Cuvilinear petroglyph designs, Western Abstract Archaic, Utah
Western Abstract Archaic rock art is among the oldest and most geographically far-reaching—albeit rare—forms of art in North America. Similar motifs have even appeared throughout the world, as if the tenuous lines, animal prints, and curvilinear patterns are burned into our subconscious mind. While it is notoriously difficult to date a rock surface that lacks organic components or other datable materials, at least one large panel in Oregon was partially buried by ash from an eruption that occurred roughly 7700 years ago, rendering the rock art definitively older than the eruption event. Other associated artifacts and methods of dating have been employed at sites throughout the country, producing a fairly wide range of dates for different rock art locations. Regardless of the age of each individual location, it’s clear that Western Abstract Archaic rock art is very, very old.