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Rock art and settlement in the Owyhee uplands of southeastern Oregon

Myrtle Pearl Shock


Petroglyph sites in the Owyhee uplands of Malheur County, Oregon were documented. Dimensions of the petroglyph panels and individual designs were measured. Associated archaeological features and landscape were noted. All known archaeological sites in the Owyhee uplands were cataloged. Petroglyph sites were analyzed in relation to their location in the landscape and to their associated archaeological features. The distribution of all archaeological sites was compared to the distribution of petroglyph sites and other factors such as vegetation, elevation, and distance to perennial water. Eighty-four percent of petroglyph sites were located within 1500 meters of a perennial water source. Petroglyph sites were associated with archeological features and analyzed based upon their role in the regional settlement system. Three distinct types of sites were identified: mesa top, riverine, and water tub. Petroglyph sites were associated with resource procurement activities. The nine petroglyph sites that shared the traits of being on the mesa, associated with rock features and near perennial water sources were sites for hunting and plant gathering. The petroglyphs at one site were dated to over 4000 years based on analysis of features similar to those at the other nine sites and a recent lava flow.

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