Cambridge Archaeological Journal

The Study of Finger Flutings

Kevin  Sharpe  a1 a2 and Leslie  Van Gelder  a3
a1 Graduate College, Union Institute & University, Cincinatti, OH 45206, USA;
a2 Harris Manchester College, Oxford, OX1 3TD, UK.
a3 College of Education, Walden University, Minneapolis, MN 55401, USA;

Article author query
sharpe k   [Google Scholar] 
van gelder l   [Google Scholar] 


Archaeologists have usually glossed over parietal finger flutings, especially non-figurative and non-symbolic lines. This article develops a nomenclature and defines four forms to provide a descriptive structure from which to build analyses. It then develops methods for such investigations, using experiments and studies of physiology to derive information about the fluters from the flutings. The methods are applied to each of the four forms of fluting, showing which approaches may be most useful for each form. Broader questions and applications are touched on, including approaches to meaning, figures, and other families of parietal markings such as hand stencils. This approach to flutings augments other approaches to prehistoric ‘art’ by seeking to know about the artists themselves, their gender, age, size, handedness, and the number of individuals involved in creating a panel.

(Published Online September 20 2006)
(Received September 15 2005)
(Revised February 10 2006)

Key Words: finger flutings; rock art.