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Cutting-edge Technology Leads to Discovery
Shumla Archaeological Research & Education Center

January, 2016

Cutting-edge Technology Leads to Discovery

A Note from the Director

Happy 2016, Shumla friends! 
 
Raise your hand (virtually) if you are still writing "2015" and then awkwardly changing the 5 to a 6. I am... Change is hard, but the New Year is an opportunity to take stock, re-focus and start anew. 
 
This is certainly true at Shumla. January has been a busy month of strategic planning and gearing up for a very eventful year. 2016 at Shumla will see new partnerships, exciting discoveries, a ground-breaking book, and much more... 
 
I will make sure to keep you informed as this incredible year unfolds through our Facebook page and this, our monthly eNews. Scroll down and check out our new look. It is designed to be "friendlier" on all the various mobile devices. If you read the eNews on your phone, you can turn it on its side to increase the font size. I'd be happy for your feedback on this new format.
 
Thank you for your interest in Shumla and your support of our important work - preserving the oldest "books" in North America. 
Shumla and The Witte Museum to Collaborate on the 
People of the Pecos Exhibit, Opening in 2017. 
We are very excited to announce that Shumla is partnering with The Witte Museum to develop images and content for an interactive rock art exhibit featured in the People of the Pecos hall that will be unlike any other. 
 
We won't give too much away right now, but we can't wait to show you! We'll keep you posted on our progress. In the meantime, here's a snapshot of some of the master plans for the New Witte exhibits, including People of the Pecos.
Cutting-edge Technology Leads to an Amazing Discovery

Everyone knows that painters apply paint in a sequence. An artist, for example, may lay down the flesh color of a face, then the colors that make up an eye, then shadows and highlights that give the eye dimension. Even Pollock splashed one color first, then another, and then another. As a result, the paint applied first is under the subsequent paint layers on the canvas. This sequence can be determined by placing a painting under a microscope. However, since rock art can't be moved and placed under a microscope, it has been very difficult to determine with the naked eye the paint sequence of ancient murals. 
 
The Dino-Lite digital microscope changed all that. Now we can take a microscope into the field and see the paint at such high resolution that we can determine which colors were applied first, second, third and so on - in other words, we can determine the stratigraphy of the paint application. 
 
We could not have known just how game-changing this information would be. At White Shaman, we applied this technique to the entire mural. Rather than painting the mural figure by figure, we found, to our surprise, that the ancient painters laid down all the black paint first, then the red, then yellow, and finally the white.
 
 
This means that the entire mural:
Would have started out like this:
 
Now, let's think about this. Take, for example, the red antlers with black dots at the end of the antler tines on the figure below. 
How would you draw this? Would you use red to draw the head and antlers and then add black dots to the end of the antler tines? Seems logical...

But that's not what the stratigraphy shows. They painted the black dots first! And then painted the red antler tines to meet the black dots. 
 
To be able to paint a mural panel with so many attributes and alignments one color at a time and to reach a cohesive final product would have required a great deal of planning and a high level of skill. Shumla's discovery proved that the mural was not only painted at one time (rather than in spurts over hundreds or thousands of years by many artists) but that it was a composition that was entirely planned and purposeful. 
 
Naturally, we wondered if this was unique to the White Shaman panel or if we would find a similar stratigraphic pattern at other sites. We have begun testing paint stratigraphy at three other sites with our Dino-lite (Cedar Springs, Halo and Black Cave) and, so far, we have found that the pattern holds! 
 
Black dots under red antler tines at Cedar Springs
Microscopic image of red over black at Cedar Springs
Black dots under red antler tines at Halo
Using the Dino-Lite at Halo
Microscopic image showing red over black at Halo Shelter
 
We'll keep you posted as we continue to test this hypothesis. One thing is for certain... the ancient artists weren't painting on a whim. They were highly intelligent people, capable of sophisticated planning, with a complex and cohesive story to tell. A story we are learning to read!
Shumla Scholars Learn to Use Ground-Penetrating Radar...in their Pajamas!

Click the link below to read about how Tiffany Osburn of the Texas Historical Commission helped the Shumla Scholars look for unmarked graves in the Comstock Cemetery (and why they're wearing PJs.)

Shumla Welcomes Scientists from Universities in Australia and Nebraska

Click below to read about our illustrious visitors Dr. Karl Reinhard and Dr. Isabel Teixeira-Santos from the University of Nebraska and Dr. Jo McDonald and Dr. Peter Veth from the University of Western Australia.
 
 
Taking Data Entry to a Whole New Level

We welcome Courtney Croft who is temporarily joining the Shumla team while her husband is working with the NPS at Amistad. She will focus on database input and management - a task that may sound mundane but is vitally important to our work at Shumla. 
 
"I am very excited to learn more about the Archaeology in the Lower Pecos region and Shumla's amazing techniques of documentation and preservation of the precious rock art in this area. The combination of Art and Archaeology that Shumla provides will be an exciting new experience for me, and I am honored to be a part of the team for the next few months!"
Live in the Del Rio Area? 
Check out the new Del Rio Grande. 

Guess who's on the cover of the inaugural issue? Shumla's own, Carolyn Boyd! 
 
Del Rio Grande will be included in the Del Rio News Herald quarterly. It is the first lifestyles magazine published by the Del Rio News Herald. It features completely local content and original stories and art. 
 
Shumla is proud to be part of the launch this publication! 
Shumla Archaeological Research & Education Center 
PO Box 627 / 148 Sanderson / Comstock, TX 78837 USA
enews@shumla.org    432-292-4848      www.shumla.org 


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