Heritage, Volume 7, Number 4, Fall 1989 Page: 10
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them according to the pigment mixtures
and the motifs and sites they matched.
At the end of seven hectic days, four
rock art sites had been recorded by this
tiered method. A fifth site, 41VV209, had
been mapped and photographed. The site
presented complications for scaled drawings
because the prehistoric artists had
heavily painted and overpainted the rockshelter.
All this art faded in the intervening
centuries, and each individual painting
was difficult to pick out from the mass of
The TAS field school survey found one
previously unknown rock art site,
41VV 1088. It is a single panel with a single
motif painted on the ceiling of a small cave
high on a canyon wall. The painting, believed
to date to the historic period, is an
oval or shield figure surrounded by two
wavy lines and containing twenty-seven
crescent shapes. A spall inside the figure
may have removed as many as three more
crescents. The number of crescents is close
to the number of days in the lunar cycle.
While the crescents could be mere abstractions
or representations of many things,
including conventionalized hoofprints,
they could also be crescent moons. If this is
so, the 41VV1088 site shows the participation
of aboriginal art in thinking about and
depicting the cycles of the solar system.
The 41VV921 site is a long, extended
rockshelter under a cliff and at the top of a
10 HERITAGE * FALL 1989
rugged, brush-covered scree slope. This
ruggedness kept the site hidden until recent
years. Unfortunately, the site was
formed in the variety of limestone rock
that flakes off, or spalls, quickly under the
natural forces of wind, rain, and cold
weather. Approximately 90% of the original
art had been lost before its discovery,
which gave a greater urgency to fully record
the surviving art.
The art in the 41VV888 site has motifs
of the Pecos River and Red Linear styles
and is exemplary of the major prehistoric
art styles in the region. Art from the two
styles show that the rock shelter was
painted sporadically over a span of at least
1,500 years. Pecos River style shamans and
abstract motifs are spread around the
curved wall. Two separate Red Linear
panels are dim and spalled almost to invisibility.
Both were hunting scenes, showing
animals being driven toward net-like structures
or stylized corral traps. One scene
incorporates a line of Pecos River deer.
Instead of being typical, 41VV207 has
variations. The figures don't quite fit the
usual Pecos River shamanic motifs. The
ancient artists arranged squat, nearly abstract
human-like figures nicknamed
"doughboys" standing in lines with linked
The ancient artists also interspersed the
figures with wide vertical lines and stylized
throwing darts. Another panel shows
LEFT: Rock art survey in progress at Site
ABOVE: Typical Pecos River style shaman at
Site 41VV888. Free elements flanking the figure
are probably abstract depictions of shamanic
power attributes. Drawing by David Robinson.
winged or finned bodies massed togetherpossibly
birds or fish. Finally, the remains
of a large red cougar look down on the rock
shelter and out across the wide canyon.
The animal is a long-bodied Devils River
variant of the Pecos River style. The motif
stands at least fifteen feet above the floor of
the rockshelter and must have been
painted while clinging to narrow ledges or
on scaffolding built up to its level.
The Texas Archeological Society Field
School rock art survey was a seven-day acid
test of the tiered recording method. Days
ran fourteen to sixteen hours. The terrain
was brutally rough, as country with rock art
sites tends to be. The most remote site was
gained each day after an hour of combined
driving with four-wheel drive vehicles over
jeep trails and then hiking fully loaded
with gear across steep slopes. In the end,
the only negative critique of the method
was simply the great weight and bulk of
equipment and supplies necessary to complete
each phase of the recording.
On the positive side, the rock art survey
gained imagery easily translated into media
ranging from pen-and-ink drawings and
xerography to laserdisc imaging. This
flexibility has been put to good use:
photographs and scaled drawings of
important motifs have already been sent
for precise interpretive studies to international
scholars-who have never visited
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 7, Number 4, Fall 1989, periodical, Autumn 1989; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45433/m1/10/: accessed May 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.