Sunday

Part II - Rock Art Sites in Nevada's Great Basin

Part II
Rock Art Sites in Nevada's Great Basin

As noted, the maps in previous chapters of this online manuscript indicate that the "Great Basin" encompasses nearly the entire state of Nevada. With the help of others over the past three years, I have visited more than two dozen sites throughout the south-central portions of Nevada in Clark and Lincoln counties. The map in (Fig. A) shows the approximate location for 26 numbered sites. The map legend below is a brief summary for each of the numbered sites and a link to the site specific page with detailed descriptions and pictures. For the purpose of displaying them, I have grouped then by the county that they are located. Some locations are well known to the public, while others are either not know or not well publicized do to their sensitivity.

(Fig. A)



Petroglyph Sites in Lincoln County Nevada


(Fig. 01) Click to Enlarge
(1) Black Canyon Site Famous for its Pahranagat Man petroglyphs (Fig. 01, Black Canyon is located within the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge and is only one of nearly a half dozen rock-art sites within the Pahranagat Valley area of southeastern Nevada. Based on what they know so far, archaeologists have only been able to paint the Desert Archaic culture that lived here with a very broad brush. Dating, deciphering and understanding the meaning of the vast amount of rock art found here has been elusive at best. 


(Fig. 02) Click to Enlarge
(2) Crystal Wash Site: Evidence found in the rocks and hillsides indicates that this area was frequented by an ancient culture of people known as the Pahranagats, one of several known Southern Paiute groups. The Pahranagats represented a long-standing tradition of hunter-gatherer life ways over a period of time covering several thousand years. The size of this site is large enough to have accommodated a village of several small families, most probably during the winter months. 


(Fig. 03) Click to enlarge
(3) Mt. Irish Archaeological District: The Mount Irish Archaeological Site is located approximately 10 miles southwest of Hiko, Nevada. This area provides four distinct petroglyph sites: Echo Rock, Paiute Rock, Shaman Knob and Shaman Hill. Chipped and ground stone, rock shelters and the petroglyphs studied there suggest the sites were occupied from 1000 B.C. to the 1860s. Most of the petroglyphs found here have been classified by what is referred to as Great Basin Representational style.


(Fig. 04) Click to Enlarge
(4) Ash Springs Site: The Ash Springs Rock Art Site is located in the small community of Ash Springs. The site is predominantly a small habitation site comprised of two high intensity areas of domestic activity. With its large boulders sheltering people from the cold, this area is known to have been a winter site for the Pahranagats, and might have accommodated a small village of 25-40 individuals. Sherds of Fremont-like greyware have also been found, indicating the presence of these Southwestern groups who co-existed in this area along with the Pahranagats c. AD 500-1250.


(Fig. 05) Click to Enlarge
(5) Shooting Gallery Site: This site is located in the Badger Mountain Range approximately 9 miles from Richardville and US-93, west of Alamo, NV. A now-known "game drive" site, the area is currently thought to have been inhabited from as early as 2,000 years ago to as late as 500 years ago by several different groups. The rock art found here is representative of the three distinct styles found within the Pahranagat Valley: The Great Basin Abstract Style; the Pahranagat Representational Style; and the Fremont Representational Style.


(Fig. 06) Click to Enlarge
(6) White River Narrows Site: It is located in the Weepah Spring Wilderness, 23.0 miles from the intersection of State Route 375, State Route 318 and U.S. Route 93 (known as the "Y"). White River Narrows is a winding canyon that was carved by the White River during the Pleistocene or Ice Age (ca. 2.5 million to 11,700 years ago). It forms a travel corridor that was used by ancient Native American cultures. Some of petroglyphs found in the White River Narrows have been estimated to be 4,000 years old.



Petroglyph Sites in Clark County Nevada


(Fig. 07) Click to Enlarge
(7)  Arrow Canyon Site: Located off of NV-168, northwest of Moapa and Glendale, Arrow Canyon runs along the northeastern edge of the Arrow Canyon Wilderness Area. To this day, Arrow Canyon is considered sacred by the Moapa Band of Paiutes who still reside in the area just east of the Arrow Canyon Range. The petroglyphs in the canyon were likely carved by both the modern Paiutes and their historical precursors, possibly as far back as the Desert Archaic peoples.
View petroglyphs from this site: Arrow Canyon Site Petroglyphs.
Read about my visits to this site: Arrow Canyon Site Visits.


(Fig. 08) Click to Enlarge
(8) Atlatl Rock Site: Altatl Rock is located inside of the Valley of Fire State Park. After about AD 1200-1300, a time of great drought, the Numic ancestors of the Southern Paiute occupied this portion of southern Nevada. More to the point is the fact that Altatl Rock contains petroghyphs that are fully characteristic of the prehistoric and ethnographic cultures of the Great Basin, but it also contains some motifs that are more typical of Puebloan rock art sites and presumably date to the period when farming was practiced here.


(Fig. 09) Click to Enlarge
(9) Buffington Pockets Site: Located about 8 miles east from exit 75 on the I-15, the Buffington Pockets is a geographic area that surrounds the beginning of the Bitter Spring Backcountry Byway Road that runs in a south easterly direction through the Muddy Mountains, About the only information that I have been able to ascertain about their creation is that the Anasazi Indians dominated this area of Nevada from around 1 A.D. to 1150 A.D. The virtual art gallery of petroglyphs on these soft sandstone canyon walls can probably be credited to this early culture.  The Paiute Indians are the likely descendants of these Indians and may have also contributed to some of these panels.


(Fig. 10) Click to Enlarge
(10) Brownstone Canyon Site: Brownstone Canyon Archaeological District comprises 2,920 acres inside the La Madre Mountain Wilderness Area, and contains the most expansive display of polychromatic pictographs found in all of Southern Nevada. The Native American cultures that may have used this area are: Southern Paiute (900 AD to modern times); Patayan Culture (900 A.D.to early historic times in the 1800s); Anasazi (1 A.D. to 1150 A.D.); Pinto/Gypsum (Archaic - 3,500 B.C. to 1 A.D.). Native Americans who inhabited or passed through this area left behind roasting pits, tools, implements and trash of their everyday living.


(Fig. 11) Click to Enlarge
(11) Grapevine Canyon Site: Grapevine Canyon is located within the boundaries of the Bridge Canyon Wilderness Area, south of Spirit Mountain. One of the most prolific petroglyph sites in Nevada, the vast number of rock art panels found here make it apparent that it has had a long history of use. These prehistoric people appear to be ancestral to several Yuman and Numic speaking tribes from this area, including the Mojave, Hualapai, Yavapai, Havasupai, Quechan, Pai Pai, Maricopa, Chemehuevi and Southern Paiute.


(Fig. 12) Click to Enlarge
(12) Hiko Spring Site: This site is located at Hiko Spring in the Newberry Mountains, about 12 miles west of Laughlin, Nevada. Because it seems to have essentially, many of the same rock art designs as the site found in Grapevine Canyon, located only 4 miles to the north, it can be assumed that they were probably made by the same peoples. Because this is considered a spiritual site by many local tribes, very little is written about the site.



(Fig. 13) Click to Enlarge
(13) Keyhole Canyon Site: Keyhole Canyon is located off US-95 in El Dorado Valley, south of Boulder City, Nevada. Keyhole Canyon is an amazing archaeological area with many petroglyphs and a few pictographs. Though very little is written about this site, it seems to have essentially, many similar rock art designs as the site found in Grapevine Canyon.




(Fig. 14) Click to Enlarge
(14) Mouse's Tank Site: Located in Valley of Fire State Park, the Mouse's Tank Petroglyph Trail consists of an impressive series of panels located along a short trail to a deep depression in the rocks that collects and stores water seasonally. Mouse’s Tank falls within a region that was occupied  Puebloan farmers during the period from approximately AD 1 to 1200 and contains many Puebloan style petroglyphs. Indeed, Mouse’s Tank includes motifs of pre-Puebloan, Puebloan, and post-Puebloan or Numic ages. The Mouse's Tank Trail affords a rare opportunity to view a kind of site in southern Nevada that typically would require traveling to Arizona or southern Utah to see.


(Fig. 15) Click to Enlarge
(15) Sloan Canyon Site: Though relatively little is known about this area, the Sloan Canyon Petroglyph Site is one of the most significant cultural resources in Southern Nevada. Archaeologists believe its individual petroglyphs were created by native cultures from the Archaic to the historic era. Experts believe the earliest of these were made by ancestral Puebloans in the Archaic period, but other tribes may have continued to add petroglyphs in later years. Archaeological evidence suggests resources within Sloan Canyon may have been used as long ago as 7,000 years.


(Fig. 16) Click to Enlarge
(16) The Cabins Site: The location for this site is at "the Cabins" in the Valley of Fire State Park. Even though there are several sandstone cliffs here that contain a dark patina, only the one located directly behind the cabins has any petroglyphs. Even though there are recognizable elements such as zoomorphs ("sheep-like"), this large panel contains many glyphs that are quite abstract in nature if not downright strange.



(Fig. 17) Click to Enlarge
(17) Willow Springs Canyon Site:  Located in Willow Springs Canyon in the Red Rock Canyon Park, there are dozens of petroglyphs and several pictographs. Unfortunately, due to their age, many of the pictographs have deteriorated to the point that many are unrecognizable and just barely visible.






(Fig. 18) Click to Enlarge
(18) Yellow Plug Site: So far, I have been unable to find any information about the petroglyphs found at this location. The only thing I have learned is that the location is referred to as the "Yellow Plug". The full panel of glyphs here runs about 40 feet in length. At its northern end, there is a shady crevice in the rock that even contains some well aged pictographs.




(Fig. 19) Click to Enlarge
(19) Red Springs Site Red Spring: The Red Spring area is part of the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The first humans were attracted to the Red Rock area due to its resources of water, plant and animal life that could not be easily found in the surrounding desert. This made the Red Rock Canyon area very attractive to hunters and gatherers such as the historical Southern Paiute and the much older Archaic, or Desert Culture Native Americans. As many as six different Native American cultures may have been present at Red Rock over the millennia.


(Fig. 20) Click to Enlarge
(20) Sheep Panel Site: Located in the Gold Butte Region, this is without doubt one of the longest petroglyphs panels I have encountered. There are two rows of glyphs, with the upper row being at least 25-30 feet long. The upper row contains twenty-one zoomorphs (goats or big horn sheep) in a single line. Below and to the left of this depiction, there are two more sections containing some abstract glyphs, as well as another dozen zoomorphs. Though there were many Indian tribes who used this area as a migration corridor, the petroglyphs are probably Virgin River Anasazi (Ancestral Puebloan). It has been estimated that some of these glyphs are more than 500 years old.


(Fig. 21) Click to Enlarge
(21) Falling Man Site Falling Man Site: This is another site in the Gold Butte Region. It appears to be generally believed that Archaic hunter-gathers were the first prehistoric rock art makers to live here, with the last period being the Late Archaic Period from 1500 BC to the period of contact with Euro-Americans in the nineteenth century. Therefore, many of the petroglyphs here can be anywhere from 7000 to 700 years old. It appears that at some point the early hunter-gathers were followed by the Virgin Branch of the Keyenta Anasazi which appear to have occupied the area until sometime between 1000-1300 AD. Coming from the east, the western Anasazi include the Kayenta Anasazi of northeastern Arizona and the Virgin Anasazi of southwestern Utah and northwestern Arizona, both areas of which boarder the Gold Butte Region.


(Fig. 22)
(22) Duck Rock Hike Site: While on a hike to Duck Rock in the Valley of Fire, we came upon a huge sandstone wall with a large panel full of petroglyphs. There were also some on some other rocks nearby.Again, it was created by Puebloan peoples during the period from approximately AD 1 to 1200 as they passed through this area hundreds, if not thousands of years ago.




(Fig. 23) Click to Enlarge
(23) Mud Wash Road Site: The panels containing these petroglyphs are located along Mud Wash Road in the Gold Butte Region. As noted before, there were many Indian tribes who used the Gold Butte area as a migration corridor. The petroglyphs are probably Virgin River Anasazi (Ancestral Puebloan). It has been estimated that some of these glyphs are more than 500 years old.


(Fig. 24) Click to Enlarge
(24) Kirt's Grotto Site: So only a few miles from the Mud Wash Road Site in Gold Butte, Kirt's Grotto is somewhat difficult to locate. These petroglyphs are situated between the two sets of cliffs. One of the most photographed panels found here is of the "dying corn plants", perhaps a symbol of a sustained drought causing the corn to die.  It is believed that many of the Gold Butte panels were created by the Anasazi, who as planters of crops, their survival was all about the rain. Other panels contain images of an anthropomorph, sheep, a stylized sheep or coyote, a horizontal journey symbol and an anthropomorph with two circle or spirals on his arms/legs.


(Fig. 25) Click to Enlarge
(25) Kohta Circus Site: Located in a desolate area in the middle of Gold Butte, the Kohta Circus petroglyph area contains the largest petroglyph panel in the state of Nevada. The lower panel contains so many glyphs it actually seems ‘cluttered’. It is roughly 80 feet long and 6 feet high and is packed full of petroglyphs. As to who was responsible for their creation is anyone’s guess. Over the years many different people utilized the resources of Gold Butte making it difficult to determine who made what rock art. The first to live here were the bands of Archaic hunter-gatherers. They were followed by the Virgin Branch of the Keyenta Anasazi. When the Anasazi left sometime around 1000AD, the Patayan and southern Paiute made Gold Butte their home.


(Fig. 26) Click to Enlarge
(26) Warshield Canyon Site: These panels are located on two side of the Pahranagat Wash above the Arrow Canyon Dam at the north eastern edge of the Arrow Canyon Wilderness Area on the northern end of the Arrow Range. There are several petroglyph panels on the boulders and cliffs above the wash. Due to the fact that many of the glyphs found here appear to be representative of Indian  “war shields”, the reason this area is loosely referred to as Warshield Canyon






CHAPTER 06 - Study of Rock Art Styles


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Using Rock Art Styles: Rock art style refers to the overall impression that the panel of rock art makes on the viewer. It begins with an inventory of the elements used. Are they mostly abstract designs or are there human-like or animal-like symbols involved? Second, it includes the way the symbols are expressed. Are the human like symbols mere stick figures, or do they have bodies with interior designs and heads with faces, horns, or other appendages? Third, how do these symbols relate to each other in the general pattern? Over time, researchers have ascribed certain rock art styles to given cultures, based on such factors as geographic locations of the rock art and the other indicators of the culture, i.e. ruins, pottery, etc.(1)
                                                
As such, the Great Basin is considered a cultural area. A culture area is a concept in cultural anthropology, in which a geographic region and time sequence (age area) is characterized by substantially uniform environment and culture. This concept is criticized by some who argue that the basis for classification is too arbitrary. However, many other researchers disagree and the organization of human communities into cultural areas remains a common practice throughout the social sciences. Classifying rock art from specific geographic regions into “styles” has become another way of helping to determine age, and thereby who may have made it. 
                  
Prior to what is known as the “contact period” (Late 1700's to the early 1800's), very little about the occupation of the Great Basin can be determined with any real certainty. Pre-contact aboriginal population figures for the Great Basin are, at best, tentative. Some authorities have placed the total population at 22,000; others suggest a much higher figure, near 45,000 or more. The early occupation of the western Great Basin by hunter-gatherers speaking Numic languages has been one of the most widely discussed classificatory schemes in subsequent North American studies. 
                   
One of the current hypotheses for the peopling of the Americas, known as the Coastal Migration Hypothesis, envisions early migrations to the Americas by coastal travelers using boats. It is well known that ancient people have been using boats of some kind for a long time. Archaeological surveys of early sites along the Oregon coast have yielded very little data regarding human habitation in this area prior to 4,000 years ago. Coastal sites tend to be rare because of two factors of physical geography. First, and perhaps most important, is the fact that sea levels have been rising, particularly over the past 18,000 years. During the last ice age when humans would have been first entering the area, the sea levels were (330 feet) lower than they are today. Along the Oregon coast, this means that vast stretches of the continental shelf would have been exposed and the actual coast line would have been several kilometers to the west of its current positions. The camp sites and villages used by the early people are thus underwater today. With people using watercraft living to both the north and the south of the Oregon coast during the period of the Terminal Pleistocene/Early Holocene (13,000 to 7,500 years ago), we would expect human occupation of the Oregon coast during this time. The actual physical data from the archaeological record for this period is, however, a bit scanty (Ojibwa; 2015).

Categories of Rock Art: Found on rock surfaces all over the Southwest desert, southwestern rock art generally depicts people, animals and other shapes and forms. It is basically divided into two categories known as representational and abstract.
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(Fig. 02)



Representational Rock Art:
 Elements within the representational can include: Anthropomorphic (human-like) figures (Figs. 02 & 03). These figures usually have trapezoidal shaped bodies with arms, legs and splayed fingers and are sometimes elaborately decorated with headdresses, ear bobs, necklaces, clothing items and facial expressions. 
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(Fig. 03)
Anthropomorphic motifs are found represented in a wide variety of ways, from simple schematic stick-figures (which predominate throughout the state), to more elaborately executed types. Only a small percentage of the anthropomorphic motifs found in Nevada include characteristics which indicate whether the image was intended to signify gender. Although researchers have a tendency to designate all anthropomorphs as “male,” this is not verifiable unless the sex of the image is clearly indicated, and in the vast majority of cases it is not indicated. Some anthropomorphic motifs appear to include clothing or other ornamentation, such as elaborate headgear or jewelry (e.g., necklaces or earrings). In some cases this elaboration indicates a specific “style” (attributable to a specific time and place), such as Fremont or Pahranagat style anthropomorphs. Both of these very distinctive styles are found in the eastern (and south-eastern) portion of the state.

A wide variety of zoomorphic (animal-like) figures include bighorn sheep, deer, dogs, birds, snakes, lizards and other creatures (Fig. 04). Other elements may include hand prints and plant-like images. Identification of the species signified in zoomorphic motifs is difficult because a simple signification of a type of animal was not necessarily the original intent or interpretation of a particular zoomorphic form. However, it is apparent that a range of species were depicted in rock art—some were represented more commonly than others, e.g., large mammals (e.g., deer or antelope) and reptiles (e.g., lizards or turtles), and some were rarely the subjects of representation (e.g., fish, birds, and insects). By far the most common zoomorphic motif found in Nevada, and the desert west more generally, is the bighorn sheep. Also of some interest is what animals are not found in rock art, such as rabbits or other small mammals, except for coyotes or dogs which are also sometimes found depicted. Animals of all types figure prominently in the stories and lives of Indigenous peoples, so it is difficult to explain the very clear preference for the bighorn sheep as the subject of rock art production.
                                      
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(Fig. 04)
Abstract Rock Art: Abstract designs and geometric shapes include spirals, dots, circles, ladder-like forms, sunbursts, “squiggles”, “wheels”, and mazes just to name a few, are quite common (Figs. 05, 06 & 07). Many times these designs have been used to record religious or mythological events, migrations, hunting trips, resource locations, travel routes, celestial information and other important knowledge. Often they were created by a shaman (an intermediary between this world and the spirit world.) during vision quests. Individual panels, or rock art sites, can be comprised solely of elements from one or the other categories or a mix of both depending upon how many different cultures lived in the area over time.
                                   

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(Fig. 05)
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(Fig. 06)
EFP3-P1100029_thumb3
(Fig. 07)
Identifying Rock Art Styles and Themes: Nevada’s rock art offers a wide variety of themes and subjects and has been divided into several "styles" based on cultural phase or time period, geographic region, method of execution, subject matter and attributes. Bearing in mind that any one, or sometimes more, of these components may overlap other style boundaries, i.e. hand prints may appear in both Archaic and Anasazi sites, one can visit a rock art site and approach it with a basic understanding of when it was made and who made it. Rock art was created for many purposes by the indigenous people who lived in the area. All that being said, applying a style to one rock art site is not always a simple task. Sites dating from the Archaic hunter-gatherer peoples to modern Native Americans can be found across the state. Rock art may have served to identify cultural differences, record celestial events, or was used as a form of communication. Though certain rock art sites are known to have been used for seasonal time-keeping, many archaeologists are confident that there are rock art sites where the elements reflect a religious or spiritual purpose, or have symbolic meaning. However, when it comes to definitively interpreting prehistoric rock art images archaeologists, historians and even modern Native Americans can only speculate as to what they mean because prehistoric rock art exists outside of living cultural context.
Abstract motifs that are highly ambiguous in meanings and references are the most abundant motif types portrayed. Most of the themes and subjects of prehistoric Nevada rock art are not directly apparent to external observers. Though it is believed that much of this rock art portrays important social and religious themes, or significant scenes from everyday life, without insider commentary it is impossible to really know. This may have been a meaningful, deliberate choice on the part of Nevada’s prehistoric artists; by choosing ambiguity, prehistoric artists would have made information about rock art's meanings the subject of a special knowledge. This highlights that rock art’s symbolism was culturally significant and mostly not intended to simply depict events in daily life.
                   
Identifying regional and chronological differences in rock art styles may eventually allow archaeologists to identify differences in cultural uses and cultural affiliation. The broad cultural context of Nevada is generally a long continuum of hunter-forager groups practicing varying economic and settlement systems, punctuated in eastern and southern Nevada by a period of semi-sedentary horticulture. Stylistically distinctive portrayals of the human form (anthropomorphs) and animals (zoomorphs) appear to accompany these changes in economic and settlement practices in southern and eastern Nevada. Similarly, archaeologists have attempted to find whether rock art can be related to changes in hunter-forager practices.
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(Fig. 08)
Curvilinear and Rectilinear: Curvilinear and rectilinear motifs are the two most common abstract styles and are widely distributed throughout the Great Basin culture area. Curvilinear Symbols: These are complicated abstract motifs consisting of rounded interconnected geometric shapes, spirals, concentric circles, zigzags, dots, “starbursts, wavy lines, and meandering lines (Figs. 08, 09 & 10). These motifs are believed to be the oldest rock art in the southwest and may date to 8,000 BC. The circle in one form or another is the most common element.
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(Fig. 09)
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(Fig. 10)
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(Fig. 11)

Rectilinear Symbols: These include abstract motifs similar to curvilinear except the elements are more square and rectangular composed of straight lines, angular designs, and perpendicular forms, such as grids, rectangles, squares, triangles, lines, cross-hatching, rakes, zigzags, diamonds, etc. (Figs 11, 12 & 13). It has been determined that these are younger than curvilinear, dating back to ca. 5000 BC
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(Fig. 12)
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(Fig. 13)
Naturalistic Depictions: Less common are schematic and naturalistic depictions (Fig. 14) that sufficiently resemble real-world objects. These designs, representing humans (anthropomorphs), animals (zoomorphs), tools, weapons, and hunting scenes have particular resonance for contemporary observers as the “meaning” of this class of rock art motifs can, at one level, be inferred from simply identifying their subject and themes. Most common are humans portrayed as stick-figures and bighorn sheep depicted with curved horns. These are sometimes combined as hunting scenes where a human bearing a bow and arrow is placed beside a bighorn sheep motif. Interestingly, hunting scenes where atlatls are portrayed (Figs. are virtually unknown in Nevada and very rare in general. Atlatls, when they are portrayed with anthropomorphs, are usually shown being held but not being used. The atlatl is seen in both (Figs. 15 & 16).
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(Fig. 14)
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(Fig. 15)
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(Fig. 16)
Zoomorphs: Bighorn sheep are by far the most common animal species depicted in Nevada rock art (Figs. 17 thru 19). The distribution of bighorn sheep motifs is more pronounced in eastern and southern Nevada and, although present throughout the state, seems less common at sites in the north and the west. Other animals portrayed in rock art include deer, elk, lizards, coyotes, and mountain lions. The prominence of bighorn sheep in rock art perhaps attests to this animal’s symbolic importance in prehistoric cultural thought as it was not a staple of the prehistoric diet. Small mammals (rabbits, marmots, ground squirrels, etc.), were probably more important sources of meat and deer and antelope were also hunted. Plants, which at all times, made up the bulk of prehistoric diets, are very rarely identified in Nevada rock art.
                         
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(Fig. 17)
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(Fig. 18)
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(Fig. 19)
Anthropomorphs: Some stylized depictions of the human form are found that are regionally restricted in distribution and are formally distinct styles of anthropomorphs. In southern and eastern Nevada these are associated with archaeological remains of Fremont and Ancestral Puebloan cultures (ca. 1500-800 BP)-semi-horticultural cultures with variable reliance on harvesting of wild plants and animals. The rock art of these cultures portrayed the human form variously as stick figures (Figs. 20 & 21), hourglass shapes, rectangular shapes, or as triangular bodies lacking legs. Often these forms have bodily adornment (headgear, “horns,” or jewelry), or internal decoration that might represent clothing.
                                     
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(Fig. 20)
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(Fig. 21)
Uncertain in its age and cultural affiliations is the Pahranagat anthropomorph style, which is only found in the Pahranagat Valley area of southeastern Nevada. Traditionally the style is dated to the late Middle and early Late Archaic based on associated archaeological remains and the fact that some figures wield atlatls. This style comprises two distinct types of anthropomorphs. One is a rectangular form internally decorated with grids, dots, or geometric motifs, “fringed” by short vertical lines (Fig 22). It often lacks a head but has stick-figure legs and short arms (Fig. 21) sometimes bearing an atlatl-like object (Fig. 22). The second type has a solid-pecked ovoid or rectangular body, large eyes (indicated by using negative space), and a line protruding from its head; their arms are portrayed down-turned and with long fingers (Figs. 23 & 24). Click the following link for more detailed information on Pahranagat Valley Rock Art ... Black Canyon Petroglyphs.
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(Fig. 22)
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(Fig. 23)
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(Fig. 24)
Great Basin Rock Art Styles: Heizer and Baumhoff (1962:197-209) suggested a temporal ordering of five major styles in the western Great Basin, along with suggested dating.
Pit-and-Groove Style: The oldest (assumed to be between 5500 BC to 500 BC) being termed the Pit-and-Groove style. This consists of boulders modified by random depressions or pits, which are sometimes connected by grooves. The pits are also know as cupules. These Pit-and-Groove and faceted boulders are thought to be associated with the Archaic occupations of the Great Basin.
Great Basin Pecked Style: They also recognized the Great Basin Pecked style, which was subdivided into the Curvilinear, Rectilinear, and Representational styles.
Great Basin Representational Style: The Representational style (also between AD 1 to 1500) includes solidly pecked images of quadrupeds (primarily mountain sheep), anthropomorphic figures taking a variety of forms, as well as numerous geometric designs. Though most Anthropomorphs include small stick figures,
Pahranagat Style: Uncertain in its age and cultural affiliations is the Pahranagat anthropomorph style, which is only found in the Pahranagat Valley area of southeastern Nevada. Traditionally the style is dated to the late Middle and early Late Archaic based on associated archaeological remains and the fact that some figures wield atlatls. This style comprises two distinct types of anthropomorphs. One is a rectangular form internally decorated with grids, dots, or geometric motifs, “fringed” by short vertical lines. It often lacks a head but has stick-figure legs and short arms sometimes bearing an atlatl-like object. These highly stylized, interior-lined anthropomorphs are referred to as patterned-body anthropomorphs (PBAs). The second type has a solid-pecked ovoid or rectangular body, large eyes (indicated by using negative space), and a line protruding from its head; their arms are portrayed downturned and with long fingers. The solid body anthropomorphs are commonly referred to as Pahranagat Man. 
Great Basin Abstract Curvilinear Style: The Curvilinear styles (dating between 1000 BC to AD 1500) is typified by the occurrence of circles, concentric circles, circle chains, disks, meanders or wavy lines and stars.
               
Great Basin Rectilinear Style: The Rectilinear styles (dating between AD 1 to 1500) includes dots, rectangular grids, bird-tracks, rakes, and cross-hatching.Though very little is known about the archaic inhabitants of the central Great Basin, more current research suggests the people were hunter-gathers who frequently lived in caves and rock shelters that supplemented their diet with horticulture. They used various tools and methods to make their rock art resulting in petroglyphs that were either chipped, carved, incised pecker or abraded.
Grapevine Canyon Style: One distinctive abstract style of rock art is found in southern Nevada, distributed along the Colorado River drainage south of Las Vegas Valley and into the Arizona Strip, and extending westwards into the eastern Mojave Desert. Known as the Grapevine Canyon Style, it is composed of symmetrical and rectilinear elements forming complex geometric motifs that use negative space as essential components of their designs. These include visually prominent, large rectangular and circular forms internally decorated with straight lines, denticulated lines, or wavy lines; and H-like and I-like shapes that are outlined; and outlined diamond chains. This style is believed to be Late Prehistoric (Patayan) in age and cultural affiliation, based on its general distribution pattern and associated archaeological contexts.

Rock art found in what is generally considered the California/Nevada Great Basin, may have been created by ancient peoples and cultures from its neighboring regions and vice versa. The native inhabitants of this region were hunter-gatherers. Though ancient peoples in each of these specific areas may have been responsible for the creation of rock art, climatic conditions and their nomadic life-styles often caused them to travel, resulting in an overlapping of rock art styles. Further complicating the issue of who made the rock art is the fact that there are relatively few techniques for dating it. This, coupled with the fact that there is an overlapping of defined cultural regions, makes it extremely difficult to know when some of the sites within these particular regions were created. 

David Whitley indicates that the cultures in and around the Great Basin can be divided into four distinct language groups; Great Basin, South-Central California, Southwestern California and the Colorado River. The Great Basin area was largely occupied by the Centural Numic cultures to the northeast and the Southern Numic cultures to the southeast. These included the Northern Paiute ( or Paviotso), the Shoshone and the southern Paiute (including the Chemehuevi). Because these early hunter-gatherers lived in the driest regions in North America, their population size and density were quite low. California’s South-Central Cultural Providence had the densest Native American population in the Far West. The Cultural Providence of Southwestern California ranged from the Los Angeles Basin and the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains southward across the Mexican border. Because these environments were so productive, perennial villages of up to 1,000 inhabitants developed in some areas, rivaling the farming communities of the southwestern Pueblos in both population density and permanence of settlement. The Cultural Providence of the Colorado River included the river valley and its surrounding terraces. Four different Yuman-speaking groups inhabited this region. The Mojave lived at the northern end, while the Quechan (or Yuma) lived along the southern end of the river, near the Mexican boarder. The cocopa lived on the river delta in what is now northern Mexico. Unlike other far-western groups, these Yuman speaking Native Americans were at least part-time agriculturalists. (Whitley 1996:3-7)

Overall, based on the themes and subjects that can be identified in Nevada rock art, it seems that prehistoric artists were not trying to provide a simple reflection of their daily lives or the content of the natural worlds in which they lived. Nevada rock art is not “representational” in the sense that it is an art of the everyday; instead, it is an ideological presentation of how prehistoric peoples perceived their social and natural worlds, and presenting an imagined, idealized worldview that served the social needs of these cultures.