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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: October 2019

Nine - The Animacy of Rocks

from Part III - Intra-Actions


In previous sections of this book, we have attempted to capture various evasive and elusive avian creatures. Repeatedly we have seen how the depictions of birds have been hard to pin down, sort and categorize. Even if we attempt to lump them together into loose and vague categories such as wood fowl, waterfowl, big waders and raptors, and corvids (Table 9), we end up with more questions than answers. Each attempt to reanalyze and reclassify the ninety rock panels in the assemblage and the associated figurative world of avian creatures results in different answers, with the numbers and percentages of classes slightly different. Hopefully, we can be wiser after my own virtuous attempt to approach this assemblage, a task I found rather Sisyphean! Moreover, even the motifs that seem to be easily categorized contravene the constrained definitions that exist within naturalism. Instead, the rock art assemblage underlines change, transformation, and metamorphosis. This is most clearly exemplified by the bird figures depicted with human attributes, such as feet (Figure 10), or anthropomorphs depicted with bird attributes, such as beaks and wings (Figures 17, 58, 63, and 66). Panta rhei!