|IFRAO Report Number 18|
Minutes of the
1997 IFRAO MEETING
The 1997 IFRAO Meeting was held at the Centro Simón I. Patiño, Cochabamba,
on 2 April 1997, as part of the Congreso Internacional de Arte Rupestre held by SIARB.
The event was chaired by Roy Querejazu Lewis (President of SIARB).
The following associations were represented by their IFRAO delegates: ARAPE (France),
AURA (Australia), CeSMAP (Italy), CIAR-SAA (Argentina), CIARU (Uruguay), ESRARA (USA),
SIARB (Bolivia), Sociéte Préh. Ariège (France).
The following further member organisations were represented by proxies:
ACASPP (USA), AARS (Sahara), ANISA (Austria), AARP (Portugal), Mid-America (USA),
MRARS (Macedonia), Orme dellUomo (Italy), RASI (India), SARARA (Southern Africa).
The meeting was also attended by the representatives of two prospective member
associations, GIPRI of Columbia and a Siberian organisation being established
in Kemerovo, who attended as observers.
Two further observers were two committee members of SIARB.
The meeting commenced at 8.00 a.m. sharp and closed at the scheduled time,
10.00 a.m., exactly to the minute.
All items on the agenda were considered and the meeting was most efficaciously chaired and conducted by SIARB. The following items were considered:
1. Proxies: nine proxies were declared.
2. Confirmation of previous minutes: no minutes had been received prior to the event.
Some copies of the Swakopmund minutes were tabled. ARAPE strongly resented the tone
and contents of the minutes, deplored the untimely production of the minutes
(see Note 1 below), and requested that they be rewritten.
3. Matters arising from these minutes: after discussion of the document the meeting
decided to reject the Swakopmund minutes, and to regard them as unread.
4. Reports: a series of written reports from members were tabled, others were
The following reports were provided: Orme dellUomo (activities), Mid-America
(Ripon congress tentatively in May 1999), CeSMAP, ARAPE (publications,
6000 copies of Unesco brochure), ESRARA (emphasis on indigenous involvement),
AURA (became incorporated), SIARB, MRARS.
5. Ongoing business:
5.1 Code of ethics, proposed by SIARB and AURA: to be modelled essentially on SIARBs
existing code and relevant parts of the Australian Burra Charter.
AURA suggested long and short versions, and flexibility to account for regional
differences was discussed. It was decided that a subcommittee of five be formed
and be instructed to produce a first draft, and then circulate it for comment.
The following delegates were elected to form this sub-committee: Bednarik,
Consens, Hedden, Ricchiardi, Strecker.
5.2 Report by IFRAOs Unesco Representative (CeSMAP): no initiatives were reported.
5.3 Strategies for collective international action: Unesco and ICOMOS were first
discussed. ARAPE then suggested that the most effective means to gain support
are press and Internet. AURA advocated a step-by-step text on dealing in a
standardised way with specific local issues. It was emphasised that member
organisations have to take initial actions, and the Convener was instructed
to then assess whether local possibilities of action have been exhausted,
before recommending international action.
5.4 Rock art and education: CeSMAP recommended that the temporary working
group formed in Swakopmund be formalised as a permanent committee.
AURA requested the inclusion of an Asian and a South American representative
on this committee, suggesting Kumar and Strecker, in addition to Bahn,
Seglie, Soleilhavoup, Pager and Swartz. The meeting approved this and
ratified the permanent status of this committee.
6. New business:
6.1 IFRAO World Wide Web page: IFRAO approved the location of its central
Web page at CeSMAP in Pinerolo, Italy, to be administered in collaboration
with the Convener.
6.2 Groupe de réflexion sur les méthodes détude de lart pariétal
paléolithique: the Groupe has provided a letter stating that the objectives
for which it was formed have been met and it has been dissolved.
6.3 Quorum: CeSMAP raised the matter of reducing the quorum at IFRAO meetings,
which had been discussed in Swakopmund.
The Convener explained the procedure for amending the IFRAO Constitution,
and was instructed to conduct a postal ballot to revise the size of the
quorum (see Note 2 below).
6.4 1998 meeting: several delegates expressed doubts about the ability
of AARP to conduct a large interna-tional conference in Portugal.
Only vague details were available about this event. (AARP has since
produced full details about the conference).
6.5 New members: the Kemerovo group, the Grupo de Investigación de Arte
Rupestre Indígena (Columbia) and the Asociación Arqueológica Viguesa
(Spain) notified IFRAO of their wish to join the Federation.
6.4 Conservation issues in Portugal: the Côa issue was briefly discussed
and one of the reports by Swartz
(see following pages) was tabled.
These minutes were compiled by the IFRAO Convener, R. G. Bednarik.
NOTE 1: Jean Clottes, one of the few delegates who read the document,
wishes to go on record as strongly resenting the personal attacks
contained therein, such as those relating to the Côa issue.
He suggests that whenever the action of an IFRAO Representative is
criticised, he or she should be advised immediately.
In addition it is to be noted that criticisms of individual IFRAO
Representatives should be directed to the respective organisations
they represent. Representatives attend IFRAO meetings not as individuals,
they represent organisations, and such meetings are not appropriate
venues to consider the conduct of individuals.
Minutes of such meetings need to reflect this principle, and should
not name individuals (except where they are addressed as individuals,
e.g. members of committees). In addition, it should be noted that some
of the decisions taken in Swakopmund were contrary to the IFRAO Constitution.
To avoid such errors at future meetings the Constitution should always be referred to. It should also be noted that IFRAO acts as an altruistic focus and cohesive
medium for the discipline, its roles do not include the facilitation of
endeavours to politicise the discipline.
Subsequent to the IFRAO Meeting in Cochabamba, the current IFRAO President,
R. Querejazu Lewis expressed concern about the practice of individuals
holding several proxies. He reminds us that the person acting as a proxy,
in order to serve the organisation he or she acts for, needs to be fully
familiar with the policies and priorities of that organisation.
He suggests that in future, proxies will need to be limited to one per
NOTE 2: The IFRAO President prefers that the quorum at future IFRAO
meetings be eighty per cent minimum, unless more than fifty per cent
of the total IFRAO membership is represented. A significantly lower quorum
would involve the danger that, at a poorly attended meeting, a minority
might be capable of making decisions on behalf of the unrepresented majority.
An evaluation of rock art conservation practices at Foz Côa, northern Portugal
B. K. SWARTZ, Jr.
The phenomenon of rock art is now of global interest and concern.
International organisations now exist that deal with rock art,
such as the International Federation of Rock Art Organisations (IFRAO),
and the UNESCO-based International Committee on Rock Art (ICOMOS-CAR).
It has now become critical that some international consensus be
established for a more detailed world-wide convention on proper rock art
This problem was recently highlighted by the sudden urgent situation
caused with the discovery of petroglyphs at Foz Côa, Portugal, that
were in imminent danger of destruction by dam backwater inundation.
How can resolution of highly vested conflicts be accomplished in a
way that allows for the best execution of conservation policy?
Portuguese government representatives invited me to Foz Côa to see
the area and to consider conservation problems. What I encountered
was appalling. This is not to be considered a condemnation of the
people of Portugal. In fact they are to be commended for having
concerns on conservation. The responsible organisation for managing
the Côa archaeo-logical resources has been the Instituto Portugûes do
Património Arquitectónico e Arqueológico (IPPAR). I find that almost
anywhere I go, when governments, corporations and even academic
colleagues within the discipline become involved with rock art conservation,
the results are usu-ally disastrous.
A basic problem with conservation policy is the basic human condition.
Humans are primates, that is they must see and touch everything.
Their reality is based on sight and touch. If you cannot see it,
it does not exist, e.g. foreign sub-molecular particles on engraved
rock surfaces. Primates are also curious, they cannot keep their hands
off of anything. Also, as lineally-thinking Indo-Europeans we are materialistic.
Reality must be concrete; the object itself is important rather than its context.
If we follow our instincts we will often unknowingly destroy data. Added to
this is the problem of introducing or attracting (often inadvertently)
numerous hu-man primates with all these foibles to accessible rock art.
The problems are then compounded.
The fundamental conservation problem at Côa is, of course, obvious
the inundation of the rock art by the reservoir formed by the
construction of the dam. Inundation has two effects on the petroglyphs,
(1) their rapid destruction and (2) making them inaccessible for appreciation
and study. In some ways the existing situation is even less satisfactory,
in that intermittent wetting and drying is the worst possible condition
for maintaining old rock art surfaces.
During my stay 1 was amazed to discover a photograph in the March 1995
issue of Centros Historicos of an elaborate chalked Côa petroglyph.
This is an utter taboo in any long-term rock art management policy.
The publication of such an act shows a lack of awareness of basic rock
art conservation. Suggestions that have been made of making latex
moulds also show this unawareness. A statement by the American
Committee to Advance the Study of Petroglyphs and Pictographs
(ACASPP) dealing with these matters has been published in various
sources and in several languages, including Spanish, French and English.
The most widely distributed version is Swartz (1981).
Direct field observations
Evidence of the following practices were observed by the writer in the field:
1. Excavation at base of panels. This activity not only disturbs the
immediate terrain, but important associated materials may be lost or
destroyed, e.g. possible abandoned engraving tools used to make the markings.
2. Rubbed surfaces. This activity alters trace element frequencies and
removes ageing residues. Indirect evidence of rubbing is indicated by
cleaned surfaces from which recent silt should have adhered from recent
inundation. This observation is further corroborated by photographs
documenting people touching the panel surfaces.
3. Rock cutting. This disfigures the terrain and alters the context
of immediate rock configurations.
4. Widespread disturbance of ground surface. This also mars the terrain
and alters context (disturbance of prior [earlier] natural ground cover).
5. Labelling of discovered panels with paint. Two sets of labels were noted,
one with yellow paint and ano-ther with red. Labels serve as beacons for
visitors. Those who manage the area can locate discovered panels from
their records and by familiarity with the area. Labelling invites vandalism.
6. Nearby construction. These are signs, fences, paths and other construction
near and about the petro-glyphs. These features can attract unsupervised visitors.
7. Employment of uniformed guards. If guards are employed sufficient staff
should be maintained to fully monitor the region. Guards should be aware
of all human activity in their area of responsibility. If this is
not done guards may attract and antagonise high-risk visitors.
Guards I encountered felt they had inadequate resources to effectively do their job.
Two unwise social policies noted were (1) the banning of knowledgeable
individuals from the area who wished to observe and study the petroglyphs
and (2) discouraging the photographing of the panels. Photography is totally
non-intrusive. The more something is photographed, the more thoroughly it is documented.
Indeed it might be useful to offer guides to locals interested in doing photography.
Recommendations - Nation of Portugal
Conservation recommendations are determined by the policies the managing
authority wishes to pursue.Conservation is not comparable to preservation,
but is the wise shepherding of natural and cultural resources.
The basic Foz Côa management policy alternatives would seem to be:
1. complete construction of the Côa dam inundating the upstream valley
where most of the presently known petroglyphs exist;
2. maintaining the status quo, the lower Côa valley being intermittently
flooded by the Douro River, or
3. reversion to the condition prior to the Pocinho dam construction.
If a resource itself cannot be protected the best conservation policy is
complete intensive documentation and long-term archival maintenance
of the recovered information, so as to preserve and maintain the database.
Complete intensive documentation entails not only traditional means of
recording such as textual description and measurements, mapping,
photography and sketching, but also newer and more technical approaches that are
available and should be employed, such as global positioning,
stereophotogrammetry, digital imaging, image capture etc.
All recording should be done twice, by two independent teams of two
trained individuals each, a recorder and a checker. Recording of the
same evidence should be done several times within the daily (and
perhaps seasonal) cycles and under varying weather conditions.
Conditions of context such as landform configuration, rock/bluff position,
ground cover, associated non-rock art archaeological remains should be
noted and meticulously recorded. All rock art surfaces to be inundated would
be inaccessible and rapidly destroyed by water erosion and, therefore,
should undergo complete intensive documentation.
Engraved rock surfaces enduring the wetting and drying process caused
by intermittent inundation should also undergo complete intensive documentation.
This would be the only reasonable conservation procedure to deal with
alternatives 1 and 2 management decisions (see above). Such actions as
relocation of engraved rocks and protective waterproof-coating of
engraved surfaces prior to inundation are not reasonable alternatives.
Rock art panels stripped of their contextual setting are much diminished
and become, essentially, objects of rock art.
Coating or spraying of rock art surfaces alters them and destroys
possibilities of trace element analyses. Long-term inundation would
still cause extensive general rock deterioration. The proper conservation
measure for alternative 3 is obscuring the rock art exposures by natural
cover and removing or preventing the introduction of attention-producing
features, such as signs, identification labels, paths, fences etc. (see
observation 6 above).
Alternative 3 not only offers the only possibility of the preservation
of a full-range of rock art for future research, but also interpretation
for the public, i.e. the viewing of a full range of unaltered petroglyphs in
a natural setting. It is the responsibility of the managers of rock art to
make a representational sample accessible to all. The heritage of rock
should be available for all humankind. In the case of Foz Côa the
general population of the area and the nation has been intimately involved,
and a major force in its fate.
This is certainly the one case were public interest should be considered.
Precedence of policies on public availability to rock art phenomena
on a global scale may very well be established by decisions made for Foz
Côa. If a viewing area and interpretation centre are established the
accessible remains should be initially intensively documented and
then be continuously monitored. The selection of petroglyphs should be
representational, not marginal.
SWARTZ, B. K. Jr. 1981. Standards for the recording of petroglyphs
and pictographs. Current Anthropology 22(1): 94-5.
Support for travel and field observations of this study, conducted from
26 June to 2 July 1995, was made possible by a grant from the
Luso-American Development Foundation. A public lecture on the conclusions of my
field work was presented at the Universidade do Porto on 30 June 1995,
and at a public conference, Forum do Côa, of involved officials and scholars,
held 1 July 1995 at the University of Lisbon. I was accompanied in
the field by Dr Mila Simões de Abreu, Ludwig Jaffe and Dr Paul G. Bahn.
Drs Vítor and Susana Oliveira Jorge also co-operated during my stay.
It should be stressed that only I am responsible for the conclusions of this
Professor B. K. Swartz, Jr., Department of Anthropology,
Ball State University, Muncie, IN 47306, U.S.A.
[This paper is to be republished in the Turin Congress proceedings.]
An investigation of the Portuguese government policies on the manage-ment
of the Foz Côa sites
B. K. SWARTZ, Jr.
Official IFRAO Consultant, Conservation of Côa Rock Art
On 14 August 1996 an e-mail message was sent to Shirley-Ann Pager,
in-coming President of the International Federation of Rock Art
Organizations (IFRAO). The print-out of this message, a bill of charges
by Ludwig Jaffe on the archaeological activities at Foz Côa by João
Zilhão and other archaeologists of the Ministry of Culture
of the Portuguese government, was given to this writer.
It was agreed that this issue be placed on the agenda of the IFRAO
Annual Meeting to be held on 16 August at Swakopmund, Namibia.
This message has subsequently been published (Jaffe 1996).
Grave concern of the charges was expressed by the IFRAO Representatives
at the meeting, and in partial response to the request by Jaffe that
an international commission be created to look into this matter, this
writer was designated to be an Official IFRAO Consult-ant for the
Conservation of Côa Rock Art. [It should be noted that in a letter,
dated 26 August 1996, Zilhão also suggested that a commission be formed,
composed of Paul Bahn, Andrea Arcá, Angelo Fossati and the writer
of this report. Arcá and Fossati declined the invitation and Bahn
was already willing to let me proceed at the Swakopmund meeting.]
The following is the report of my investigations.
Jaffe levels nine specific charges at the Ministry archaeologists.
None of the charges are documented by Jaffe, only asserted, and
none are specifically denied by Zilhão! This creates a ludicrous
situation for an outside investigation. For a comprehensive
investigation to be done it is necessary to solicit or subpoena
direct face to face testimony in Portugal from the individuals
involved. This is beyond my personal means and that of IFRAO.
Jaffes charges 5 and 8 are not pertinent in that the events in
question transpired while the resource was being managed the
Electricidade de Portugal (EDP), not the Ministry of Culture.
This investigator has no further information on the very serious
charges 1 and 7 than that made in the statement. Charge 2 is
admitted and defended by Zilhão. Fundamentally all the charges
listed can be grouped into two basic issues:
(1) care of the resource, and (2) accessibility to the resource.
The care of the resource can be further subdivided into two areas: (1) treatment of the surfaces of the rock art panels, and (2) recovery procedures for
portable archaeological remains in association with the rock art
(or in the district under management by the government), an aspect
of charge 6. The following can be inferred
from Zilhâos statement in his letter to IFRAO of 26 August 1996:
1. Whether lichen should, or should not, be removed from rocks [rock art panels]
... is a matter of scienti-fic debate - [non-removal] is inadequate and contradictory with the need for adequate study and
presen-tation of the panels to the public.
2. That Zilhão has, at the minimum, approved the lichen removal:
I [Zilhão] assume full responsibility for the decision to allow
my colleagues doing rock art recording to perform this [lichen] cleaning.
No mention is made of documentation of lichen growth prior to its removal.
If lichen must be removed it is probably best accomplished by killing
rather than by mechanical means. There are first-hand eyewitness
accounts of the presence of electric generators and the storage of
hoses in the area. There are hearsay statements that rock art panel
surfaces were washed with pressured water hoses by untrained personnel using
chemically treated water. It is now generally accepted worldwide that
recording methods requiring direct surface contact are inappropriate
(cf. American Committee to Advance the Study of Petroglyphs and Pictographs,
Inc. [ACASPP] statement on Standards for recording of petroglyphs
and pictographs, multiple publication including English, Spanish,
French and Italian versions, 1980-). The relation of direct contact procedures
with problems of conservation and public interpretation is less clear (see below).
Zilhão refers in his 26 August letter to ... archaeological excavations
that we made next to the rock panels. During the time of EDP management
of the Côa valley, in the summer of 1995, I noted extensive
disturbance of the soil in rock art areas, especially at the base of
various panels (Swartz 1995). I have a first-hand account that this
condition still persists under the management of the Ministry.
Controlled excavation and careful provenience recording are proper
functions of archaeological research. Minimal standards of field excavation,
for example those stated by the Society of Professional Archaeologists U.S.A.,
must be followed if professional field standards are to be maintained.
In this dispute no one has mentioned any statement or record of controlled
excavation in the area. It is, of course, possible that excavation units
have been backfilled, but this is not apparent from observation.
I noted no baulks or side walls in abandoned excavation pits.
Zilhão makes it clear in various statements, including his letter
of 26 August 1996, that his main concern is the interpretation of
the rock art to the public within the Archaeological Park of the Côa valley.
The concerns of public interpretation and conservation of a resource
come into conflict. As noted by this investigator (Swartz 1995: 5):
The heritage of rock art should be available for all humankind.
In the case of the Foz Côa the popu-lation of the area and the nation
has been intimately in-volved and a major force in its fate.
It is clear the Portuguese people deserved a well-interpreted rock art park.
It must also be stressed, however, that the Côa representations may be
tens of thousand of years old. If evidence of the past that has
survived for a period of time unimaginable to most is snuffed out,
the magnitude of such an act or activity must be realised.
Therefore it is incumbent on those in posi-tions of responsibility to act as the
conservators of the resource. It can never be replaced. Each situation,
environmentally and politically, is different and no rules can be universally
applied. This investigator believes that considerations of preservation must
be paramount in any management policy of rock art. Must visitors be shown
every example of rock art in the park? Must the rock art to be viewed be
made to look clear or can the original surface suffice? From information
I have in hand I am not certain what policy is being followed on these
matters by the Ministry archaeologists. These are not easy decisions
to make and honourable people can view things differently.
From the facts known to me, my view is that the present policy of the
Ministry archaeological program pays insufficient attention to the
preservation of Côa rock art for posterity.
The second basic issue is access to the resource.
As I was personally involved I can attest the validity of charge 9
made by Jaffe (1996). I can also attest to hostility directed at Dr Mila
Simões de Abreu (Portugals IFRAO Representative and independent
discoverer and promulgator of the Côa petroglyphs) by local officials in
1995. An event, subsequently labelled The Penascosa Incident,
transpired on 29 July 1996. In an apparent accidental encounter
at the site Abreu requested permission from Helena Moura, an
archaeologist employed by Zilhão, to visit a site across the river
(Quinta da Barca) which was explicitly denied. There are numerous
wit-nesses to this event (bus travellers, Mouras tour students,
a television crew and others). Mouras tour began with the students
and television crew entering the fenced off area (of the petroglyph
district). Jane Kolber (Chair of the Conservation Committee of
the American Rock Art Research Association), a colleague of
Abreu, followed the tour. When Kolber was identified Moura requested
a guard to escort her from the premises.
Another colleague of Abreu, Paul Firnhaber, was informed by Moura that
she was under orders [to deny permissions]. This incident has not been
denied by the Minist-ry archaeologists. Zilhão states that the site
of Quinta da Barca is still privately owned and the owner has not given
the Park authority to provide entry to the public. Zilhão is concerned
that Abreu did not communicate to the Park co-ordinator about Kolbers visit.
Kolber presented a series of criticisms about Park conservation practices
which were released to the general public before Park officials claim
they were aware of her presence in Portugal. Kolber states that she made
several efforts to contact Zilhão, beginning upon her arrival on 14 August 1996.
An article in the newspaper Expresso, enumerating Kolbers criticisms,
was published on 17 August.
There seems to be a pattern of academic xenophobia in some quarters
of the Portuguese government. This investigation has not discovered
from whom Moura got her orders. Zilhão has been co-operative with foreign
scholars. All persons with a legitimate academic interest in the Côa or any
other rock art resource, whether foreign or Portuguese, should have
free access to the resource, particularly active researchers who need to
refer to and expand their database. Rock art data are unique in that they
are not portable, hence physical access is critical.
This is an issue of academic freedom.
A supportive statement on Academic freedom and intellectual honesty
in rock art study is presented as an item in the Rock Art Ethical
Charter, a solemn declaration of the scholars who met at the
International Rock Art Congress NEWS95, Pinerolo, 9 May 1995.
There is little precedent on this issue. In the introduction of
Academic freedom, 1940 statement of principles and interpretive comments,
published by the American Association of University Professors it states Academic
freedom is essential to these purposes [free search for truth and ...
free expres-sion] and applies to ...research.
Freedom of research is fundamental to the advancement of truth.
In item (a) of the section Academic Freedom in the same document
it states The teacher [defined by footnote as an investigator who is
attached to an academic institution] is entitled to full freedom in
research and in the publication of the results ....
On the basis of this inquiry I propose two recommendations for approval
by IFRAO, to be forwarded to UNESCO:
1. In the management of rock art resources, primary consideration must
be given to the preservation of the resource for future study and appreciation.
2. Rock art manifestations provide information for data-bases and such
resources on public lands must be made available for study and research
by all interested and qualified scholars.
This investigator believes that the most effective way to establish the
proper procedures for shepherding rock art resources is to establish
a body of precedent derived from the study of rock art phenomena throughout the
world, not by arbitrarily issuing dicta and formal regulation.
I hope this investigation contributes to such an end.
JAFFE, L. 1996. Systematic vandalism and improper conduct in the
Côa valley rock art area. AURA Newsletter 13/2: 12-13.
SWARTZ, B. K., Jr. 1995. Unpublished report to the Luso-American
IFRAO Reports - IFRAO.NET