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SHUMLA eNewsletter
Shumla School

July, 2010

July 1, 2010
Volume 2, No. 7

Sr. Jesus "Chuy" Ramon Valdes, a Federal Senator representing the Mexican Border State of Coahuila, and a party of guests from Mexico representing  the Fondo Mexicano para la Conservacion de la Naturaleza (Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature) were welcomed to the SHUMLA campus in late June, 2010.  SHUMLA partners Amistad National Recreation Area, National Park Service (NPS), and Seminole Canyon State Historical Park, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) joined with SHUMLA to host the Senator and his guests. 

Dr. Carolyn Boyd gave an illustrated presentation summarizing the education and research activities being carried out by SHUMLA in association with our partners.  The Niños del Rio Bravo education program SHUMLA conducted in association with the Universidad Technologico de Acuña in Cd. Acuña in 2008 was highlighted, as were the recent findings of the cutting edge research being carried out by SHUMLA staff.

Following the presentation on the SHUMLA campus, the group motored the short distance to the Pecos River and boarded two NPS vessels on Lake Amistad.  Traveling on the lake to Panther Cave (41VV83) which is owned by both Texas State and National Parks,  Dr. Boyd gave a personal tour of the rock art in this spectacular site, and pointed out ongoing damage to the paintings caused by the construction of mud daubers' nests.  On the return trip, a stop was made at Parida Cave (41VV187) privately owned but under the stewardship of the National Park Service, to view the rock art and extensive human occupational debris in that large rockshelter.  After returning to the Pecos River boat docks, the group motored to Comstock to visit the SHUMLA research offices where continued discussions of common interests in open-border education and research were very productive. 

SHUMLA and our partners look forward to continued  relationships with educators and researchers from Mexico and to working with Senator Ramon and his colleagues to further our common interests, including nomination of the rock art on both sides of the border as an international district designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Participants in the distinguished multi national group  included: 

Senator Jesus "Chuy" Ramon, Federal Senator representing Coahuila.

Mexico Senator Jesus Maria "Chuy" Ramon inquired about the purpose of depressions worn in flat surfaces on limestone outcrops and boulders.  These "mortar holes" are frequently found throughout the Lower Pecos Cultural Region.  Here, in Panther Cave, Dr. Carolyn Boyd demonstrates how they might have been used to pulverize seeds and other plant and mineral materials. Listening to Boyd's explanation are (left to right) Italian photographer and National Geographic Magazine contributor Fulvio Eccardi, Senator Ramon, Berry Kennedy, with the Fondo Mexicano Para la Conservacion de la Naturaleza (Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature, FMCN) Lorenzo Rosenzweig, FMCN President and Dr. Boyd.
   SHUMLA photograph by Bill Sontag

Lorenzo Rosenzweig, President of the Fondo Mexicano para la Conservacion de la Naturaleza (Mexican Fund for
the Conservation of Nature or FMCN)

Fulvio Eccardi, an Italian photographer and biologist who has focused the world's attention on ecological issues through documenting the complex relationship between humans and the environment

Dr. Richard Cudney, principal investigator for the College of Natural Resources, University of Arizona and senior fellow with the Environmental Leadership Program.

Also joining the distinguished group of visitors was Gael, Almeida, Antonio De Valle, Maya De Valle, Eglé Flores,  Berry Kennedy, and Hugo Montemayor.

Dr. Carolyn Boyd, Executive Director of SHUMLA  and Texas archeologist Elton Prewitt led the group hosting our multi-national guests which included

Randy Rosales and David Rice, Texas Parks and Wildlife
Jack Johnson, National Park Service,
Bill Sontag, Del Rio Journalist,
Angel Johnson and Jennifer Ramage, SHUMLA staff

Story by Elton Prewitt, Jennifer Ramage and Bill Sontag


Participants in the Field Methods in Rock Art field school researched, documented and recorded rock art at Black Cave 41VV 76.
Photo by Elton Prewitt

The 2010 Field Methods in Rock Art field school at SHUMLA attracted nine students from around the United States including:
Bridget Alex, Harvard University, New Haven, Connecticut

Jaime Chambers, Truman College, Chicago, Illinois

Morgan Dumeny, Lyon College, Arkansas

Reina Victoria Garcia, Baylor University, Texas

Will Hunt, Middlebury College, Vermont

Tori Jorgenson, Texas State University, Texas

Amanda Martinez, Baylor University, Texas

Brandon Richardson, Baylor University, Texas

Bryan Wasetis, Texas State University, Texas

Field recording methods have been significantly improved since the 2009 field school, allowing students to more accurately photograph, draw, describe, and make comments upon individual elements of rock art panels.


The addition of a camera with D-Stretch capabilities (Thank you, Robert Mark and Jim Harman allowed the students to photograph seemingly inscrutable small blobs of pigment in the field to determine if they indeed were real painted elements or if they were simply smudges of paint.  In other words, the beauty of the D-Stretch is that it allows the user - in this case, the students, to immediately view pictographic images in the field using the digital manipulation of different color channels to see whether images are present that are not identifiable with the naked eye.

To everyone's amazement, the students found there are almost as many tiny linear elements as are found at the "Red Linear" type site (41VV201) about a mile downstream in Presa Canyon.  Black Cave is now known to be a major site for both styles of painting, and that researchers need to re-evaluate the name "Red Linear Style" because it occurs not only as red, but as black, yellow, and orange as well.  The beauty of the D-Stretch camera is that it allows the user – in this case, the students – to view pictograph images in the field using different color spectra to see whether images are present that are not identifiable with the naked eye.

The students did a marvelous job, and all had a great time learning from Dr. Carolyn Boyd, Elton Prewitt, and the SHUMLA staff.  Getting to see water flowing through Presa Canyon in front of Black Cave rockshelter was a bonus no one expected.  Waterfalls tumbling over the lips of drop-offs into the canyons were sights that students and staff will not soon forget!  Of course, the vision of Snowflake, the white llama, guarding the herd of goats roaming the pasture through which they travelled daily, provided almost as much of a different perspective on the Lower Pecos Canyonlands as did the fabulous rock art experience!

Story by Elton Prewitt

Texas State University Field School in Archeological Methods

Dr. Steve Black of Texas State University in San Marcos is holding an inaugural field school at SHUMLA during the first summer semester this year.  His plan to examine upland settings for evidence of prehistoric use is in stark contrast to earlier investigations from the early 1930s through the rest of the 20th century that were mainly concentrated on rockshelters and deeply stratified terrace sites.  The twelve students in this class are mostly from Texas State University, and their learning activities are directed toward two key aspects of field research:  excavations and site survey.

Excavations are concentrated on a presumed prehistoric set of wikiup rings on a bedrock bench overlooking an unnamed small tributary canyon to the Pecos River located about a half mile from campus.  Digital stereo overhead photography using a kite was demonstrated by Mark Willis prior to beginning excavations, and students were introduced to use of total station precision survey instruments as part of their training.  In addition to documenting rocks comprising structural components of wikiups, various stone tools and chipping debris are either plotted in place or retrieved from sieves.  Several Perdiz type arrow points were recovered within and around the wikiup rings, as were various unifacial and bifacial tools.

Site survey on the Shumla Ranch includes both upland and canyon settings, so students have the opportunity to find and record small rockshelters in addition to upland hearths, earth ovens, wikiup rings, and other types of features.

Students at the Texas State University Field School excavating a unit in a presumed set of prehistoric wikiup rings. This site is located on a bedrock bench overlooking a canyon on the Pecos River near the SHUMLA campus.
Photo by Elton Prewitt

They learn not only how to fill out initial site data forms, but basic GPS procedures and site photography.  In addition, they are involved in conducting portable overhead stereoscopic digital photography using a system developed by one of the Teaching Assistants, John Campbell.  But, perhaps the most challenging task is learning how to discover small sites that generally have been overlooked by previous researchers.

This diverse group of students is producing original data that show that the uplands were, indeed, not only utilized in prehistory, but, they are documenting the extent of human use far beyond the scope of earlier investigations.  This is a substantive contribution to the knowledge of landscape use in the Lower Pecos Canyonlands.

Story by Elton Prewitt


October 10 - 15, 2010, SHUMLA will present its weeklong PECOS EXPERIENCE.

PECOS EXPERIENCE is an adult adventure program held each year at the SHUMLA campus west of Del Rio, Texas.  This rugged, semi-desert landscape between the Pecos River and the Rio Grande  is incised by deep canyons which house over 250 ancient rock art sites, some dating to over 4,000 years ago.  Participants in the PECOS EXPERIENCE  will enjoy unequaled access to several of these sites plus the opportunity for nightly lectures and discussions between Dr. Carolyn Boyd, Executive Director of SHUMLA and author of Rock Art of the Lower Pecos, and Elton Prewitt, renowned Texas archeologist and long-time researcher in the area. This year’s visiting international scholar is Peter Robinson, editor and project controller of the Bradshaw Foundation  an online learning resource with its main areas of focus being archeology, anthropology and genetic research.  (See for more information about the Bradshaw Foundation.)

Participants in PECOS EXPERIENCE will also have hands-on learning opportunities in primitive technologies used by hunter-gatherer cultures including paint making, fire starting, earth-oven construction and use, and atlatl spear throwing.  
This year's attendees will also benefit from new, groundbreaking research in the rock art of the Lower Pecos Canyonlands conducted by Dr. Boyd and SHUMLA research board member Kim Cox.   This research will appear in a monograph to be published later this year but will be shared early with PECOS EXPERIENCE  2010 participants.

Dr. Carolyn Boyd and Texas archeologist Elton Prewitt will be on hand at 2010 Pecos Experience to share groundbreaking new findings in the rock art panel at  White Shaman including a tour of the site.
Photo by Linda Gorski

To assure quality time with the experts, SHUMLA limits the number of participants to a small intimate group.   Participants stay at the SHUMLA campus for the week.  All meals and  lodging, plus transportation and fees to rock art sites are provided.   The program is expected to fill quickly so early registration is recommended.

Fees for the program are $1750 for single occupancy and $1500 for double occupancy.  If you attended a previous PECOS EXPERIENCE you can register at the 2009 rates of Single Occupancy $1500 and Double occupancy $1350.  A deposit of $500 is required to reserve your space with the balance due by August 31, 2010. 

For more information about the PECOS EXPERIENCE see SHUMLA’s website at  To register for PECOS EXPERIENCE contact 432-292-4848 or E-mail


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