Types of radiometric dating methods

As pictographs are far less weather resistant than engravings, most surviving pictography is in the form of underground cave painting, or outdoor markings under overhanging rock.

Prehistoric artists began by painting with their fingers.

As well as this, cave paintings throughout the world include numerous symbols, ideograms, anthropomorphs and zoomorphs.

Regarding these pictographical symbols, it is worth remembering that pictographs were the basis of cuneiform and hieroglyphic writing, as well as the writing systems used in Ancient China, Sumeria, and Egypt.

Megalithic rock art is best exemplified by the complex spiral engravings at the entrance of the Newgrange Neolithic Passage Tomb, in Ireland.

However, although Newgrange is the most famous site within the Bru na Boinne complex in County Meath, the mound at the Knowth megalithic tomb (Newgrange's sister site) has a huge number of rock engravings around its circumference.

The colour pigments found in cave paintings were generally obtained from mineral, animal or vegetable sources (eg.

clay ochres, charcoal, manganese dioxide, calcium phosphate from crushed animal bone, carrot juice and berries, animal blood and urine). Stone Age artists produced many different kinds of images.

Of course, the most obvious characteristic of rock art (whether petroglyph or pictograph) is its "artistic" quality, but this is sometimes the most difficult attribute to establish. These non-utilitarian cup-like hollows are the most ubiquitous and varied type of prehistoric human markings, yet archeologists and anthropologists remain baffled as to their meaning or significance. Nobody yet knows, although it seems reasonable to assume they have cultural significance of some kind, which should be sufficient.

Other important examples of prehistoric relief sculpture include Cap Blanc rock shelter (15,000 BCE) and Roc-aux-Sorciers (12,000 BCE), all famous for their limestone friezes; and the Tuc d'Audoubert Cave (13,500 BCE) noted for its extraordinary bison reliefs made from unfired clay.

Pictography is the creation of monochrome or polychrome images through the application of pigments, like carbon, manganese and various oxides.

The markings can be dyed or painted, or enhanced through polishing.

Petroglyphs have been discovered all over the populated world, notably in parts of Africa, Scandinavia, Siberia, southwestern North America, Northern and Western Australia, and the Iberian Peninsula.

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After all, Rock art traditionally includes a wide variety of man-made markings, such as those created to mark/map territory (geocontourglyphs), pictorialize the stars, record events, or illustrate myths and other rituals.

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