches,

et cadres

des

approches

que

si

les

les limites de

de

la recherche

ne peuvent ?tre ?tendues

de

et

g?n?rations

ses

chercheurs

De

d'une

remets en question

tel survols

solide

r?examine

travaux de

devraient

probl?mes

entreprendre

pr?d?cesseurs.

la base

recherches

des

Chaque

r?pandue,

et

ant?rieures

questions

chercheur

et

doit

Ceci

les cadres

former

compr?hension

fondamentaux

du domaine

en question.

un survol et l'analyse

approche

de

les pr?mices

des

travaux de ses

a

?t?

base,

la plus

pr?d?cesseurs. la nature de

de

leur permet d'?tablir quelle

leurs d?couvertes,

les m?thodes

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What

do These

Symbols

Mean?.

103

ant?rieures

th?orique. L'auteur conclue avec une courte discussion

r?f?rence. Ici nous avons cat?goris?

les ?tudes

selon

l'approche

expliquant

son

raisonnement pour ?tablir une s?quence d'approches dans de la recherche de fine pointe.

th?oriques

? utiliser

Resumo

O que

encontradas

os pictograf?as do Lake of theWoods

Este artigo nao faz apenas

publica??es

se refere tamb?m aos

estudos

opini?o

diferentes pesquisas

que

predecessores.

parte da

problemas fundament?is do campo em quest?o. Cada

conduzir urna an?lise

predecessores.

abordagem

tem sido os m?todos

premissas,

estes

s?mbolos

significam? rochas do Canadian

que

Urna

Shield

revis?o

cr?tica das

imagens

para

?as

com referencia especifica

comenta

um levantamento, mas trabalharam

regioes

criticamente

as

Ele

Os

pr?pria

dos pesquisadores

no Lake of The Woods.

do Canadian

Shield.

e

tem sua

e o quadro

estudos

de outras

utilizaram

diferentes

pesquisadores

de

do

levantamento

a

constru?ao

e um levantamento

precedentes

paradigmas

da pesquisa

examine

conhecimento

detalhado

sobre o valor de abordagens

gera?ao

base

mais

quais

O

para

revistos

adotadas.

de

Para

e m?todos

que

trabalhos

particulares

avance

o

das

? necess?rio

de

seus

fazer

e

deve

seus

temas

a

cada

trabalho

precedentes

acordo

s?lido

dos

de

e

O

as

deveria

dos

pesquisador

trabalhos

tem

dos

Isto permite o estabelecimento

popular, quais

foram os achados

e os

foram classificados

quadro

de

qual pr?vios, quais foram as de referencia utilizados. com

abordagens autor conclu? com

da

sido

Os

estudos

te?ricas

urna

seq??ncia

usadas

pelo principal pesquisador

da

sua

raz?o

na

do estudo.

escolha

curta

discussao

estabelecimento

de diferentes abordagens

te?ricas para usar na pesquisa.

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104

Revista

de Arqueolog?a

Americana

No.

25

Introduction

The collection and interpretation of data are intergenerational processes in

which each

thework of its

new generation

of scholars

amplifies, and modifies

predecessors.

understood

This

is clearly

and developed.

On

a

truism; the

implications of this are

rarely

the one hand most

investigators work within

their own paradigm.

This does

not render them immune from criticism, set in

aspic. This article surveys the publications of researchers working on the

pictograph and petroglyph sites in the Lake of theWoods

been

approaches

pictograph sites, and the way materials were examined.

comparison emerges,

the most

the

area.

Iestablish

A

new data

which

have

popular,

previous

which

findings on

standard

can

of

be

of

to become

a yardstick against

examined. Much of this article is specifically

concerned

with the analysis

the pictograph

to studies of sites elsewhere on the Canadian Shield.

sites of the Lake of theWoods

sections.

The

area, but references

first discusses

(with

three

emphasis

used

to describe

are made

the earliest

subsections)

The

literature falls into seven

of

the technical

these

The

second

investigations

images. literaturewith special

(b)

the vocabulary

examines

of the sites into sections,

on (a) the subdivision

the images

(c)

the development

the works

of the recording techniques.

that present

the technical

The

analysis

to record

thirdsection

of these

is concerned

It is

and

the different

with

sites.

the pictographs

subdivided

into (a)

the techniques

used

petroglyphs and

methods

(b) the conservationof the pictographs and

used to analyse them. The final sections critique the archaeological

literature. They cover five approaches:

culture-historical,

contextual,

intuitive,

These

analogical

should

first two

stages first implement the culture-historical

and

and

homological.

complementary

Figure

theoretical

1). Flaws

approaches

in each

of the

must

approach,

These

from other

an

the remaining

to

indicate

evidence

these

be employed

will

in a specific order (see

limitthe effectiveness

approach,

textual

researchers

of all others. An archaeologist then the contextual

approach.

finally either the intuitive, analogical,

are

approaches contemporaneous In their absence

important

to interpret the manner

systematic

behaviour

or homological

must

inwhich

theoretical

disciplines,

archaeologist.

material

because

data

unlike scholars

are

rarely available

draw upon

different groups of people

may enable

evidence

thought, and

Each

interacted. A

interpretive approach

and meaning

archaeologists

data.

the levels of understanding obtained regarding under examination. Analysts must examine

different approaches

of information to be gained

to each

to infer human

from archaeological

asked,

approach

will dictate

sequentially,

the types of questions

since

and

using

the archaeological

the same

data

this increases

the potential quantity

it is important for the

in sequence.

Section

from the images. Therefore

approach

have

to be examined

examined

literature belonging

five, therefore, considers the literature belonging

approach, where archaeologists

to the culture-historical

the shape,

location, and

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What

date of the images. Section

do These

Symbols

Mean?.

105

six assesses

the value of the literature belonging

search for patterns which might

relate different images and combinations of images both between and within

to the contextual approach. This involves the

sites. This approach

must

be

employed

to connect the culture-historical

information with the larger issues,

the totality of the images and

features of the site

itself. In this case

I use

the word contextual

the natural

ina broader

and

generalisations

explanations of meaning. The seventh and final section reviews the literature

for larger

less

technical

can

sense

be made

than Hodder

(1991)

intended.

For

low-level

that relate data, without searching

inwhich

archaeologists

contains

assign

meanings

on

either together or separately.

to images

the basis

of three

This

(i) the

the

briefly

methodologies

section

which may

be employed

analogical

of

these

three parts, each the

(ii)

Each

dealing with a different approach:

approach,

approaches

and

finally

should

be

intuitive approach,

homological

approach.

discussed.

(iii)

CULTURE-HISTORY

Les/el 1 : Establishes the shape, location, and date of the images.

CONTEXTUAL

Level 2: Relates various types of empirical informationto thesitewhere they were found, and considers a broad set of associations and relations among the images themselves,

and between the images and their physical settings.

A contextual approach involvesa search for patterns relating different images

and combinations of images withinsites.

INTUITIVEand/orANALOGICALand/orHOMOLOGICAL

Level 3: Assigns meanings to images on thebass of three methodologies which are employed together or separately.

Figure 1.

Sequence

inwhich archaeological approaches must be utilised.

The

associated

intuitive (narrative,

constructivist, or so called

developed

'humanist') approach as a reaction against

1980s.

petroglyph

with post-processual

archaeology

archaeologists

the positivism of the processual

The

intuitive or

narrative

pictograph scholars because

during the 1970s

among

the

and

issue

approach

is popular

and

the

itenables

them to address

of

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106

Revista

de Arqueolog?a

Americana

No.

25

meaning

of

an

image, even

when

there

is a

paucity

of detailed

textual

records.

theoretical discussions

fail to advance

tone, their interpretations are exercises themselves at the whim of each scholar's

This

is of questionable

beyond

be duplicated,

utility. The

strong

They

relativists

load

their

but

in

finds

of this

they

with tortuous vocabulary.

the subjective.

since

Though

claim a great deal

applications

rarely explain

how

authoritative and assertive

readers,

in "navel gazing." The intuition.The

researchers

approach

cannot

reached their findings. A scholar

rock images

interested

in establishing

the meaning

of

in a more

rigorous and persuasive

fashion cannot

stay there,

and should adopt

The analogical

the analogical

or homological

approach

approach,

associated

with processual

(see Figure

archaeology,

1).

was

a

reaction by positivists

to the culture-history which

dominated

the post war

era.

culture

components

behaviour.

employing

analogies

Its proponents

because

of

Scholars

universal

argued uniform connections

systems,

that behaviour

could

be

inferred from material

between

culture,

the various

human

and

that it is only worth

define

Biologists

evolutionary

operating

to

many

exist

socio-cultural

socio-cultural

who

practice

material

this approach

in human

argue

behaviour.

regularities as similar features of different species

similarities have

resulted

without close

relations. The

from natural selection

adapt

Johnson

assumed

comparable

strong

systemic

different species

1985:20).

to exist

conditions.

cross-cultural

contexts

to a similar environment

and

analogy is a likeness or partial likeness

under

allows

to use

(Abercrombie,

Hickman

An archaeological

as

a

consequence

of convergent

development

scholars

Interpretation using analogies

behaviour

correlates

regularities between to attribute behavioural

and material

to material

culture

in

remains

recovered

from archaeological

contexts.

This assumes

cognitive

that correlations

behavioural

can

can be argued

between

past and present ifsimilar

So,

of

can

in the

to

if

day

behavioural

and

capabilities

of human

between

beings.

characteristics

be established

specific aspects

scholars

culture

material

culture and

behaviour

them to cover

the same

record

use

universal

in the contemporary

or similar aspects Scholars

1981).

world,

of material

extend

archaeological

approaches

(Binford

adopting rather than concepts

analogical

specific

generalisations,

individual or historically

they deem

only

related cultures.

This has one major drawback.

For

universal correlations

to be relevant then it is difficult to deal

with the idiosyncratic The

An archaeological

by adaptation result from diffusion as

well as common descent. In this they differ from biological ones. In biology,

facets of a single

approach

homology

image.

homological

might offer an alternative

to this bleak picture. cultures occurring to different

is a similarity in two or more

as

the result of shared cultural environments.

historical origin unobscured

Archaeological

homologies

reproductive

descended

isolation ensures

that homologies

occur

only among

species

from a common

ancestor.

Consequently,

homological

similarities

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What

do These

Symbols

Mean?.

107

imply evolutionary

relationships

among

and Johnson 1985:145).

organisms

(Abercrombie,

Hickman,

Scholars

establish

homologies

by tracing cultural

continuities

through

traditions.

Interpretations employing homologies frequently utilise the direct historical

approach. This approach beliefs and their material

and employs material culture to trace these beliefs back into prehistoric

during the early historical period,

identifies parallels between culturally specific

time within a single,

or

a

series

of historically

related

cultural

expressions

times. The

present and

and Redman (1971:50), homologies are advantageous

cultural continuity and where the same techniques and implements have

and

been

ethnographic observations

used

exploit

cultures.

other

bridging arguments

for establishing

homologies

between

the

the past are culturally specific. According

for a

long period of time. Written

are probably

devising

materials

historical

to Watson,

LeBlanc,

in regions of strong

utilised

when

these

direct

records, oral heritage,

the strongest

types of evidence

Scholars

in specific

with

beliefs

of

relying on a wide

whether

and

of a specific consider what

beliefs

in

insights

bridging

arguments

(Trigger

1995:452).

to establish

which

beliefs

existed

connects

archaeology

the practices

By

and

to establish

The

approach information concerning

related

can

disciplines,

specific,

variety

continuity exists

question.

group and itsmaterial culture. It permits archaeologists

human

into the meaning to determine

providing

or groups

of evidence,

The

over

of, historically

archaeologists

the very

approach

societies.

attempt

long term in the practices

allows

in-depth analysis

to

homological

beings might have

of specific

that similar

thought about

symbols

images

in the past, and provides

It may even

and objects.

be possible

in a variety of different mediums

used

might

execute

have

have

held

for scholars

similar meanings.

intending

It is a very demanding to use

homological of the skills

required

from the

approach

to

interpretations

establish

in terms

approach

acknowledge

must

a detailed

understanding and ethnographic demand

this approach

and

how

susceptible

to use archaeological,

in question.

effectively.

These

Those

entrenched

of

must

that

be

that

historical,

materials

taking

materials

these

region

multidisciplinary

must

skills to be exploited

cultures

to evaluation

verify how

are

beliefs,

culture. Any scholar

aware of different cultural perspectives.

using

intending to use

approach

the homological

They

must

the direct historical

of

form does

can

also

change,

symbols

can

Davis

(1992:25)

is neither straightforward

imply continuity

icons

and

be

nor simple.

of meaning.

Continuity

Meaning

Material

what

not necessarily

especially meanings "iconographie time cannot

new

an

over

since

tend to be polys?mie. become

examples

of

disjunction."

Continuity

simply

correlated

with

obtain

called

or discontinuity

material

culture.

in beliefs

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108

Revista

de Arqueolog?a

Americana

No.

25

'Rock Art' and

Its Study

-

Some

Preliminary

Thoughts

I think that the images

that exist on the surface of

world-wide

to images

rocks should

instead of rock art. I realise

be termed

on

that

the

rock images, or petroglyphs and pictographs

the term 'rock art' is applied

that are placed

surfaces

rock shelters,

faces

passages

and

sizes

of rocks.

Itoccurs

in many different places

of boulders

on

and settings: Australian

desert, vertical rock

of

the stone

the surfaces