Original paper

The applicability of repeat photography in rock art conservation: a case study of mixed methods in the Arkansan Ozarks

Groom, Kaelin M.


Detailed scientific analyses of rock decay and site stability can aid rock art conservation but cultural sensitivity often limits the use of traditional methods, which often require rock samples or other invasive procedures. The need for intuitive non-invasive rock art analysis led to the creation of the Rock Art Stability Index (RASI). While RASI is a validated rock art assessment tool, a primarily quantitative approach can sometimes overlook the aesthetic component of rock art – a characteristic critical to the presentation and perceived value of the resource. Therefore, this research examined the applicability of repeat photography, or rephotography, in addition to RASI providing a more comprehensive approach. This mixed method approach was employed at three different rock art sites in the Arkansan Ozarks of varying lithologies, geographic characteristics, rock art type, and management policies. Results suggest that RASI allows for more consistent and reliable assessments, as rephotography has more restrictions and limitations. Nevertheless, when available, rephotography proved to be an immensely useful addition to quantitative research techniques, such as RASI, to provide heritage management with a more holistic evaluation addressing both geologic stability and changes in visual quality over time.


cultural resource managementheritage sciencegeoarcheologycultural stone decayrock art stability index (rasi)heritage conservation