Two acts of vandalism happened to rock art near Moab last week. Birthing Rock before the vandalism, Image by Alan Cressler Near Moab a climber intentionally bolted through a rock art panel. This has been widely reported on social media and in the outdoor recreation world. The climb is called the Sunshine Slabs. The bolts were removed by other climbers, but the holes that remain and will hasten erosion of the rock art panel. The offender’s defense was that he was trying to make the very easier (5.3) climb even more accessible. It is important to note that even though this happened on public land, it is illegal make permanent changes to the public land without permits. It’s the same as mining for gold or building a road without permits, its illegal. The culprit is known and is presumably being dealt with by the BLM who manages the site. Read...
The Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia is reporting that the Track Rock Gap rock art site has been vandalized (USA Today). Track Rock Gap is one of 3 heavily engraved soapstone petroglyph sites in the mountains of Georgia and North Carolina. The sites are tied to the Cherokee and Creek nations. The best known of these soapstone sites is Judaculla Rock, seen here as a 3D model. https://sketchfab.com/models/ebfc3ec3eb3947ea92a7abb2d13060cb/embed Judaculla Rock, Jackson County, North Carolina by Ancient Art Archive on Sketchfab All pre contact story written on the landscape are irreplacable. Vandalism at Track Rock Gap is deeply sad. Rescources: Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest Track Rock Gap page Judaculla Rock, NC Alan Cressler's photos of Track Rock Gap
The 36,000 year old Horse Panel of Chauvet This week, New York Times arts critic Martha Schwendener called the Ancient Art Archive one of the 5 instagram accounts that you should follow right now. “…the Ancient Art Archive journeys to caves, mesas, buttes and other sites around the world, documenting the paintings and marks made by our ancient ancestors.” She called out two of our posts in particular, one from Chauvet Cave in France and another from the Maze Panel in Arizona. The Maze Panel in the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument. It is an honor to be featured in the Times. The explosive growth of our Instagram feed shows what we have long known, people are hungry for these images from the past.
An article published today in the Journal Nature Human Behavior (here subscription requited) establishes the date of some of the Kimberly rock art paintings as 17,000 years ago. Rock art is notoriously hard to date. The authors of the study took radio carbon dates from wasp nests built on top of paintings to establish minimum dates. One painting in particular is dated to between 17,500 and 17,100 years ago by dating material in overlying and underlying nests. CNN provides and excelent synopsis here.
There was big news from Indonesian earlier this month. A multinational team has identified the oldest known figurative paintings in the world on the island of Sulawesi. The new dates 44,000 years BP are in line -yet older- than other dates from Sulawesi and Borneo. In their paper in Nature Maxime Aubert has identified not just animals but therianthropes “abstract beings that combine the qualities of both people and animals.” (there is an excellent discussion of the article in Smithsonian) Six humanoid figures with animal features surround an anoa, a small type of buffalo, in a 44,000-year-old Indonesian cave mural. (Ratno Sardi) Therianthropes are incredibly rare in paleolithic cave art. The most famous example is the transforming bison from Chauvet made famous by Cave of Forgotten Dreams and there is a lesser-known anthropomorphic figure from Tito Bustillo in Spain. A therianthrope figure in Tito Bustillo cave, Spain. Aubert’s find further confirms...
Master platinum-palladium printer and Guggenheim Grant winner Pradip Malde produced an exquisite, limited-edition print to support the Ancient Art Archive. Pradip and I chose a photograph of the Head of Sinbad rock art site on the San Rafael Swell in Central Utah for this print. The paintings are Barrier Canyon Style and thought to be between 2,000 and 4,000 years old. I shot the image this spring with Pradip’s printing in mind. Platinum print by Pradip Malde, image by Stephen Alvarez image size approximately 9" x 14"
Buckhorn Wash Pictograph Panel on the San Rafael Swell Those of you who have been following the Ancient Art Archive's work are familiar with our efforts to document Barrier Canyon Style (BCS) artworks. BCS is one of North America's most enigmatic and evocative styles. It is known, primarily from the San Rafael Swell of Central Utah. In general conservation news has been bad in Utah for the past few years. Both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monuments were significantly reduced. However, last month a mammoth public lands bill passed both the House and Senate that will increase protections on many National Lands. Among many other things the bill adds 660,000 acres of wilderness designation to Emery County Utah, home of much of the San Rafael Swell. You can read more here. The Rochester Rock Art Panel in Emery County Utah