A Note from the Director

It's hard to grasp the magnitude of the task we have before us at Shumla. Our mission is to preserve the oldest "books" in North America. But what does that really mean?

Imagine for a moment that you discovered, under the waters of the Mediterranean, a room from the Library of Alexandria. This room, against all odds, survived fiery destruction in 48 A.D. The flames sealed the doors and preserved hundreds of scrolls that tell of ancient philosophy, botany, astronomy, mythology, ritual. 

What would you do? You'd assemble a crack team of the best researchers in the world. You'd gather the most advanced equipment available. You'd assess the treasure one scroll at a time, determining which are the most deteriorated, which are the most important. Then, in order of priority, you'd digitize each and every one to preserve it forever and to share it with the world. 

This is what we are doing at Shumla. This is the kind of knowledge we are preserving. It's just housed in a much larger "room" on much larger "scrolls." 

After eighteen years of research on the murals of the Lower Pecos, Shumla has developed and perfected a unique method of digital preservation. An incredible group of scientists has been drawn to this investigation and are now part of ongoing research. We are the crack team. We have the most advanced technology. We have the skill and the will to preserve, for all people, the knowledge in this library of over 300 ancient murals in our "room" of 8,000 square miles. In partnership with the landowners and with the support of generous donors, we can do it. 

The Old World lost the Library of Alexandria. We have a comparable library of ancient "written" knowledge here in the New World and it's in danger.  Read on to learn about our plans to save it! 

All the best,

Jessica Lee
Executive Director
Introducing The Alexandria Project

Sometimes it's Julius Cesar.  Sometimes Mother Nature. 
But ancient heritage never seems to be out of danger. 

The Library of Alexandria is gone. The library of the Lower Pecos is still here, in part, and Shumla has a plan for it's preservation: "The Alexandria Project." 
The globally-recognized Shumla Method documents each mural so thoroughly that it can forever be studied, and even recreated, if the mural itself is lost. The Shumla Method includes three levels of documentation. (Learn about each level.) Though each site must eventually be documented completely, full documentation is intensive and can take up to two years at a large site. 

The Need
There are 320 known mural sites in Val Verde County alone. More are discovered each year. At the present rate, and with our current number of archaeologists, it would take over 100 years to preserve them all. We don't have that much time. Many sites will be destroyed by flooding. Most of the others are deteriorating at a rapid pace. We must visit and collect critical baseline information at each site as soon as possible. 

The Alexandria Project
The Alexandria Project is designed to preserve the Lower Pecos murals with the same planning and efficiency that one would use to catalog and preserve the books in a library. The project will be completed in two main phases. 
  • Phase 1 - Assessment and Baseline Data Gathering
    • A three-year project to be conducted 2017 to 2020
  • Phase 2 - Full Documentation of All Sites
    • An on-going project to be conducted in 2020 and beyond
Phase 1 Plan
Shumla will add two new archaeologists to our team. Working with landowners and with express permission,  Shumla's team of five archaeologists will follow a rigorous research and data management plan to complete baseline documentation at as many of the 320 recorded rock art sites in Val Verde County as possible. We plan to do this in just three years. This means we must visit approximately 10 sites per month.
At each site we will:
  • Capture a high-resolution Gigapan image of each entire mural,
  • Record an accurate GPS coordinate,
  • Capture image data for SfM Photogrammetry 3-D Modeling,
  • Complete a State of Texas Archeological Site Form (TexSite Form),
  • Complete Shumla's Rock Art Site Form, and
  • Complete canyon surveys near known sites to discover new sites.
Phase 1 Goal
Successful completion of this project will:
  • Give us a more complete picture of our library of painted texts,
  • Gather imagery of the rock art for an entire archaeological region,
  • Establish a baseline record of the rock art in its current condition,
  • Result in the formation of a giant data set that can be used by scholars and students to explore and answer globally-significant questions, and
  • Allow Shumla to correctly prioritize sites for Phase 2 full documentation based on threat level, preservation level, complexity and importance.
Phase 1 Cost
$2,000,000 over three years

The Alexandria Project is ambitious. In fact, this is the most ambitious project Shumla has ever undertaken. However, we can no longer preserve one site at a time. We must think of the bigger picture and the larger goal. 

If we are serious about preserving what we now know is an almost unimaginable library of information about Mesoamerican and North American cultures, painted thousands of years before we thought it was possible to have a "written" record, we must treat it as such. We must preserve it with the whole library in mind, not just book by book.

It's a big job, but somebody's gotta do it. 

As you know, this is the last year of our multi-year matching challenge grant. We will apply our final $100,000 match to launch The Alexandria Project in 2017. 

This will not only contribute toward our three-year $2,000,000 budget directly, but it will help us in our foundation fundraising efforts. Such a large sum from such a diverse donor base will demonstrate to foundations that we have the support of the broader public to preserve these sites. 

Please consider a gift to Shumla to help us succeed. Thank you!
Spotlight on Kate Snow

Shumla's newest employee is an archaeologist on a mission -- a mission to ensure that Shumla's archaeology can continue. 

Kate got her B.A. in History/Anthropology at Texas Christian University in Ft. Worth and her M.A. in Archaeology from the University College London. Then, as so often happens, life took her down a different path. She spent the next 15 years working as a fundraiser for organizations like the Red Cross and the Ladder Alliance. Now, her path has led her to Shumla and a place where she can merge her passion for archaeology with her skill set in fund development. 

Shumla has big goals for the preservation of one of the most important collections of knowledge in the new world. To reach our goals and ensure the success of The Alexandria Project, we have to secure significant financial support, consistently. As a non-profit, every dollar we spend to gather data on the library of the Lower Pecos, is a dollar we have had to raise through individual donations and foundation grants. Kate will facilitate this process in her new role as Shumla's part-time Development Manager. 

We could not be more excited to welcome Kate to our team. She fits right in with our heady passion for all things ancient, while resting her feet squarely in the world of non-profit development realities. 

Join me in welcoming Kate Snow!
Help us reach the $100,000 match!

Donate now to help us save this ancient library. 
Every dollar you give will be matched!


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Shumla Archaeological Research & Education Center 
P.O. Box 627, Comstock, TX 78837 USA    432-292-4848 
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