In 1879 when a group of Mormon pioneers began the now famous Hole-in-the-Rock expedition, the San Juan region of southeastern Utah was one of the most isolated parts of the United States. The rough and broken country is characterized by sheer walled cliffs, mesas, hills, washes, slickrock, cedar forests, and sand. Certainly the ruggedness of the country accounts for its colonization coming so late in the Mormon settlement effort. The Mormon hierarchy's need to improve relations with the Indians, ensure Mormon control of the area, open new farmlands for cultivation, and build a springboard for future colonies to the east, south, and north provided the impetus behind church president John Taylor's "call" for colonizing mission to the San Juan.
Those who answered his plea demonstrated remarkable faith, courage, and devotion to the Mormon cause and persevered even when confronted with the challenges of southeastern Utah's physical environment. They cut a wagon passage through two hundred miles of that inhospitable corner of the state and ultimately succeeded in establishing permanent communities in its remote expanses.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Fremont Indian petroglyphs run along the sandstone canyon walls at this site, which happens to be on privately-owned land. However, it's publicly-accessible. These are beautiful petroglyphs of large, elaborately-decorated human figures.
Some figures appear to be wearing necklaces and earrings. Some have circles for mouths, preserved with a permament expression of surprise. And some appear to be carrying heads with broken lines streaming from the head's eyes.
The bright afternoon sun makes it a bit difficult to see this rock art. There's no background of dark desert varnish that would make the McConkie Ranch rock art stand out
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Zdzisław Beksiński was born in Sanok, Poland on February 24, 1929. He worked as a construction site supervisor before studying architecture in Kraków. He returned to Sanok in 1955. Around this time he became interested in photomontage, sculpture and painting. Even at this early stage his work featured powerful and disturbing imagery that would remain a consistent theme throughout his life.
Beksiński has often been described as humorous, highly intelligent and an exceptionally intellectual man by those who knew him. He produced his drawings and paintings in two styles: "Baroque" or "Gothic". In the 1990's Zdzisław's life became increasingly difficult and painful. After a long illness with cancer, his beloved wife died in 1998. One year after this, on Christmas Eve, his son Tomasz committed suicide. Beksiński is the one that found his son's body; an event he never fully recovered from. In February 2005, three days before his 76th birthday, Zdzisław was murdered in his flat by the teenage son of his caretaker, and another youth. He was stabbed 17 times for refusing to give the kid a small loan.
Late one afternoon in May 1539, the world of the Pueblo Indians changed forever when Estebanico - a Black slave from Morocco - and his 300 retinue of Mexican Indians marched into the Zuni city of Hawikuh. Through wild tales and exaggerations, Hawikuh would be transformed into one of the fabled Seven Golden Cities of Cities of Cibola, and a year later, Coronado and his soldiers would wreak destruction and violence on this peaceful world in search of non existent gold. Surviving Columbus is a search for the Pueblo people's view of these first encounters with European civilization, told exclusively through the voices and visions of the Pueblo Indians
Anasazi Ridge is a rock art site overlooking the Santa Clara River a few miles west of St George. Several hundred petroglyphs (no pictographs were observed) are found on sandstone cap boulders on top of a 80 meter high north to south running ridge. Exploratory excavations by Brigham Young University in 2006 have uncovered possible Anasazi pueblo walls along the top of the ridge. The petroglyphs here are found as isolated elements, in small groups, and a few larger panels along a hundred meter section of the ridge. There is little to no super imposition of images.
Many of the petroglyphs are similar to those found at other Anasazi sites and are believed to have been made during Anasazi times. The images are found on the sides of boulders as well as across the boulder tops where the outer layers of sandstone are eroding away. Common elements include spirals, anthropomorphs, footprints- human and animal, blanket designs, species nonspecific quadrupeds, and sheep- square body and rounded. There are some bisected circles, dots and squiggles that may date from Archaic times and some abstract designs that may be of later Numic origin.
Friday, March 26, 2010
In the morning, mist comes up from the sea by the cliffs beyond Kingsport. White and feathery it comes from the deep to its brothers the clouds, full of dreams of dank pastures and caves of leviathan. And later, in still summer rains on the steep roofs of poets, the clouds scatter bits of those dreams, that men shall not live without rumor of old strange secrets, and wonders that planets tell planets alone in the night. When tales fly thick in the grottoes of tritons, and conchs in seaweed cities blow wild tunes learned from the Elder Ones, then great eager mists flock to heaven laden with lore, and oceanward eyes on tile rocks see only a mystic whiteness, as if the cliff's rim were the rim of all earth, and the solemn bells of buoys tolled free in the aether of faery.......
Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle, Cornwall, England is a museum dedicated to witchcraft and has the largest collection of witchcraft and Wiccan related artefacts in the world. It is one of Cornwall's most popular museums, though it had opened initially not in Cornwall but on the Isle of Man in 1951, moving to its current location in 1960.
The museum holds a large number of artefacts, much of which once belonged to the museum's founder Cecil Williamson, including human remains, and currently also holds the Richell collection of witchcraft regalia that was loaned to the museum in 2000 from The Netherlands.
Hidden in the wild Book Cliffs of eastern Utah between the Tavaputs Plateau and the Green River's Desolation Canyon, Range Creek valley had no road access at all as late as the mid 20th century. A primitive road was built in 1947 to open up the canyon to cattle grazing. A few years later, a ranching family named Wilcox, long time residents of a nearby ranch, bought the valley to expand their cattle operation. It didn't take long for the new owners to notice the remote valley held an incredible concentration of ruins, artifacts, intact structures and other evidence that an ancient culture had long called the place home.
Until recently, Range Creek was private property. The state of Utah purchased the area and limited access is now available. Don't visit Range Creek expecting to find easily accessible or impressive large-scale ruins like in other sites. Mostly what it offers is pit villages barely noticeable to the untrained eye, pictographs, and granaries built on inaccessible cliff walls. One thing that makes Range Creek so valuable is the fact that there's no hurry to excavate before the bulldozers come through. If you visit, PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB any artifacts! Once disturbed, that area loses its ability to tell archeologists the stories of the Freemonts who lived here nearly 1,000 years ago.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
For the Yuman-speaking inhabitants of the Colorado River region, no location was more sacred than Avikwa'ame, or Spirit Mountain, which we call Newberry Peak, in southernmost Nevada. According to the Mojave creation myth, the oldest spirit was Matavilya, made from the mating of Earth and Sky. Matavilya had two sons, Mastamho and Kaatar, and a daughter, Frog. Matavilya committed an unwitting indecency that offended his daughter, who then killed them. Mastamho directed the cremation and mourning ceremony for his father and, when completed, strode up the Colorado River Valley. When he got to the top Mastamho created the river by plunging a cane of breath and spittle into the earth, allowing the river to pour forth. Riding a canoe down the waters to the ocean, he created the wide river bottom by twisting and turning the boat. He returned from the ocean with his people, the Mojave, taking them in his arms to the northern end of Mojave country. There he piled up earth, creating the mountain Avlkwa'ame, and built himself a house on it. There too Mastamho plotted the death of Sky- Rattlesnake, an evil spirit and the source of dark powers. Mastamho killed Sky-Rattlesnake by cutting off his head, with his spilt blood becoming noxious insects. Mastamho then gave land to the different tribes and taught them to farm. Finally, Mastamho turned himself into a fish-eagle and flew off into oblivion.
The importance of this cosmogenic myth to rock art is two folds. Known as the "Shaman's Tale," it was precisely this myth that the shaman "dreamed" to obtain his supernatural powers: In Yuman fashion, the shaman was believed to re-experience and witness these mythic events of creation in the supernatural world and, from them, obtain his power. As the anthropologist Alfred Kroeber wrote in 1925, "It is of [Mastamho's] house that shamans dream, for here their shadows were as little boys in the face of Mastamho, and received from him their ordained powers, confirmed by tests on the spot." It is at the foot of Spirit Mountain that the important Grapevine Canyon petroglyph. Grapevine Canyon is Atastamho's House, where the Mojave shaman went to witness, in his dreams, the creation of the world
Grapevine Canyon is the biggest petroglyph site in southern Nevada. As at other Colorado River locales, representational or figurative motifs are rare at the site; they are heavily outnumbered by entoptic designs, many of which are deeply and widely engraved. The depth and width of these engravings reflect the fact that Yuman petroglyphs were studied and examined by initiates, and sometimes repecked by them. Still, considerable variation in the degree of revarnishing is evident at the site, indicating that Yuman shamans used this locale probably for many thousands of years. Recent accounts, on the other end of the time scale, tell us that it continued to be used into this century.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
From the time he was a child, German-born photographer Claus Mroczynski was fascinated with the indigenous peoples of North America, especially the ancient inhabitants of the American Southwest. Later in his life, as an accomplished photographer, he spent more than two decades visiting the rugged deserts, caves, mesas, and mountains of the area, producing an evocative portrait of sacred places past and present.
Mroczynski's sensitivity and respect for these places earned him access to many hidden sites that few have visited; Ron Richelieu, former Executive Director of Mesa Verde National Park, described the resulting series of photographs as a "testament to the richness of an ancient culture that lives on today."
Sunday, March 21, 2010
It's that time of year again.....the canyons have been calling....once again searching for that which I hope I never ever find......
Massacres, raiding parties, ambush, pillage, scalping, captive taking: the things we know and sometimes dread to admit occur during times of war all happened in the prehistoric Southwest -- and there is ample archaeological evidence. Not only did they occur, but the history of the ancient Southwest cannot be understood without noting the intensity and impact of these manifestations.
Most people today, including many archaeologists, view the Pueblo people of the Southwest as historically peaceful, sedentary corn farmers. Our image of the Hopis and Zunis, for example, contrasts sharply with the more nomadic Apaches whose warfare and raiding abilities are legendary. In Prehistoric Warfare in the American Southwest, Steven LeBlanc demonstrates that this picture of the ancient Puebloans is highly romanticized. Taking a pan-Southwestern view of the entire prehistoric and early historic time range and considering archaeological and ethnohistorical evidence and oral traditions, he presents a different picture.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
As when some carcass, hidden in sequestered nook, draws from every near and distant point myriads of discordant vultures, so drew these little flakes of gold the voracious sons of men.
hubert howe bancroft, History of California (1884)
October was dangerously late to be crossing the Forty-Mile Desert, and Sarah Royce knew it. Only three years earlier, in 1846, October snows had doomed the Donner party in the high Sierra Nevada, and the Royces still had a long pull before reaching those mountains.
The Maze is the least accessible district of Canyonlands. It's big, wild, remote and untamed. Roads require high-clearance four-wheel-drive. There are no amenities - no food, no water, no gasoline.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
the dog that smiles through the blood.....
the burned boy sat on the hill letting the sharp wind touch his black chared skin it began to rain.....
the burned boy sat on the hill letting the sharp wind touch his black chared skin it began to rain.....
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Saturday, March 13, 2010
At the height of their power in the late eleventh century, the Chaco Anasazi dominated a territory in the American Southwest larger than any European principality of the time. A vast alliance of hamlets and towns integrated the region through economic and religious ties, and the whole system was interconnected with hundreds of miles of roads. It took these Anasazi farmers more than seven centuries to create classic Chacoan civilization, which lasted some 200 years -- only to collapse spectacularly in a mere 40.
Why did such a great society collapse? Who survived? Why? In this lively book anthropologist/archaeologist David Stuart presents answers to these questions that offer useful lessons to modern societies. His account of the rise and fall of the Chaco Anasazi brings to life the people who are known to us today as the architects of Chaco Canyon, now a spectacular national park in northwestern New Mexico.
Friday, March 12, 2010
If Salavador Dali had stumbled upon this place, he might have found fodder for another interpretation of his masterpiece “The Persistence of Memory”. Dead Vlei is a flat clay pan embraced on all sides by large red sand dunes. It is one of the landmark features of the Sossusvlei in the Namib-Naukluft park of southern Namibia.
Many centuries ago, the Tsauchab river flooded this area, pushing deep into the dunes during a heavy rain year. The remaining water collected in the pan, and provided nourishment for numerous Camel Thorn trees. As the climate changed, and drought fell upon the area, the dunes moved in and isolated the pan from the river. The trees eventually died, and as a result of the extremely arid climate, have not yet fully decomposed. Instead they have assumed a rich, dark, and almost black patina resulting from the intense heat of the sun. The estimated age of these trees is almost 1000 years old.
Dead Vlei in Namibia in Africa
From the mid-twelfth to the mid-fourteenth century, the world of the ancestral Pueblo people (Anasazi) was in transition, undergoing changes in settlement patterns and community organization that resulted in what scholars now call the Pueblo III period. This book synthesizes the archaeology of the ancestral Pueblo world during the Pueblo III period, examining twelve regions that embrace nearly the entire range of major topographic features, ecological zones, and prehistoric Puebloan settlement patterns found in the northern Southwest. Drawn from the 1990 Crow Canyon Archaeological Center conference "Pueblo Cultures in Transition," the book serves as both a data resource and a summary of ideas about prehistoric changes in Puebloan settlement and in regional interaction across nearly 150,000 square miles of the Southwest. The volume provides a compilation of settlement data for over 800 large sites occupied between A.D. 1100-1400 in the Southwest. These data provide new perspectives on the geographic scale of culture change in the Southwest during this period. Twelve chapters analyze the archaeological record for specific districts and provide a detailed picture of settlement size and distribution, community architecture, and population trends during the period. Additional chapters cover warfare and carrying capacity and provide overviews of change in the region. Throughout the chapters, the contributors address the unifying issues of the role of large sites in relation to smaller ones, changes in settlement patterns from the Pueblo II to Pueblo III periods, changes in community organization, and population dynamics. Although other books have considered various regions or the entire prehistoric area, this is the first to provide such a wealth of information on the Pueblo III period and such detailed district-by-district syntheses. By dealing with issues of population aggregation and the archaeology of large settlements, it offers readers a much-needed synthesis of one of the most crucial periods of culture change in the Southwest.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Elden Pueblo is the site of an ancient Sinagua (Sin ah’ wa) village, inhabited from about A.D. 1070 to 1275. The site is unique for a variety of reasons. Most importantly, it makes archaeology and the study of ancient peoples accessible to the public. Since 1978, professional archaeologists have supervised members of the public in excavations, archaeological research techniques and artifact analysis through a variety of public and school programs.
Conveniently located on U.S. Highway 89 north, Elden Pueblo is thought to have been part of a major trading system. This is evidenced by discoveries of trade items, such as macaw skeletons from as far south as Mexico, to shell jewelry from the California Coast. Important discoveries recently uncovered at Elden Pueblo suggest that the Sunset Crater volcano may have erupted over a much longer period of time than previously thought.
Case Study 2: Elden Pueblo, Flagstaff, Arizona
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
In the 1970's when the first American satellite photos were taken of this vessel as it sat inland it was believed that it was a normal Jumbo jet sized aircraft under construction, and when the vessel was later photographed sitting in water the questions started to fly "what is it ? "
Eleven archeological sites, occupied during the time period A.D. 500-1100, were located within the boundaries of White Tank Mountain Regional Park. All of these sites can be attributed to the Hohokam Indians. The White Tanks were apparently abandoned by the Hohokam about A.D. 1100.
There is no further indication of human occupation until the historic period, when the Western Yavapai controlled the area. Due to the ruggedness of the terrain and the difficulty of obtaining water, sites in the White Tank Mountains were restricted to large canyons leading out of the mountains on the east, north and probably west.
White Tank Mtns:Ancient Petroglyphs
Overlooking the Puerco River, the pueblo was occupied 600 to 800 years ago by Ancestral Puebloan People. Features include partially stabilized walls of several room types and a number of petroglyph panels. One of the latter appears to have been a solar calendar. The sun follows different paths throughout the year. This petroglyph marks the summer solstice. During the morning, a shaft of sunlight travels down the side to penetrate the centre of a small spiral.
Puerco Pueblo stood one-story high, with 2 to 3 rows of connected rooms of approximately 100 rooms surrounding a central plaza. Within the plaza were several rectangular ceremonial roooms called kivas. The village was a lively center even after the abandonment of larger Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon pueblos to the northeast. It was inhabited from about A.D. 1250 to the late 1300s, and housed a number of families. The nearby river provided the water that nourished plant and animal life necessary for this pueblo community.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Peoples of both the Anasazi and Fremont cultures were residents in the area at the time these structures were built. Which of these cultures actually built these structures is unknown, but may be revealed through further archeological research.
Pictographs can be seen located near the bottom of the eastern wall of Calf Creek canyon. The four large figures are painted in red and are typical of Fremont style and form. The pictographs date to 1000 A.D. or earlier and could represent deities, cultural heros, or they may depict a ceremony or event.
The Fremont culture used these as granaries sometime between 1050 to 1200 A.D. The Fremont were a hunting and gathering soiety who supplemented that way of life by growing corn, beans, and squash.
The Fremont culture
The greatest "unsolved mystery" of the American Southwest is the fate of the Anasazi, the native peoples who in the eleventh century converged on Chaco Canyon (in today's southwestern New Mexico) and built what has been called the Las Vegas of its day, a flourishing cultural center that attracted pilgrims from far and wide, a vital crossroads of the prehistoric world. The Anasazis' accomplishments - in agriculture, in art, in commerce, in architecture, and in engineering - were astounding, rivaling those of the Mayans in distant Central America. By the thirteenth century, however, the Anasazi were gone from Chaco. Vanished. What was it that brought about the rapid collapse of their civilization? Was it drought? pestilence? war? forced migration? mass murder or suicide? For many years conflicting theories have abounded. Craig Childs draws on the latest scholarly research, as well as on a lifetime of adventure and exploration in the most forbidding landscapes of the American Southwest, to shed new light on this compelling mystery. He takes us to the places where the Anasazi lived:
Pueblo Pintado [Spanish for "Painted Town"] is a large Chacoan great house located about three miles east of the head of Chaco Canyon and about sixteen miles east of Pueblo Bonito. Built on the summit of a rounded ridge, the site is visible for miles from most directions and was the first great house encountered by all of the early expeditions that approached Chaco Canyon from the east. It is sometimes called a Chacoan outlier but is actually within the Chaco Core.
Pueblo Pintado is L-shaped with a central room block and a west wing, but no east wing. The arc of rooms that encloses the plaza on the south continues to the east, thereby creating an east "side" to the structure. It covers less ground area than most canyon great houses but has slightly more rooms (135 total) than Pueblo Alto. The pueblo rose to three stories, and possibly four. Unlike most great houses, the plaza contains a large mound that probably represents the remains of a room block. A later Navajo corral was built southeast of the structure in the vicinity of a large trash mound.
Construction appears to have started at Pueblo Pintado in the 1060s and probably continued through the late 1000s. The site has not been excavated, and few tree-ring dates have been collected. A community of more than thirty small house sites encircles the great house. At least one Chacoan Road is present, the East or Pintado-Chaco Road, which begins near the southwest corner of the great house and runs west to the head of Chaco Canyon.