#224 SCA2014 Saturday Reflections

I started the day bright and early and was at the conference center by 8am. I headed straight into the symposium that occupy much of my morning.

Californian Rock Art: Heritage Management, Scientific Studies and Sacred Landscapes

I learned a lot about rock art during this symposium. I've never formally study rock art types and documentation standards, but, I have recorded it on CRM projects. We just did basic information recording and left the hard work up to future researchers that happen to find our site within the 9000 page report that was generated. Good luck. Yay gray literature.

An image I took in 2007 at PNM. I reversed the images and played with the levels to get the petroglyphs to pop out. It's no DStretch, but, it worked.

The first paper was about a monitoring protocol for Petroglyph National Monument (PNM) near Albuquerque, New Mexico. My wife and I visited there while working on a project between Grants, NM and Chaco Canyon.

PNM is an amazing place. Just following the paths the NPS has laid out will take you past thousands of rock art panels. Some seem to be off by themselves and others are in dense groups. The proximity of the monument to civilization is it's greatest detriment. The monitoring protocol, developed by Aileen Dear, is intended to document and monitor degradation and damage to the panels. It's a massive undertaking and the only sure way to ensure long term security is to educate the public.


There were a couple interesting papers about great murals. These are pictographs that are mostly animals and anthropomorphs. Murals are some of the most awe inspiring ancient art that you'll ever see. There is a heavy concentration of them on the central Baja Peninsula.

Several papers were about studying Cupules, and the relief opposite, Pecked Curvilinear Nucleates (PCN). Cupules are often, if not always, pecked into soft rock called schist in order to create a powder that, when mixed with water, makes a blue paint. They are often associated with fertility rituals and often just the powder is rubbed on the body. One of the presenters mentioned a rock on a site that was full of cupules. He told his students not to touch the rock. They didn't listen. According to the presenter there were more than a few wanted, and unwanted, pregnancies. Cupules are one of the oldest forms of rock art in the world.

Pecked curvilinear nucleated.

I skipped out on some of the rock art papers to see a paper from a friend, Sylvere, about population replacement in the Channel Islands. He was reporting on some mtDNA research that was done. Their findings showed a connection to populations in New Mexico between 1000 and 1600 years ago. Makes you wonder what people learn by coming to local, regional conferences. Maybe we should be going to conferences in neighboring regions to help build our picture of prehistoric life. I smell an entirely different blog post…

Lunch was spent with Dr. Alan Garfinkel, CA rock art specialist. Following lunch I helped him set up a viewing of his film, "Talking Stone: The Rock Art of the Cosos". I saw most of the film the first night, but, it was too noisy to hear much of it. Alan has been trying to get me to work with him on the Coso rock art down at the China Lake Navy Base. A recent contract win might help with that.

The afternoon was spent chatting with old friends, some networking, and a few interviews for the podcast. Since I didn’t have a ticket for the banquet either (see the last blog entry), I went back to the hotel and tried to wrestle the treadmill into shape. It wouldn’t go. So, I did my workout outside. I was trying to get as many steps in as possible because my FitBit was about to die and I didn’t bring the charger. You don’t realize how dire this circumstance is and there is no way I can explain it. Suffice it to say that one bad, low step, day will haunt me for the next seven days. CURSE YOU FITBIT!

After my workout I had dinner with an old friend, the man with the hat (listen to the podcast for more on that…). Now I’m finishing up the evening with a blog post and I’ll do some podcast editing for a night cap. Exciting life.

Thanks for listening and I’ll see you in the field!