Art & Art History ETDs


Heather Kline

Publication Date



The Three Rivers petroglyph site in what is presently south central New Mexico represents important concepts for the study of southwestern prehistory. This site has been studied to a limited degree from the perspective of archaeological site surveys that have categorically classified the motifs represented on the petroglyphs, but at this point very little is known about the cultures that lived and created art in the Three Rivers area. The iconography of these images is remarkably similar to that represented on ceramics at both Mimbres during the Classic period (ca. AD 1000-1150), as well as Casas Grandes during the Medio period (ca. AD 1275-1450). While these similarities cannot be approached systematically due to the decontextualized nature of their cultural ideations, it is possible to consider these similarities through explorations of a proposed metanarrative dependent upon shared cultural knowledge that was in some way transmitted between cultures. Through linguistic theories, archaeological semiotics, and comparative visual analysis, this thesis proposes that Three Rivers was one possible cultural link between Mimbres and Casas Grandes and that all three cultures shared a basic metanarrative that informed the expression of iconography on the media of rock art and ceramics.



Document Type


Degree Name

Art History

Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Department of Art and Art History

First Committee Member (Chair)

Fry, Aaron

Second Committee Member

Crown, Patricia


art, art history, Native American, petroglyphs, Mimbres, Casas Grandes, Three Rivers, New Mexico, Southwest