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Arizona rock art scholar to give free lecture

October 14, 2009

The Deer Valley Rock Art Center, an archaeology museum located in northwest Phoenix, is pleased to invite you to a free lecture Nov. 7 at 1 p.m. at the Deer Valley Rock Art Center.

Well-known rock art scholar, Ekkehart Malotki will give a talk entitled “The ‘Deep Structure' of Non-Iconic Rock Art: Human Universals.”

Across the globe, all earliest mark-making traditions consist entirely of abstract-geometric motifs and non-figurative patterns, regardless of whether they occur on portable objects or on rock surfaces. This is also true for the American West, which houses a wealth of non-representational images both painted and engraved.

To shed light on this enigmatic yet fascinating imagery, which many rock art researchers consider to have little interest because it has seemed to offer no insight into the minds of its creators, Ekkehart will introduce a countervailing view based on findings and ideas from neuroscience and evolutionary psychology that support the existence of human universals.

His overview of explanatory models for early marking systems introduces Ellen Dissanayake's "Artification Theory," which is evolutionarily informed.

A sampler of striking photographs of non-iconic petroglyphs and pictographs from the American West will accompany the talk.

Ekkehart will be selling and autographing two of his books: “Stone Chisel and Yucca Brush: Colorado Plateau Rock Art” and “The Rock Art of Arizona: Art for Life’s Sake.”

All three of his rock art books have received prestigious awards. His most recent one, “The Rock Art of Arizona: Art for Life's Sake,” provides, in 384 color photographs, a comprehensive overview of the state's rock art wealth.

Ekkehart Malotki is a professor emeritus of languages at Northern Arizona University, where he taught German, Latin and Hopi from 1977 until 2004. For more than 25 years, his work as an ethnolinguist focused on the preservation of Hopi language and culture.

During the last 20 years, his passion for rock art has taken him from the Sahara, to the Paleolithic caves in France, to Italy, Scandinavia and Mexico, and twice to Australia. In addition, he has devoted much of his time to the photography and interpretation of the rock art of the American Southwest.

The Deer Valley Rock Art Center has the largest concentration of Native American petroglyphs in the Valley. Visitors hike a one-fourth-mile trail to view more than 1,500 petroglyphs made between 800 and 5,000 years ago. The museum aims to promote preservation, connection and respect for the site and is a destination for families to learn about archaeology in their own backyard.

The Center is managed by one of the top archaeology programs in the country at Arizona State University and is a Phoenix Point of Pride. It is located at 3711 W. Deer Valley Road, two blocks west of 35th Ave.

For more details, call (623) 582-8007 or visit: