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Title: Landscape and connections : petroglyphs of the Altai in the 2nd and 1st Millennium BCE
Author: O'Sullivan, Rebecca
ISNI:       0000 0004 7234 1816
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis presents a holistic study of connections in the Altai Mountains of the eastern Eurasian Steppe, as shown by rock-art. Currently divided by four countries, pecked images (petroglyphs) and painted images from the 2nd-1st millennium BCE have been subjected to very separate research traditions, exacerbated by language barriers. This thesis focusses on the entire Altai Mountain range as a study area, integrating research published in Chinese and Russian, with supplementary literature in Kazakh and Mongolian consulted. To demonstrate the potential for connectivity and, consequently, movement, a map of accessibility was generated, showing that there are various optimal routes for movement throughout the Altai. The locations of rock-art sites relative to these routes indicate that movement was a key feature contributing to the creation of rock-art. Examining topographic features in the vicinity of rock-art sites of three regions (Mongolia, Russia, PRC) highlighted an association between watercourses and sites, whilst studying the micro-landscape within panels found that the creators of rock-art were not representing the tangible spatial relationship of figures to the landscape. More broadly, similarities between motifs at rock-art sites, as well as on portable art, demonstrate that the people making them, regardless of whether they were aware of it or not, were part of a wider understanding of how to depict subjects. Evidence of this understanding can be found even in regions with very different cultural backgrounds to the Steppe, such as the Chinese Central Plains, demonstrating that groups outside of the Steppe were aware of and using this way of representing. By combining analysis of motifs with that of the landscape, this thesis demonstrates that rock-art as a practice was inherently linked with to the landscape, whereas content and style are more indicative of a wide-ranging belief system amongst Steppe pastoralists, which was expressed aesthetically.
Supervisor: Rawson, Jessica M. ; Nimura, Courtney R. Sponsor: Leverhulme Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Petroglyphs ; Archaeology ; Rock art ; Prehistoric peoples ; Landscape ; Northern China ; Altai ; Mongolia ; GIS ; Xinjiang ; 1st millennium BCE ; 2nd millennium BCE ; Altai Republic ; Connections ; ArcGIS