February 2017

A Note from the Director

National Geographic is a world-wide household name. A s their tagline states, they have been "Exploring and Protecting the Planet since 1888." For many of us, National Geographic magazines were the first view we ever had of the world outside our home. 

When I was a child, my grandmother had shelves and shelves of those iconic yellow magazines. I would sit for hours beneath those shelves devouring the bright images and amazing stories. This opened my world-view and fired my curiosity. What's more, it introduced me to a career path of scientific discovery that others, like Jane Goodall (above), paved. A path I continue to walk with my colleagues at Shumla. 

So, you will understand, Shumla friends, how much it means to us to announce that the National Geographic Society has awarded Shumla a grant to support a month-long feasibility study in advance of the Alexandria Project.  This is an incredible vote of confidence from National Geographic Society's Committee for Research and Exploration

Read on to learn more about the project they've funded and its implications. But first, join us in a moment of giddy excitement as we let it sink in... National Geographic supports our work! National Geographic, who has  funded groundbreaking scientists and explorers for over 130 years. National Geographic, who, as they state on their website, gives " grants to scientists and conservationists whose work is making a real difference in the world." We are so proud to be added to those ranks. They won't be disappointed!

All the very best,

Rock art documentation in action
Alexandria Project Pilot 

Testing our Methods to Prepare for Three Year's of Intensive Field Work and Data Processing
When undertaking a long-term research project, researchers in most scientific fields conduct a "pilot" or feasibility study to test the viability of their research design. 

A pilot allows the researchers to:
  • Determine whether their proposed method and process are appropriate
  • Test the accuracy of the time and budget allotted,
  • Check personnel numbers and training, and
  • Experience on a smaller scale any issues that may arise in a less "high-stakes" environment.
Shumla's Alexandria Project is designed as a three-year field-intensive project to gather baseline data at over 300 known rock art sites in Val Verde County. With landowner permission, our goal is to visit 10 rock art sites per month. In this way, Shumla staff will systematically catalog and digitally preserve these spectacular visual narratives in our North American Archaic library. 

To make sure our team is prepared to tackle such an ambitious project on such an aggressive  timeline, we will conduct the Alexandria Project Pilot -- a month-long test of all aspects of our Alexandria Project research design. Between February 27 and March 27 we will visit and document 10 sites in the Devil's River State Natural Area - South Unit and process all data gathered.
What is learned from our pilot project will be incorporated into our Alexandria Project research design. National Geographic recognizes the importance of these types of feasibility  studies to the success of the overall project. That's why they have partially funded Shumla's Alexandria Project Pilot. 

We will be sharing fun facts about our Alexandria Project research design in up-coming eNewsletters, like what is a GigaPan anyway? Stay tuned! 

Dr. Carolyn Boyd is the 2017 Recipient of Society for American Archaeology's Scholarly Book Award 
The White Shaman Mural: An Enduring Creation Narrative in the Rock Art of the Lower Pecos

The Society for American Archaeology (SAA) is the leading archaeological association in the United States. The Scholarly Book Award is given to one book a year that "has had, or is expected to have, a major impact on the direction and character of archaeological research."

This is an incredible honor for the book and for Carolyn. It shows that the SAA and the archaeological community recognize the ground-breaking importance of what Carolyn has done. Rock art studies have long been considered a "fuzzy" science. Carolyn has shown that rock art can be researched scientifically and patterns found using a strong scientific method can lead to substantive interpretation.

Congratulations, Carolyn! We can't wait to applaud you as you accept your award at the 2017 SAA Conference in Vancouver in April.
Did you catch Carolyn Boyd on Texas Country Reporter?

The segment aired this weekend!  

Shumla and Research Director, Carolyn Boyd, was the topic of this weekend's Texas Country Reporter show with Bob Phillips. It will continue to air nation-wide this week.  Click here to find showtimes in your area! When it becomes available online, we'll be sure to share it.

The Witte Museum Honors the Rock Art Foundation & Greg and Linda Williams

On February 11, Witte team members, Rock Art Foundation members and guides, and Shumla staff and board members gathered together at the Witte Museum to honor the work of the Rock Art Foundation and its Executive Director Greg Williams and his wife Linda. It was a lovely luncheon with remarks made by Marise McDermott (Witte President & CEO), Dr. David Bayles (Witte Curator of Anthropology and Health), Pat McCaffrey (Rock Art Foundation Board President), and Greg Williams. 

Pat McCaffrey presents Greg and Linda with the gift of a bench emblazoned with their names and legacy. The bench will be positioned at the Rock Art Foundation White Shaman Preserve of the Witte Museum in Comstock, TX. 

The attendees also got a sneak peek of the People of the Pecos Gallery, still receiving its finishing touches before the March 4th grand opening. The hall is visually stunning. You feel you are entering the rock shelters and desert savannah lands of the Archaic hunter-gatherers. Before you in state-of-the-art displays rest artifacts, some many thousands of years old, that were once held, used and cherished by the people of the Pecos. 

We were particularly excited to see the Rock Art Interactive Exhibit. Shumla was contracted by the Witte to develop the high resolution graphics and the informational content for this high-tech display. It offers visitors the ability to select a rock art mural image to be projected onto a faux rock shelter wall. Then they can make selections on an interactive panel to learn about the mural and its figures. 

The Shumla group - from left: David Graf (Shumla Board Treasurer), Candy Graf, Karen Steelmen (Shumla Asst. Research Director), Jessica Lee (Shumla Exec. Director), Missy Harrington (Shumla Librarian), Judy Van Cleve (Shumla Board Secretary), Brenda Norman (Shumla Accounting and HR Manager), Jack Johnson, Amanda Castaneda (Shumla Board Member), Isabelle Driel, Lacy Finley (Shumla Board Member), Charles Koenig, Elton Prewitt (Shumla Board Vice President)

We were so happy to be there, to see the exhibit, to support the Witte and to offer our deep appreciation to the Rock Art Foundation and to Greg and Linda Williams.

Spotlight on 
Judy Van Cleve

Secretary of the Board 

Judy Van Cleve, Campus Manager of the Austin Community College Round Rock Campus, was first introduced to the rock art of the Lower Pecos when her friend, Elton  Prewitt, invited her to hear Dr. Carolyn Boyd speak about her first book at UT Austin.  Judy  was intrigued because she had always been interested in how people of all times and geographies are the same physically, mentally and culturally. Carolyn's  presentation showed that rock art can illustrate the ways people used technology, their environment, and their vision of the universe to survive.  Her findings showed that peoples around the world are not so very different and, in fact, their stories were in many cases very much the same.

Judy decided to join the Board in 2014 to  give back to an organization that had done so much to open our eyes to the lifeways and myths of the people of the Lower Pecos. She feels very strongly about the importance of protecting the narrative murals. In her own words, "The resource we have been given is a finite resource. It could be gone within 50 years and along with any knowledge of the people who left the work for us. These people with no modern technology flourished in the harsh Southwest Texas environment which most people today could not survive. With our own dwindling natural resources, it may be time for us to look not only to the stars but to the land and the people who knew its secrets."

Thank you, Judy, for your service! 
Make Us Smile!

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Thank you!
Visit Del Rio!

Come for the rock art, stay for the atmosphere! The rock art of the Lower Pecos could not be situated in a more beautiful setting. The desert is vast here, with huge skies and rolling hills that meet the crystal blue waters of the Amistad Reservoir. After you've visited the rock art, you can bird watch, water ski, bass fish, and then go camping for the night. Or you might like to visit the quaint shops of Del Rio's old town and drink wine at the Val Verde winery. In Del Rio there are lots of comfy places to stay and yummy places to eat. And you'll always find a warm welcome. Come and see!

Shumla Archaeological Research & Education Center 
P.O. Box 627, Comstock, TX 78837 USA
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Questions and comments can be sent to:  jlee@shumla.org