Katchina Daisy

The Cedar Mesa Project

The Art of Recording Rock Art

Return to The Cedar Mesa Project Home Page.

"The only right way to get to know this country (any country), the only way, is with your body. On foot. Better yet, on hands and knees. Best of all-after scrambling to a high place-on your rump. Pick out a good spot and just sit there, not moving, for about a year. (This is my own highest ambition.) Keep your eyeballs peeled and just sit there, through the hours, through the days, through the nights, through the seasons..."
Abbey, Edward, Slickrock, Endangered Canyons of the Southwest, Sierra Club, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York 1971. P.36.

A long term project has been recording the rock art in an extensive alcove in a Cedar Mesa canyon. Due to extreme erosion, graffiti, and carelessness, many of the glyphs are difficult to see. Patience is required to examine each section of the wall, often with binoculars, to carefully discern, describe, and draw the pattern (or non-pattern) of each glyph and/or cluster of glyphs, and to record their placement on the alcove wall. Is one glyph superimposed or connected to another? Which ones are pecked, repecked, incised, or smoothed? Do some show vestiges of paint? Is there delicate and fragile plaster adhering to the wall, and is there a way to see how extensive it is? Some glyphs can only be seen in sunlight, others reveal themselves in shadow, and still others are discernible in varying light.

The task of recording requires examining and describing exactly what we see. Are there cupules (circular depressions in the rock) and what is their size and depth and placement on the alcove wall? What about the glyphs that extend behind ancient walls? Grooves, deeply worn and smooth, where are they; are they horizontal or vertical? Anthropomorphs with triangular bodies are pecked into the rock twenty feet high; was there a structural or natural floor many feet above the currant alcove level at one time? These and dozens of other questions enter our thoughts as we patiently draw each line on graph paper. There is much information in front of us, and time to ponder and speculate later. If we were to draw what we think we see rather than what we actually see, the story would be about us rather than the alcove itself. Recording requires adherence to detail as well as considerable time and patience, but the personal rewards of preservation of the record are great.

Also see the links to several Rock Art information sites in the Rock Art Links Page.

Return to Cedar Mesa home page.

URL of this page: http://bcn.boulder.co.us/environment/cacv/cacvrcrd.htm
Revised '9-Jun-2001,11:10:14'
Copyright ©1996, 1999 SCCS.