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Remembering the Sound of Images: Cross-cultural study of rock art soundscapes and knowledge transmission in the New and Old Worlds.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MEMORISING (Remembering the Sound of Images: Cross-cultural study of rock art soundscapes and knowledge transmission in the New and Old Worlds.)

Reporting period: 2018-01-15 to 2020-01-14

How do societies remember and pass on knowledge?

Memories are fragile, and remembering is usually a volatile process and thus, people around the world, and through time, have created ways to recall events and to share knowledge. Memorising is not an intellectual process only, it involves a deep connection with feelings and emotions about how people remember their ancestors and the places that are important to them. The MEMORISING project is a training-through-research project aiming to explore the relationships between memory, rock art the acoustics of the site. But also, to incorporate other sounds that are part of the process through which memory is constructed such as music, songs and natural sounds. In this sense, some rock art sites globally still have contemporary values to people who live next to them and who sometimes use them and perform ritual activities. Thus, memories have a profound impact on the configuration of identity and reinforce the associations between members of a group.

The importance of sound to present-day local communities has been explored through interviews following cultural and ethic protocols, historical and ethnographic accounts. At the Universitat de Barcelona (UB) I have received acoustic training to test the parameters during fieldwork activities in test areas, mainly in Oaxaca and Baja California Sur in Mexico. The results have been disseminated widely in ten academic conferences, two seminars and social impact has been sought through activities in local communities and media publications. Also, reports to local authorities and heritage managers have promoted future sustainability use and possible exploitation of the sites.
The MEMORISING project has been undertaking exciting training and fieldwork in two different contexts. First at the intricate Sierra de San Francisco in Baja California Sur in Mexico (a World Heritage site with exceptional rock art) where access is only possible by mules, and at a unique 1km-deep cave in the Mixe region of Oaxaca. The work at Sierra de San Francisco has provided valuable results and comparisons with previous research undertaken in the European context by the UB team. It made it possible for us to evaluate how cultural aspects differ in hunter-gatherer societies between Mexico and Spain. This study-case research speaks to questions regarding the methodology and the analysis of the placement of rock art in the landscape concerning sound.

On the other hand, in Oaxaca, I am the first female researcher to do investigations of the cave. I have implemented a collaborative work with the Ayuujk people in the Mixe region, which has provided invaluable information about the associations between plastic and rock art with indigenous knowledge. This site, in particular, has provided an outstanding opportunity to test some of my previous ideas about memorisation processes. Indigenous knowledge and ethnographic accounts complement, not without limitations, the analysis of the archaeological evidence. This opportunity allows us to suggest how cultural transmission occurred in those societies.

It should be noted that when working with indigenous populations, it is fundamental to have both federal and traditional authorisation to undertake any archaeological research activity. In this sense, the National Institute of Anthropology and History of Mexico (Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia INAH), is the institution that regulates all research in Mexico. INAH provided the official permits to undertake the archaeological activities both at Baja California and Oaxaca.

I have documented rock art and the acoustics in the field. Still, also, I have engaged in theoretical discussions in a session I organised with other colleagues at the European Association of Archaeologists international conference. This occasion brought researchers from other countries such as Australia, Portugal and South Africa who discussed further the need for a multidisciplinary approach between the intersections of memory and rock art.
Throughout my fellowship, I have considered more seriously the importance of the social effects of archaeological practice and knowledge construction. Thus I have taken the opportunity to develop collaborative work with indigenous communities. But also, I have engaged further on ethical procedures in archaeological research. I have discussed this topic in classes at the UB during the Masters of Advanced Courses in Archaeology, and seminars the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico in Mexico City and Morelia, Michoacán.

The work that has been carried out brings benefits to society in two levels: heritage awareness and potential economic development. Specifically in Oaxaca, it is envisaged to carry out a communitarian museum at a local village in the future. European examples such as Altamira in Spain and Lascaux in France, highly valued internationally for their rock art, have served as examples of the negative impact that excessive tourism has on the preservation of heritage. A management plan to protect the cave in the Mixe region is underway. It will help to promote a local project that will enhance the economy of the community while also serving as a pilot study of cultural management to similar contexts.

Other results of this project have been the activities to disseminate the results to the public. I have organised 1) a workshop at a selected primary school in the local community of Oaxaca where various activities were given to 120 children, 2) a photographic exhibition and 3) two public talks to the community. These activities have served to communicate the importance of rock art, sounds and knowledge and to involve people in the protection of the site. On this note, the massive public dissemination and press releases have been limited since it is crucial first to protect this highly valuable cultural asset. Once these aspects are taken care of, wider dissemination will be planned in which EU funding will be fully acknowledged
The cave had paintings and also plastic art that we recorded during our excursions. Our team took th
A red hand stencil in the end section of the cave provides evidence on the human occupation of the c
I organised a workshop with the local teachers to talk to children about the fragility of rock paint