This question is addressed starting with a reconsideration of rock varnish chronometrics as applied to Great Basin, eastern California, petroglyphs.
CR and VML dating, accordingly, have been used to reassess the Great Basin petroglyph chronology.
In light of the varnish dating controversy and the uncertainties and misunderstandings that it generated, I discuss the current status of these two chronometric techniques before turning to the revised rock art chronology.
(Photo by Whitley.)At other Great Basin sites, outside the Cosos, the same motif assemblage typically occurs, although geometric designs commonly predominate.
The Coso petroglyphs vary from the remainder of the Great Basin art not due to significant stylistic or known cultural differences but instead as a function of variations in the proportional motif emphases at individual sites and within smaller regions.
Although rarely considered, early art has the potential to provide insight into questions that may be obscured by other kinds of evidence, particularly stone tools.
What part did art play in the peopling of the Americas?
The peopling of the Americas is both the oldest and most frequently researched question in American archaeology.
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Comparison of these ages with evidence from other regions in the hemisphere demonstrates substantial artistic and stylistic variation in rock art by the Paleoindian period (circa 10,000–11,000 YBP).
This suggests that, while art may have been part of the baggage of the first immigrants, regional cultural traditions had already been developed by the Terminal Pleistocene, if not earlier.
Recent research in North and South America, including improvements in chronometric techniques, has amplified our understanding of Terminal Pleistocene/early Holocene art.