Deciphering Rock Art

Rock Art Calendars

How to Decipher Rock Art?

Deciphering Rock Art is a complicated task but not impossible! Rock art is not art imitating life; it is a visual record of religious beliefs practiced long ago and not an expression of daily life. Each rock art hides a story, so dig into its regional history and find it! It will never be what you see at first impression, remove the visual layers from your first guess to unravel its true meaning.  You have to erase the modern bias and adopt the following assumptions that create guidelines for deciphering rock art:

A General rule:  “All rock art are linked to heavens - either directly or through myths”.

     • Rock art describes a heavenly story.
     • Hunting scenes are cosmic struggles.
     • Rock art is sacred and belongs to the realm of faith.


I found repetitive subjects in rock art that can help you to assess the engraved scene. I define them as rock art categories. here is a partial list:

     • Fertility  
     • Afterlife  
     • Heavenly Gates  
     • Calendar engravings   
     • Seasonal drawings of constellations                    
     • Hunting scenes depicting imaginary struggles    
     • Regional mythology (creation, heaven)              
     • The Sun journey myth                                            

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For an effective deciphering, frame your rock art into the suggested guidelines or find a new one. Pay attention to small details such as dots that may represent a star or a constellation. That’s how I began my deciphering journey with much success. See examples of deciphered rock art at our Articles section or in my book Rock Art in Israel available online.

( This post image describes a Moon Calendars   Rock Art from Negev Desert Israel).

Yehuda Rotblum 2019

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One Comment to Deciphering Rock Art

  1. Janet Masters says:

    Great article.

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