The meaning of ‘the Indigenous petroglyph was an overwrite

The passage below is from Fathoms: The World in the Whale Hardcover by Rebecca Giggs.

Stand to one side a moment, to picture it: a seabird dawn, the departing ship faint on the grey horizon. Someone runs their thumb over the newfound text, its little notched serifs, the mystifying, sidewinding S in SHP. CONNECT-I-CUT rolls under their touch and they inquire of the word, its feeling as a sensation; a texture, a sculpture, an animacy. So Connecticut makes landfall soundlessly, dressed in the disguise of its anglicisation, having crossed an earlier border from Algonquian where once it was ‘Quinnehtukqut’ (meaning, ‘beside a long tidal river’). (A touchstone, a dashed track.) What the Yaburara thought, or said, on discovering these foreign incisions, is lost — not because of the attrition of time and memory, but as a result of the genocide and generational traumas that followed. Until microscopic analysis revealed otherwise, researchers suspected that the hatching action might have been the Yaburara striking out the whalers’ words; that the Indigenous petroglyph was an overwrite. But perhaps it was no epiphany to the Yaburara to hear it was the other way around.

The meaning of ‘the Indigenous petroglyph was an overwrite’.

Here does ‘the Indigenous petroglyph’ refer to the Yaburara hatching?

(I’m asking this because I’m wondering if hatching could be called petroglyph.)

Am I right? (Then you don’t need to read the following.)

If I’m wrong another question comes up.

Overwrite means to destroy (old data) by recording new data over it.

But why does ‘the Indigenous petroglyphbecame an overwrite’, I have no idea.

Thanks in advance.

Stenka25Here does ‘the Indigenous petroglyph’ refer to the Yaburara hatching?

As I understand it, yes.


This text is written in a very high-level academic literary style. It is really obscure and difficult for someone who is learning English.

If you read some background information, you can understand this paragraph much better. It shows the petrograph described in the text, the seaman's inscription and the scientific investigation on which came first.. You can easily see the hatching (hatch marks).


Stenka25‘the Indigenous petroglyph

That is the drawing on the rock by the local people who had inhabited the area since ancient times.

The scientists had two theories:

1. The petroglyph was there when the seaman inscribed his name and other information on the same place.

2. The seaman inscribed his name on a bare blank rock, and then the indigenous people tried to scratch it out by adding their own hatch marks. (#####) So this was a overwrite of the seaman's writing. ( ‘the Indigenous petroglyphbecame an overwrite’, )

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Thanks a lot as always, GPY.

 AlpheccaStars's reply was promoted to an answer.
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Thanks a lot as always, AlpheccaStars.