Digitally Documenting Eagle Nest Canyon

Looking towards the cane- choked Rio Grande from Eagle Nest Canyon

Looking towards the cane- choked Rio Grande from Eagle Nest Canyon

Charles Koenig describes how the Ancient Southwest Texas Project  (ASWTP) is documenting the archaeology of Eagle Nest Canyon using Structure from Motion technology.  ASWTP is working in this canyon during Spring 2014. Please subscribe to their blog at the link below to follow the work on an almost-daily basis.

The Structure from Motion Revolution: Digitally Documenting the Archaeology of Eagle Nest Canyon.

via The Structure from Motion Revolution: Digitally Documenting the Archaeology of Eagle Nest Canyon.

Teddy Stickney, Rock Art Pioneer

The intrepid Teddy Stickney

The intrepid Teddy Stickney

I am happy to welcome Teddy Stickney as my guest today.  Teddy has been recording rock art in Texas for almost 25 years and helped develop the early guidelines for this task.

Thanks for being with us today, Teddy.  How did you first become interested in rock art?    I became aware of rock art when I was about 6 years old.  There was a large Navajo kachina incised in the sand stone wall in a canyon across the San Juan river from my Dad’s property in New Mexico.

You are an official archaeology steward for the Texas Historical Commission. 

Teddy recording rock art

Teddy recording rock art

What does that entail?  I’ve been a volunteer steward for my area in West Texas for 21 years. Stewards monitor archaeological resources for the THC.   For example, the THC may want a certain area to be surveyed for archaeological evidence. We volunteer to investigate these sites. We also keep an eye on construction sites that may be near archaeological resources, and try to get to know any arrowhead collectors in the region. We act as additional eyes and eyes for the historical commission. There is so much territory to cover, they just can’t do it all.

I know you’ve been part of a number of field schools and recording projects.  What are some of your most memorable ones?  One of the best ones for me was during the Texas Archeological Society’s field school near Dolan Springs on the Devil’s River in 1989. The survey crews were out finding new rock art, so we concluded that we were going to have many more sessions of recording on this property.  Our group formulated guidelines for recording that we used for at least the next 18 months during these sessions.

Have you done much travelling outside Texas as part of your rock art interest?

Taking exact measurements

Taking exact measurements

Before I got involved in Texas I had worked with Col. James Bain in New Mexico, who was the petroglyph curator for the Museum of New Mexico. I also worked with Jane Kolber who ran rock art field schools in Arizona and did some work in Utah.  So I had had some experience with recording rock art before the field in 1989.  Also Paul Steed, who wrote The Rock Art of Chaco Canyon (1980), was in the rock art crew for the 1989 field school.  Paul had world experience in photographing.

Is there any particular type of rock art you are especially interested in?    I don’t think there is any type of rock art that I like better than another. I think all of it is very important because it is record of the culture. Rock art tells a story of the activities of the culture, the people’s daily routine, the animals around them, and so on.

Tell us about any mishaps or adventures you’ve had in your rock art exploration. 

Teddy examines abstract figures

Teddy examines ancient painting

Well, one time we were camping in the Texas Panhandle in March, and it was so cold the water in the coffee pot froze. Then there was walking the high ledge to Curly Tail Panther shelter overlooking the Devil’s River in the Lower Pecos. The bad part was that once I got there, I realized I had to walk it again to get out!  Then there’s hiking in a rough canyon of Big Bend State Park with heavy backpacks searching for a site in 105 temperatures. Once I walked about six miles on a very worn trail near the Rio Grande and found a recent camp site with a fire pit and modern trash. I figure it was a trail used by illegal immigrants, but I didn’t see anybody.

What are some of the big questions that still interest you about rock art?  I would love to talk with one of the artists that painted or incised art on a wall.  I’d love to hear their thoughts on their art. What did the site location mean to them? I’m interested in how their mixed their paint and managed all the painting. Did one person do it or was it done as a group?

 What advice would you give someone who wanted to get involved in archaeology or learning about rock art?  Join the Texas Archeological Society, participate in a field school, and research rock art on the internet.

News from Eagle Nest Canyon Project

Road to the Rio Grande

Road to the Rio Grande

Geoarchs in Action: Dirt by Many Other Names.

Click on the link above to see this week’s news from the Ancient Southwest Texas Project working in Eagle Nest Canyon, Langtry, Texas this spring.  Dr. Stephen L. Black, Texas State University, my Steve, is leading the project.

New Excavation Work at Eagle Nest Canyon

Eagle Nest Canyon at Langtry, Texas. The canyon opens into the Rio Grande.

Eagle Nest Canyon at Langtry, Texas. The canyon opens into the Rio Grande.

Dr. Stephen L. Black, Texas State University, is leading new archaeological work in Eagle Nest Canyon near Langtry, Texas, this spring.  Charles Koening is assistant director. Day 1 of the work is reported below in their new blog, http://www.aswtproject.wordpress.com.

Please click “follow” on their blog to get daily updates. They plan to post every day to share their progress.

2014 Eagle Nest Canyon Expedition – Day 1.

Bulls and Stags Meet in Houston

The Stags at Lascaux

The Stags at Lascaux France, are Reproduced for Houston Exhibit

I recently visited the Houston Museum of Natural Science to see the Lascaux cave paintings exhibit ( http://www.hmns.org/index.php?option=com_content&id=651&Itemid=683).  The exhibit remains in Houston until March 23, 2014, so get your tickets online now and plan a trip!

People like these lived near Lascaux 18,000 years ago.

People like these lived near Lascaux, France, 18,000 years ago.

Discovered in 1940 in the limestone cliffs of France, the underground caves at Lascaux are the site of beautiful realistic art showing ancient oxen, horses, stags, and other animals in a rich polychrome tapestry, about 15 meters underground. The paintings were made approximately 18,000 years ago by the Magdalenian people.

About a million people toured the caves from 1940-1963, causing great deterioration of the paintings from the carbon dioxide in visitors’ breath. The caves were then closed while an exact replica was built nearby. It took over 11 years to reproduce the paintings with painstaking accuracy. Craftsmen reproduced every bump and rough spot on the surface of the cave walls before Monique Peytral recreated the paintings, using a variety of methods.  The replica is known as Lascaux 2 and is a major attraction today.

Room of the Bulls at Lascaux

Room of the Bulls at Lascaux

The exhibit in Houston features a fascinating 3D virtual tour of the caves, scale models, and exact replicas of five major panels in the caves.  Various short videos and other materials enhance visitor knowledge.

Tickets cost $20-25.00, can be purchased online, and are timed so that crowds are not too large.  It takes about two hours to see the complete exhibit, reading everything, etc. It’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to Lascaux. I was thoroughly fascinated by the exhibit, and I hope you get a chance to go if you are in the Houston area.