Heritage, Volume 5, Number 1, Spring 1987 Page: 36
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The Vanishing Rock Art of Texas
by Solveig A. Turpin
i:7 H thousands of years, the originear
the mouths of the Pecos and Devils
F U^^^^^ ~rivers. There they drew their visions,
their mythology, their chronicles of
of thl _events, and the portraits of their people
rockshelter homes. Five distinct picReservoir
Todayalotographic styles have been defined. Each
reflects a different world view and e was
perhaps produced for different reasons,
but all were the product of huntergatherer
peoples at a very elemental technological
and social level. Although
i_ = l. ~~some of these artworks have survived
more than three millennia, our generation
may be the last to see them. Longtime
residents unanimously agree that the
once-vivid colors are fading and that
many pictographs have been lost in their
lifetimes. Natural rock decay, accelerated
by exposure to sun, wind and water, catahstrophic
forces of nature, vandalism, and
gthe pressures of an industrialized economy
all have taken their toll. Nowhere is
this more apparent than in the historic
pictographs, those painted by the Apache
and Comanche Indians within the last
few hundred years. The demise of two
1 , manysites, Painted Caves, or Castle Canyon,
and Missionary Shelter, now known only
liftimes.from past records, illustrates the anonymous
fate of perhaps hundreds of pictograph
sites in the region.
_~~~~~~~ pic~~~~~~~~~Both of these sites present subjects foreign
to the native American before contact
with the European-Christianity
and domesticated livestock. The tribal affiliation
of the artist is difficult to determine.
After their initial forays in the late
""0X^;i~~~ A_ 0 00tf 0000 ~~~sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the
Spanish rarely penetrated this area of the
desert West, which they called the desmufthe
Cibolas inhabited the valley of the
middle Rio Grande until the indigenous
people were decimated by the influx of
of the Pecos River entering the Rio Grande before the flooding of the Aregion befor the oPlains Indians in the late seventeenth
Amistad Reservoir. Today all of the pictograph sites have been inundated by water. Few and early eighteenth centuries. Displaced
he Pecos River Canyon, many having been completely obliterated in the flood of 1954. from the plains, the refugee and renegade
horse nomads retreated into the rugged
remain on tl
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 5, Number 1, Spring 1987, periodical, Spring 1987; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45438/m1/36/: accessed October 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.