We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Making Pictures in Stone

American Indian Rock Art of the Northeast

Written by Edward J. Lenik

Publication Year: 2009

The Indians of northeastern North America are known to us primarily through reports and descriptions written by European explorers, clergy, and settlers, and through archaeological evidence. An additional invaluable source of information is the interpretation of rock art images and their relationship to native peoples for recording practical matters or information, as expressions of their legends and spiritual traditions, or as simple doodling or graffiti. The images in this book connect us directly to the Indian peoples of the Northeast, mainly Algonkian tribes inhabiting eastern Pennsylvania, Maryland and the lower Potomac River Valley, New York, New Jersey, the six New England States, and Atlantic Canada. Lenik provides a full range of rock art appearances in the study area, including some dendroglyphs, pictographs, and a selection of portable rock objects. By providing a full analysis and synthesis of the data, including the types and distribution of the glyphs, and interpretations of their meaning to the native peoples, Lenik reveals a wealth of new information on the culture and lifeways of the Indians of the Northeast.


Published by: The University of Alabama Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (20.1 KB)
pp. vii-viii


pdf iconDownload PDF (29.3 KB)
pp. ix-xiv

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (22.2 KB)
pp. xv-xvi

"In researching and writing this book, I relied extensively on the work of numerous professional and avocational archaeologists and researchers. This book would not have come into being without their assistance and cooperation. Many of these individuals provided me with hard-to-find published information, photographs, and data about new sites and artifacts..."

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (33.1 KB)
pp. xvii-xx

"More “Picture Rocks.” In 2002, I presented the fi rst comprehensive study of American Indian rock art covering the northeastern United States and two provinces in Atlantic Canada. Picture Rocks: American Indian Rock Art in the Northeast Woodlands documented 45 immovable petroglyph sites, 3 pictograph (painted) sites, and more than 75 specimens of portable rock art ..."

read more

Algonquian People in the Northeast

pdf iconDownload PDF (70.0 KB)
pp. 1-7

"When the first European explorers arrived on the coast of northeastern North America in the sixteenth century, they were met by Indians who were speakers of the Algonquian language. Algonquian speakers occupied an area extending along the east coast and adjacent inland regions from the eastern maritime provinces of Canada to North Carolina (Figure 1)."

read more

Ezra Stiles: Pioneer Rock Art Researcher in Eighteenth-Century New England

pdf iconDownload PDF (193.7 KB)
pp. 8-22

"In the late eighteenth century, Ezra Stiles (b. 1727, d. 1795), a Congregational minister, lawyer, and president of Yale College from 1777 to 1795, surveyed and recorded rock art sites in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. His meticulous notes, drawings, and interpretations of the petroglyph sites he examined are contained in six volumes of manuscripts called 'Itineraries and ..."

read more

Culturally Altered Trees

pdf iconDownload PDF (136.8 KB)
pp. 23-34

"In my book Picture Rocks: American Indian Rock Art in the Northeast Woodlands, I reflected upon the question of why there were not more petroglyphs and pictographs in this region as compared with the rock art of the American West. I suggested that some of the answers lay in the history and geography of the region. European settlement, which came early to this area and was ..."

read more

Nonportable Rock Art Sites

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.2 MB)
pp. 35-104

"What we now call rock art is a form of artistic expression developed over thousands of years by Native Americans. The rock art of the canyons and mountains of the West is most well known. Less well known and less numerous are examples of eastern rock art, both portable and, as this chapter addresses, nonportable. My focus here is on sites that I have not discussed..."

read more

Landscapes in Myths and Legends

pdf iconDownload PDF (79.4 KB)
pp. 105-115

"The landscapes of Atlantic Canada and the northeastern United States played a significant role in the development of Indian cultures. From Newfoundland on the north to Chesapeake Bay on the south, a very distinct and diverse, physiography in this region greatly inersected with Indian lifeways and beliefs."

read more

Portable Rock Art

pdf iconDownload PDF (25.4 KB)
pp. 116-117

"Decorated stone artifacts containing incised or pecked designs or sculpted into shapes resembling humans, animals, or other figures in the natural world have been recovered from numerous archaeological sites in the Northeast. Such portable objects were made from a variety of soft and hard materials such as siltstone, sandstone, slate, shale, steatite (soapstone), granite, and..."

read more

Pendants and Gorgets

pdf iconDownload PDF (479.4 KB)
pp. 118-149

"Engraved and perforated pendants made from stone were produced by Indians to be worn as personal adornments. However, not all pendants were perforated; some were notched or shaped in other ways to facilitate suspension. Pendants have been found throughout the Northeast and were made from a variety of types of stone and in many sizes and shapes and were decorated ..."

read more

Decorated Tablets, Pebbles, and Cobbles

pdf iconDownload PDF (305.2 KB)
pp. 150-164

"Engraved stones occur throughout the northeast woodlands. They are decorated tablets, small slabs, pebbles, or cobbles of sandstone, siltstone, steatite, shale, slate, or other rock materials. Their designs are often obscure and difficult to describe, explain, and understand because they are nonrepresentational, or the objects are broken. Geometric and abstract decorations are often ..."

read more

Sculpted Heads and Effigy Faces

pdf iconDownload PDF (528.8 KB)
pp. 165-190

"Indians in the Northeast have been making sculpted heads and effigy faces for a very long time. They have been produced in a variety of media including stone, bone, wood, clay, ivory, and antler. Few of these artifacts made from perishable materials have survived in the archaeological record, but those surviving examples of stone that I have been able to locate and study are..."

read more

Decorated Stone Tools

pdf iconDownload PDF (279.4 KB)
pp. 191-207

"Decorated utilitarian artifacts have been found but are not plentiful from archaeological sites in the Northeast. Images present on stone tools are usually those of animals, and some scholars believe they may represent a form of hunting magic. Animal images on atlatl or spear- thrower weights, for example, may have conferred power to the individual and contributed to..."

read more

Nonutilitarian Effigy Stones

pdf iconDownload PDF (179.8 KB)
pp. 208-218

"Zoomorphic effigies have been found in several archaeological contexts. These artifacts include beautifully sculpted individual objects, those sculpted on stone tools, and images on cobbles, pebbles, and plaques. These images of animals could be carried around by their owners in the course of their daily activities. Most recovered specimens have been dated to the Late Woodland ..."

read more

Dreams, Visions, and Signs

pdf iconDownload PDF (46.5 KB)
pp. 219-224

"Since the sixteenth century, the Native inhabitants of northeastern North America have been a source of wonder, mystery, and speculation for European explorers, adventurers, and settlers. At various locations Europeans saw Native houses and communities, extensive agricultural fields, trails, burial sites, and fishing places. They encountered various Indian..."


pdf iconDownload PDF (79.2 KB)
pp. 225-242


pdf iconDownload PDF (194.8 KB)
pp. 243-251

E-ISBN-13: 9780817380779
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817355098

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2009

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Rock paintings -- Northeastern States.
  • Petroglyphs -- Northeastern States.
  • Algonquian Indians -- Northeastern States -- Antiquities.
  • Picture-writing -- Northeastern States.
  • Northeastern States -- Antiquities.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access