University of Southampton OCS (beta), CAA 2012

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Study of Mont Bego's engravings with a Geographic Information System
Thomas Huet

Last modified: 2012-01-23


The Mont Bego site (Alpes-Maritimes, France), located 2000 meters above sea level, counts more than 20 000 figurative pecked petroglyphs displayed across an area of 900 hectares. These petroglyphs show principally bull-like, topographical-like and weapon-like representations. The site has been the subject of study over the last 50 years by the H. de Lumley research team. They collected positions of 4000 engraved rocks and made drawings of thousands of engravings. After a 3-year collaboration with Lumley's team, we developed a GIS, a database and protocols for registration and analysis of the engravings. The GIS contains more than 1000 GPS positions of engraved rocks, a precise DEM made by GPS, hydrographical networks, geology, etc. Our database allows an easy navigation from a site scale (general views) to an engraving and millimetre scale (study of superimpositions). The statistical analyses, for both the engraved rocks and the engravings, included multifactorial analyses, regressions and non-parametric tests. The crosscheck of spatial, parametric (such engravings encodings) and iconographic data has permitted to find regularities. For example, a small portion of the engravings (n=85) was considered to be the most ancient. They show a significant propensity to be displayed on sub-vertical surfaces near lakes. All theses regularities (cost-distance from lakes, slope of engraving surfaces, correlation of different engraved themes) are measured quantitatively, forming a non-interpretative base of knowledge. These "archaeological facts" frame interpretations about the meaning of engravings. We are now creating macro (routines of analysis) to verify the pertinence of different hypotheses (viewsheds, alignments, etc.).