Petrosomatoglyph  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A petrosomatoglyph is an image of parts of a human or animal body incised in rock. Many were created by Celtic peoples, such as the Picts, Scots, Irish, Cornish, Cumbrians, Bretons and Welsh. These representations date from the Early Middle Ages; others of uncertain purpose date back to megalithic times. They were an important form of symbolism, used in religious and secular ceremonies, such as the crowning of kings. Some are regarded as artefacts linked to saints and folklore heroes, such as King Arthur.

The word comes from the Greek πέτρα – petra ("stone"), σῶμα – soma ("body"), and γλύφειν – glyphein ("to carve"). Feet are the most common; however, knees, elbows, hands, head, fingers, etc., are also found.

The term petrosomatoglyph should not be confused with petroglyph, which covers all incised representations of living or non-living things, or with pictograph, which is an image drawn or painted on a rock face, and both of which contribute to the wider and more general category of rock art. Petroforms, or patterns and shapes such as labyrinths and mazes made by many large rocks and boulders in rows over the ground, are also quite different.

Stylised representations of parts of the body are often open to dispute and are therefore on the fringes of acceptability as identifiable petrosomatoglyphs. Natural objects, such as rock crystals and rock formations which look like petrosomatoglyphs, whole animals, plants, etc., are collectively called "mimeoliths".

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Petrosomatoglyph" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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