Silence of Signs—Power of Symbols: Rock Art, Landscape and Social Semiotics

  • David Vogt
Part of the One World Archaeology book series (WORLDARCH, volume 8)


Language is an important tool in social communication, but not all communication is channeled through verbal or linguistic expressions. Rock art is an example of visual symbols used in complicated systems of social communication. Rock art became an integrated part of the landscape, and through cognitive symbols, expressions were fixed in a physical, long-lasting medium. In this chapter rock art is seen through social semiotics, a theory about signs and symbols, and how they play an important part in communication between people in public space. Central to social semiotic theory is the principal of “message/reception”, the sender of the message, and the receiver of the message and the symbol convey a message. Social semiotics has uncovered that symbols and structures of symbols often serve as a medium for communication between powerful forces in society and the individual. Rock art was probably a far more diverted, cultural specific, and complex structure in prehistoric societies, therefore it is far more complicated to interpret today than we believe. In this chapter I will present a case study from South Scandinavia, and in this specific context, political control of a certain territory seems important for production of rock art.


Symbolic Structure Heavy Clay Soil Social Semiotics Modern Social Science Paramount Chief 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Vogt
    • 1
  1. 1.Museum of Cultural HistoryUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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