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Field Methods in Rock Art Scholarships available
Press Release

February, 2009

Texas State University’s Field Methods in Rock Art will be taught at SHUMLA May 11-29, 2009. This three-week course is the only university-level rock art field methods course taught in the United States.

Field methods are the underpinning of the science of archeology. Rock art has posed a unique challenge to the field archeologist because, unlike other artifacts, it cannot be excavated, labeled, bagged, and transported back to the lab for analysis. This course will examine rock art as an integral component of the archeological record. Students will be trained in field methods to record rock art and will gain first-hand experience recording rock art sites through photography, field sketches, mapping, and written inventories. These field methods are designed to generate a visual and written description of the art, which can be used to infer and explain past human behavior.

Shumla instructors, Dr. Carolyn Boyd and Elton Prewitt, will train undergraduate and graduate students in the archeology of the Lower Pecos, rock art recording and data analysis, field research design, interpretive methods and theories, field laboratory procedures, and mapping.

Lectures will expose students to methods of interpretation and analysis and to the theoretical underpinnings of cognitive archeology. Lectures will be provided by the course instructors and by archeologists and anthropologists specializing in the archeology of the Lower Pecos, hunting and gathering lifeways, expressive culture, and foraging adaptations.


The course will be taught on the SHUMLA campus and at archeological sites in the region. Since this is a field methods course, the majority of class time will be spent on-site recording rock art sites. Weather and site access will dictate, to some degree, the daily schedule.

•Students will learn how to establish a field research design and field data collection protocols.

•Students will learn field methods for recording rock art, including slide and digital photography, mapping, sketching, and written inventories.

•Students will learn laboratory procedures, record keeping, cataloguing, and records curation for rock art data.

•Students will be able to analyze rock art data in order to formulate and test hypotheses.

•Students will compare and contrast current theories regarding the meaning and function of the Lower Pecos rock art.

•Students will become familiar with the foraging adaptation, hunter-gatherer belief systems, and the archeology of the Lower Pecos region.

•Students will  prepare a detailed field journal for future reference and research ideas.



Our field school has resulted in the detailed documentation of 12 rockshelters, almost 250 anthropomorphs, 750 pictographic elements, and produced more than 1500 site photographs. The course is also critical to the training of future rock art researchers. As a direct result, two master’s theses are now underway, as well as one master’s level research project.


SHUMLA School, Inc. is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to connect people of all ages with the land and their cultural heritage. The SHUMLA campus is a living museum 50 miles west of Del Rio in Val Verde County that offers people of all ages and backgrounds an experience of enrichment and discovery in one of the most spectacular landscapes in Texas. This experiential educational center is situated along the Pecos River on 1600 acres of land provided by a local ranching family. Programs conducted at the School focus upon the cultural and ecological resources present in this archeological heartland of Texas.

In the region surrounding SHUMLA there are hundreds of rock shelter sites, most of which contain archeological deposits and many of which contain elaborately painted murals that date back to over four thousand years ago. No other region in the Americas is known to contain so many well-preserved hunter-gatherer sites in such a small area. The broad expanse of undeveloped land surrounding the school makes this site well suited for instruction and innovative studies in archeology, ecology, natural history, prehistoric lifeways, and expressive culture.

For further information regarding the program, visit the 2009 “Field School Registration Information” link at, or email with any additional questions you may have. You may also reach Angel Johnson at the office at 432-292-4848.



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