Angus Quinlan


Angus Quinlan was born and raised in the United Kingdom, where his early interest in history developed in a lifelong passion for the archaeology of prehistoric social systems. He received a Ph.D in archaeology from the University of Southampton in 1993 and is now an established researcher of Great Basin archaeology and rock art. Angus has led archaeological inventories of major rock art sites in a variety of settings throughout Nevada and has presented and published widely. His research interests include Great Basin rock art, prehistoric religion and ritual, and social archaeology. Angus has made northern Nevada his home since 2004 and is the Executive Director of the Nevada Rock Art Foundation.

Photo credit:



Nevada is home to some 1,200 sites of prehistoric rock art – places where enigmatic markings that have socialized the natural landscape features into culturally meaningful places. In a lavishly illustrated presentation, archaeologist and Great Basin expert Angus Quinlan explores what the ages, styles, and themes of Nevada rock art can potentially teach us about the social practices and cultural practices of the societies that made and used this aesthetic form. As he explains, trends in interpreting these astonishing images are subject to change: it was once common to argue that rock art was created as a form of magic to ensure hunting success and the abundance of critical local resources. More recently, however, it has become mainstream to contend that it actually records important shamanistic visionary experiences that were the source of traditional healers’ powers. Meanwhile, others believe that rock art can in fact be viewed as a hierarchical form of encoded cultural information which only those with social power were authorized to interpret. The presentation sheds light on the rich cultural legacy of Nevada’s prehistoric rock art from an anthropological perspective.

Appropriate Audience:  Adults.

Duration: 1-1½ hours. Please discuss the appropriate length for your organization with the Presenter.

Presenter Requirements: 

  • Means for screening PowerPoint presentation

If equipment indicated above is unavailable, please discuss alternatives with Presenter.

Categories: Nevada, environment, Native American culture and interest