pictograph rock art training

Exeter, CA

petroglyph and pictograph training

petroglyph rock art training

Coso Sheep

A Rock Art Petroglyph and Pictograph Training Company

...the best protection for rock art
 is an informed and enlightened public.







Current Seminars
click on Seminar # link

Seminar # 041214
 Ridgecrest, CA

April 12-13, 2014


Seminar # 0xxx14
Visalia, CA

Spring, 2014

Who we are

About our Seminars

Who Should Attend

Training Modules

Release of Liability
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Who we are
Rock Art 101 is the brain child of Donald Austin and Alan P. Garfinkel. The multi-faceted program is designed to address the growing public interest in Archaeology in general and Rock Art Petroglyphs & Pictographs in particular.  Alan holds a PhD in Anthropology,  works as an Archaeologist for a Cultural Heritage Planning and Management company, has published several books and countless articles on the subject of archaeology and rock Art. Donald is a retired Engineer, works as an independent  rock art researcher, and operates a petroglyph based art business.

Recent News about Rock Art 101

Bakersfield Magazine

Ridgecrest Independent

Bradshaw Foundation

Bakersfield Californian

About our Seminars
Our seminars are held in the comfort of and convenience of hotel conference rooms. Whenever possible we try to negotiate special room rates for out-of-area attendees wishing to stay over at the hotel.  The seminars are either one or two days, the first day consists of lecture, Power Point presentation and hands on exercises. The second day, when offered, consists of a field trip to a nearby rock art site. Day #1 is divide into 6 or 7 modules addressing specific subjects with short breaks in-between. Custom seminars can be developed for groups wanting specialized training. Click on each seminar number for particulars about that seminar

rock art training

Dr. Alan Garfinkel with Coso Bighorn Sheep

... a conservative estimate suggests an excess of 100,000 petroglyphs in one 90 square mile area of eastern California. Why was this area, now known as the Coso Range, adorned with such a concentration of strikingly beautiful and highly consistent rock engravings, predominantly those of ...  read more  
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Who should attend
Members of the interested general public, staff of cultural resource management firms, Native Americans with an interest in rock art, state and federal government employees, and individuals who just want an inexpensive, but comprehensive course on rock art & archaeology.

Our efforts are especially timely since interest in the study of rock art is growing at a tremendous rate. Attendance at rock art conferences has never been greater and the number of new scientific articles based  on rock art studies is increasing at a frenzied pace. The study of rock  art, sometimes identified as the unfortunate stepchild in the field of archaeology, is now poised to offer a great and continued contribution  to the field of prehistory broadening and deepening our understanding of the past.

Comments from past attendees:

What a great class... interesting lectures, surprising material and good insights on Native American religion and prehistoric American Indian Graphics. - archaeologist

Wow! This class was really amazing, gave me quite a bit to think over. I never knew the study of Indian rock drawings could be this much fun and the field trip was great. Best archaeology class I ever had. - student

The lectures, video and field trip were really good. I didn't realize the material would be this interesting and very respectful to Native traditions. - Native American

Rock Art 101 is supported by:

Rio Tinto Minerals
Boron Operations


Tehachapi Heritage League


Donald Austin archaeology

Donald Austin
Recording Rock Art at
Sears Point, AZ
S. Eberwein photo

  Training Module Descriptions      
See individual Seminars for Modules to be presented

Module 10 Peopling of the Americas
In order to understand rock art petroglyphs & pictographs it is important to first have an understanding of the culture who created it, where they came from and when.  This module explores the current theories of migration into the New World through Beringia, along the the North Atlantic route, across the Pacific and from Australia via the Antarctic ice shelf.


Module 11 What is Rock Art
What makes something rock art? Are these peckings and paintings nothing more than Indian graffiti? Take a journey into the mind of Native Americans and learn about ancient Indian medicine men, animal powers, and the role of the environment on the daily lives of the ancient ones.

Module 12 Rock Art Recording
While it is great family fun to visit rock art locations, it is a greater experience to find and explore new, and perhaps yet undiscovered, petroglyph and pictograph sites. To that end, you can make a lasting contribution to the world of academia. This module describes some simple disciplines you can use to locate and record sites you may discover by using maps, documentation, forms, drawings, and photography.
Module 13 Rock Art Types & Styles
In the beginning the were simply two types of rock art- carvings and paintings (petroglyphs and pictographs). Now there seems to be as many styles of rock art as there are rock art researchers. Intended to help sort out prehistoric undertakings into 20th century classifications, has terminology such as 'style' and 'abstract' lost their meaning, and is rock art really 'art' at all?  These questions are addressed as well as descriptions of some of the common and not-so-common rock art styles of California, the Great Basin and American Southwest.

meaning and function of rock art

Module 14 Meaning and Function of Rock Art
What do these strange and mysterious symbols on the rocks mean? We will sort out the mainstream and outrageous theories that have been advanced regarding rock art. Theories and models include hunting magic, shamanism, clan symbols, archaeastronomy, birthing stones and rain rocks, boundary markers, initiation rituals, sorcery, documentation of events, and oral traditions.


Module 16 Native American Religion and Cosmology
Throughout 90% of our earthly existence we lived as preliterate hunter-gatherers. Most rock art relates to these "primitive" societies and their religions combining an emphasis on animal ceremonialism, spiritual power, cosmic rejuvenation, and ritual adept curers & sorcerers. You will leave this class with at least a basic understanding of the deep and abiding relationship of Native peoples to the land and natural resources.

dating rock art

Module 17 Conservation, Management, and the Law
How do we preserve and protect rock art? Growing interest has fueled public demand for access and information. However, Native Americans identify rock art as sacred and ask that site locations be kept confidential. Others argue that increased awareness by responsible visitors actually protects these places. We discuss acceptable ethics and protocol at rock art sites and identify the proper conduct that shows respect for Native values.


Module 19 Eastern California Prehistory and the Coso Region Chronology
One of the most intensively studied areas of California and the Great Basin is the eastern Sierra and extreme southwestern corner of the Desert West. Prehistorians have attempted to anchor their discoveries by developing a regional cultural sequence timed to changes in the archaeological record.  What can we learn about the past using the key time markers and characteristic changes in the prehistoric record of the stone age peoples of the Coso Region?

Module 20 The Search for the First Americans: Peopling of the New World
It was no easy task being the first people in a new world, especially since that new world was changing at an increasingly  fast pace. The ice age was ending, the glaciers were retreating, mega fauna was going extinct and the front door to the Americas was wide open. Lets explore who came here, from where and when.


Module 21 Archaeoastronomy and Archaeoacoustics: The
Celestial Cosmos and World of Sound

Archaeoastronomy is the study of prehistoric cultural materials and their possible relationships to the timing and movements of the stars and planets. Several discoveries have been made providing strong correlations between rock art images and the observations of solstice sunrise or sunset. Especially important to certain groups of Native peoples was the movement of the sun.  A number of rock sites have been found to be in places where ritualists marked the rise of the sun on the days of the Winter solstice. 

Archaeo-acoustics is a relatively new sub-discipline that studies the relationship that ancient cultural features have with sound.  Researchers have found that sometimes rock art sites are selected because of the acoustic qualities of the landscape.  Areas where sound congregates or is produced mysteriously might be a place of ritual and reverence and be marked by a rock drawing or painting. Echo-phonic characteristics have been found at places they are identified as traditional portals to a subterranean supernatural world.


Module 22 Oral Traditions and Rock Art: Mythology and Symbolism
The  traditional stories of Native peoples and the manner in which they view the world creates a tapestry in which ritualists convey the central tenets of their faith through pictures painted or carved on stone. This imagery may depict spirit beings and key supernaturals described in their stories and their World Creation accounts.  A review of Native literature sometimes provides keys to better understanding the indigenous symbology.


Module 23 The Origins of the Clovis Culture
Who were the first people to inhabit North America? We've been told that mammoth hunters crossed a land bridge that once spanned the Bering Strait between Siberia at the end of the Pleistocene 12,000 years ago. We know this because their distinctive stone Clovis projectile points and tools have been found in direct association with the remains of mammoth fossils. But are these Clovis tools Asian in origin, or is there another explanation?

Module 24 Advanced Discussions of Rock Art Theory
Rock art theory has in part been monopolized by a perspective emphasizing shamanism as the chief means of understanding its meaning and function. Rock art and symbols are multivalent with many meanings tied up in single design elements. There are other models such as hunting magic, increase rites, puberty rites, gender and reproductive symbolism, oral traditions, sociopolitical organization, and others that are complementary to the ritual adept person and the altered states of consciousness paradigm. 

Module 25 Dating Rock Art
How old is it? Rock drawings and paintings are notoriously difficult to date and have played a central role in the unending academic haggling over just how old it is. In this brief survey we probe the depths of the myriad ways we attempt to set an age and develop "rock clocks". We discuss the tried and true and some of the cutting edge including subject matter, style, patination, radiocarbon, and the experimental, quantitative, x-ray fluorescence.

Module 26 Resource Depression, Native American Sacred Ecology, and the Overkill Hypothesis: did the Coso Folks kill off the Sheep
Advanced mathematical studies and computer aided simulations can sometimes enable prehistorians to model prehistoric lifeways, population movements, and predator-prey relations.  When it appears that one population may have replaced another or that resource intensification may have results in the local extirmination of certain animals this has implications for our rock art  research.  One such attempt to link these elements can be showcased in the study of Coso rock art.

Module 28 Bighorn Sheep Symbolism in the Coso Range and Great Basin
Images of bighorn sheep adorn the rocks of the Great Basin in both pecked and painted form.  Mountain sheep in many forms and styles are depicted in solitary and in elaborate multi-image panels.  Historic Numic groups inhabiting the Desert West featured these animals in their oral traditions, ritual activities and ceremonial traditions.  What can we learn from a broad survey of the religion of these foraging peoples in an attempt to unravel the mysterious meanings of bighorn iconography?


Module 29 Are Coso Scratched petroglyphs Women's Work?
A large number of scratched designs, some so lightly manufactured as to be nearly invisible, are found in the Coso Range. Largely unnoticed and often ignored, this particular style of petroglyph has recently become the focus attention: several researchers have tentatively proposed these scratched images to be the work of women.