History : Jan-Feb 2018
4 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 NEWS Rio Grande. Filling the walls with pictures of people and animals, these ancient in- habitants of southwestern Texas inscribed the stories of early America. Dammed and Saved Since the 1930s, when doc- umentation of these mys- terious sites was first made, that remain are under threat from further flooding. But there is hope. Based in Comstock, at the heart of the lower Pecos region, the Shumla Archaeological Research & Education Center has hit on a way of preserving the murals for posterity. Founded in 1998 by archaeologist Carolyn Boyd, T hey saw the Europe- ans arriving and drew them: men on horse- back and figures in Spanish dress. Long before then—as early as 4,700 years ago—the hunter-gatherers of the Southwest had been painting scenes from their lives on the canyons where the Pecos River meets the Saving America’s Oldest Chronicles Paintings from 2700 b.c. to the a.d. 1500s adorn the canyonlands of Texas. A new project is preserving them in high-tech images, so if they ever disappear, their thrilling story can still be told. ARCHAIC ROCK ART there have been huge strides in deciphering the vivid nar- ratives within the murals. But this unique chronicle of thou- sands of years of human histo- ry, which holds the key to the worldview of ancient Ameri- can societies, is increasingly under threat. Many sites were lost when the Rio Grande was dammed in 1969, and those SIGNS OF THE TIMES PICTOGRAPHS ON THE MAIN ROCK ART PANEL OF SUNBURST SHELTER INCLUDE PECOS RIVER STYLE PAINTINGS DATING FROM 2700 B.C . TO A.D. 600.