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In the study of rock art in general, and pictographs in particular, how we collect and manipulate the images displayed on a canvas of nature determines both what is seen and what can be reposed for the future. The identification of an undocumented rock art site, primarily pictographic, in the Hill Section of southern Illinois afforded an opportunity to take a fresh look at the methodologies employed in data recovery and analysis. We herein detail a natural history of our investigations of 11SA557. Our methods involved the generation of five different types of image data, an eight-element protocol for the processes of image collection, and a ten-step protocol for the manipulation of the image data with Adobe Photoshop© (see Note1). Some of the special issues associated with the long term archiving of digital images are also addressed. Our approach was ultimately driven by concerns over the fragile and dynamic properties of pictographs and the application of technologies and techniques that would result in minimal invasiveness, heighten interobserver reliability, replicable results, and the intergenerational availability of one’s findings.


This article was originally published in Illinois Archaeology. 2009. Vol. 21. pp. 191-212.


Copyright is retained by Illinois Archaeological Survey and is published here with their permission.