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Paleoindian Rock Art: An Evaluation of Great Basin Carved Abstract Rock Art in the Northern Great Basin
AuthorMiddleton, Emily S.
AdvisorSmith, Geoffrey M.
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One of the principle ways that researchers assign sites to particular time periods is using temporally diagnostic projectile points as index fossils; however, this practice has not been widely employed to date rock art sites. I use this approach to add an additional line of evidence supporting other researchers' suggestions that a unique style of rock art found in the northern Great Basin is older than the majority of rock art found in the region. This style, termed Great Basin Carved Abstract (GBCA), has been found buried beneath a sealed deposit of Mazama tephra (∼6,850 <super>14</super>C BP), which suggests that the style dates to at least the Early Holocene. I present frequencies of temporally diagnostic projectile points found at 55 GBCA sites in the northern Great Basin to argue that this style dates to the Terminal Pleistocene/Early Holocene (TP/EH) transition (∼12,500-7,500 <super>14</super>C BP). Furthermore, I examine the relationship between GBCA rock art and several environmental variables to test traditional models of TP/EH land use. I propose a new model of land use for the earliest period of prehistory in the northern Great Basin that better incorporates all available data from the TP/EH; a dataset that now includes rock art.