Volume 7, Number 5     

July 2015

Rachel George, Abbey Strunk, Lindsay Vermillion and Audrey Lindsay - Shumla's 2015 Summer Interns are here!
Abbey Strunk illustrates an anthropomorphic figure on a Wacom Cintiq tablet
The Fabulous Four

We'd like to introduce (from left) Rachel, Abbey, Lindsay and Audrey -- our Fabulous Four summer interns. 


These girls are smart, fun and super hard workers. Our Archaeologists have them working in the field documenting rock art, assessing the preservation status of important sites, creating figure illustrations on Cintiq tablets, making updates to images and files in our extensive databases and much more. 

Join us in welcoming and thanking them for their efforts!

Audrey Lindsay and Lindsay Vermillion prepare for field work at Panther Cave.
Taming the Beast

Data management is a crucial component of scientific research. Multiple terrabytes of collected data can easily get out of hand if steps are not taken to "tame the beast." 

Shumla is committed to maintaining the security, accessibility, and integrity of the data we collect. We have developed rigorous procedures for the long-term management and storage of our vast data sets. 


With increasing use of sophisticated digital technology, the demand on storage space is enormous. Recently, in just three weeks of field work, Shumla accumulated almost 750 gigabytes (GB) of raw data. This includes figure photography, Global Positioning System (GPS) data, Total Data Station (TDS) data, portable x-ray fluorescence (pXRF) elemental data, microphotography, figure attribute data, and so much more. How do we manage it all? Servers, RAID Systems, Back Ups, File structures, and Naming Conventions...oh my!



Shumla utilizes three separate servers. One is dedicated to the administrative files of the organization. One holds exclusively research data. The third as a fail safe in the event either of the other servers goes down. 

RAID Systems

Disk drives, just like any piece of hardware, will eventually fail. To protect us from the inevitable, our servers incorporate variations of redundant arrays of independent disks, or RAID systems. These systems provide protection from drive failures through disk mirroring and offer a performance boost by dividing all data among multiple disks, thus splitting the workload. 


Back Ups

Utilizing RAID is not a substitute for regular data backups. RAID can help minimize data loss, but ultimately backups are required to protect collected data. Shumla backs up data on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Daily backups are stored on the server itself, but weekly and monthly backups are stored on an offsite server away from headquarters. 

File Structure

Within our research server we've developed a particular file structure that keeps our data organized. We create site folders named with unique site trinomials. Within these site folders data is separated into categories:

  • 3D Models − 3D modeling data
  • Conservation  conservation and site or art degradation data
  • Crew and Site Photography − photographs not directly related to figure data
  • Databases − individual site and photo databases
  • Figures − data pertaining to specific identified figures, including photographs
  • Mapping (GIS) − geospatial information
  • pXRF − elemental analyses for figures and the site as a whole
  • Site Documents − site forms and the SHPO site forms (TexSite)
  • Stratigraphic Analysis − relationships of paint layers within and across figures. 

Naming Conventions

Shumla takes thousands of photographs. Original RAW photos are saved in a folder marked "Originals." They are converted into .DNG (Digital Negative) format -- a "universal" file format for uncompressed photos that allows metadata to be written directly onto the file and deals effectively with the color management. Duplicate .JPEGs are then created from the .DNG files. We rename the .JPEG duplicates according to a set naming converntion: the site trinomial, photo type, figure number, subject, and the last four digits of the original RAW photo number. 


Yes, it may seem mundane, but data management is a big deal to the Shumla staff. The data we collect will preserve the information the ancient murals hold long after they are gone...but only if it is managed properly. That's why we take "taming the beast" very seriously. 

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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