Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Committee Member

Karen Harry

Second Committee Member

Barbara Roth

Third Committee Member

Liam Frink

Fourth Committee Member

William Bauer

Number of Pages



This research paper proposes to enhance the approach used in the interpretative methods of petroglyphs, in particular those located in the Valley of Fire State Park in Southern Nevada. Along with the actual content, the contextual element of elevation, in relation to ground level, will be used in an analysis of the petroglyphs located in the park. Intermittently throughout the park petroglyphs are visible at various elevations, from current ground level to the top of the rock formations several hundred feet vertically. It is this contextual element of elevation that will be key in the attempt to begin interpreting both function and meaning. The conceptual framework begins with the idea that different members of society created petroglyphs for their purposes in particular places. In other words, the "who" (socially defined) is in direct relationship with "where" the petroglyphs were produced. Analysis will divide the elevation or vertical plane into distinct levels and compare the petroglyphs in each level in an attempt to answer who created them from a social perspective and for what purposes. Specifically, I will investigate the hypothesis that the petroglyphs found at the highest elevation levels are associated primarily with shamanistic activities; that those in the middle elevation levels are associated primarily with hunting activities and rituals; and that those in the lowest elevation levels are associated primarily with everyday, or domestic, activities.


Elevation; Interpretation of cultural and natural resources; Nevada – Valley of Fire State Park; Objective; Petroglyphs; Rock art; Southwest; New; Southwestern


Indigenous Studies

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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