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date: 19 September 2019

Great Gallery, Barrier Canyonlocked

  • Catherine S. Fowler


Prehistoric rock art site in North America, in the steep-walled sandstone canyon country of south-eastern Utah. The Great Gallery is the principal site in the canyon and features one of the finest painted pictograph panels in North America. It is dominated by dozens of large anthropomorphic figures (some nearly 2 m), best representative and definitive of the Barrier Canyon Style as described by Schaafsma (1971 and 1980). Anthropomorphs and accompanying zoomorphic images are painted on prepared red sandstone surfaces on the canyon walls with dark red pigments using both the fingers and spatter-painting techniques. The figures are characterized by large, square-shouldered torsos, many with inverted bucket-shaped heads and ‘crowns’ of white dots. Arms and legs are rudimentary or non-existent. Torsos feature fine detail in painting and incising, including horizontal and vertical bands of colour, fine line and striping (sometimes white). Heads sometimes have large, round eyes, often giving them a skull-like appearance and the overall figures a ghostly quality. Small birds and mammals often occur on or near the figures, especially at the shoulders, suggesting to some that the groups represent shamans with tutelaries. Other sites featuring figures of this style are in a relatively circumscribed area along the Green and Colorado rivers in eastern Utah (Castleton, ...

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