Volume 7, Number 6     

August 2015

The art is often found high up on the rock shelter walls. Ancient peoples built scaffolding to paint murals on these walls. Just like Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel - they planned their composition, built scaffolding, mixed their paint, and meticulously created a mural that visually told the story they wanted to tell.
Doing What We Do BEST!
Shumla Team Members - 10
Temperature - 106
Heat Index - 111
Recording the mural before it's lost - PRICELESS
Field work in August in southwest Texas is tough - there's no way around it. But the Shumla team's commitment to preserving the ancient "books" of the Lower Pecos Canyonlands is tougher.  Check out these shots of our team in the field last week.
When you donate to Shumla, you make this work -- the preservation of priceless records of ancient history -- possible.

Donate today! www.shumla.org
Holding the scale up for the photographer can sometimes be a challenge.
Lindsay Vermillion and Carolyn Boyd consider figures high up on the wall.
The Shumla team in action. 
Shumla intern Abbey Strunk working carefully on a figure illustration with the Cintiq pen display.
Coloring for Science

A picture speaks a thousand words, but Shumla's figure illustrations say so much more. 

Each figure in a rock art panel is painstakingly illustrated using the latest digital technology. For example, the WACOM Cintiq Pen Display -- a digital drawing pad -- allows Shumla illustrators to trace the figure, its attributes, and any associated figures with a digital pen.

"Coloring for science" can be fun, but we take the process seriously and follow very specific steps to produce complete illustrations.

First, we select a close-up photo of the figure. Here's two examples. The art is hard to see - isn't it... Just wait!
Next we use D-Stretch to enhance the photo through different color channels, allowing us to identify paint that may be hard to see with the naked eye.
We import the original and enhanced copies of the figure photo into Photoshop, and create a new Photoshop layer for the initial sketch of the figure. This initial sketch records the figure as it appears in the present day. 

Next, we digitally apply the different colors of paint within the figure as separate layers, recording what the figure may have originally looked like when first painted. We then draw the spalled and obscured areas of the figure, as well as any natural features of the rockshelter wall, in new layers.

The final product is a highly detailed and comprehensive figure illustration. 

These illustrations give us a snapshot of the condition of the overall figure and help us more closely examine a figure and its attributes. They also preserve forever -- in digital format -- art that will continue to deteriorate and eventually be lost. 
Help us preserve the oldest 'books' in North America

Your donation will go directly to our research and education initiatives.

Look closely - can you seen the intricate mural on the rock shelter wall? Visit our website - www.shumla.org - for a closer view of the White Shaman mural.

Shumla's  Mission

Preserving the 

oldest 'books' in
North America


Like a book, each ancient mural in the Lower Pecos Canyonlands was authored and composed to communicate concepts and beliefs.


The paintings are not just lovely to look at, they are visual narratives that hold meaning and information. They were created by intelligent and creative people, like us, to share their stories and culture with one another. And now, thousands of years later, we are learning to read them. These 'books' will add new chapters to the prehistory of North America. 


At Shumla, we work to preserve and share this 'library' of painted texts and the information they hold through documentation, research, stewardship and education.



Documentation: Recording the Fragile Artwork

We use the latest technological advances to document each painted narrative as a whole and each figure individually, creating an exhaustive searchable database that can be used by researchers for years to come, long after the paintings have disappeared.


Research: Unraveling the Mural's Mysteries

We painstakingly study the data we collect to learn how the paintings were produced and decipher the meaning of the images and the act of creating them. Our cutting-edge research will illuminate long-lost myths and beliefs.


Stewardship: Encouraging Interest and Awareness

Many murals are located on private property. Landowners are best able to protect the art on their land. We collaborate with them to access and document the murals in a respectful and un-intrusive way. We also increase overall awareness of the art to engage others in its protection.


Education: Connecting to Our Shared Past

We open this remote region and its cultural treasure trove to visitors, volunteers, students, teachers, and researchers from around the world. We collaborate on exhibits, publish and present our findings and make our data, results and methods available to all.
Shumla Wish List

Thank you to all who have donated items from our Wish List in the past. We value your help so deeply. Each gift, each dollar, each small or large item makes a difference in our ability to do our work. Your support means the world to us.  Thank you!

Have you ever considered Amazon Smile? 
When you sign up, Amazon will donate a small portion (0.5%) of your purchase amount to the non-profit of your choice (Hint: Starts with an "Sh" and ends with a "umla"). Thanks!

Shumla Archaeological Research & Education Center 

PO Box 627 / 148 Sanderson / Comstock, TX 78837 USA

enews@shumla.org    432-292-4848      www.shumla.org 


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Article submissions, questions and comments can be sent to: jlee@shumla.org  

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