February 2021
Dear Friends,

February was a short month, but it certainly made an impression. Historic cold and nearly 12 inches of snow in Comstock? Unprecedented! I think we're all finished with things that are unprecedented...

The winter vortex made me wonder about what the Archaic people would have done with a foot of snow on the ground. I have a feeling they would have done exactly what we did. Marvel at its beauty. Wander around in it looking at animal tracks and the natural sculptures it made. Then, make some snow sculptures of their own. We know they were wildly creative.

Can you imagine what they would have sculpted with their families and children. Animals, birds, all sorts of shapes and structures. I imagine big smiles, freezing wet fingers, snow in their hair and on their clothes from snowballs. Then, like us they returned to their shelter homes, with a hot fire and hopefully a warm meal.

Perhaps I'm romanticizing. That kind of cold must have presented tough challenges. 44 degrees inside was hard for my husband and me to take last week. I have to admit I was glad for my Columbia puffer jacket. But I bet a nice rabbit skin blanket would have been just as good.

Wishing you all the best,
Take a sneak peek at what we know about the feline motif in the Lower Pecos.
You may recall from our November newsletter, we introduced you to Dr. Diana Rolon who is working as an independent contractor for Texas State University through the Department of Anthropology with Dr. Carolyn Boyd. She is using Shumla's Alexandria Project data for her postdoctoral research work on felines in the rock art of the Lower Pecos.
Animals are widely depicted across Pecos River style (PRS) art. Diana is discovering that felines are one of the most frequently depicted. She and Carolyn have created a model to classify feline iconography and to discover possible beliefs or myths communicated through the imagery.
Through a detailed description of felines and the recording of a multitude of their physical attributes, Diana has found great diversity in shapes and polychromatic representations. Patterns between the art and the cosmogonies and mythical belief systems of Mesoamerica are already starting to appear!
For example, the feline is not just a cat understood only biologically. It can represent an actor or protagonist in the creation of the world.
The feline, like other PRS imagery, was painted with intentionality to communicate meaning. Every detail, such as color, position, and directional orientation, is significant. These attributes associate the feline with water and wind, and with phenomena such as thunder and the night. It is a figure that embodies shamanic transformations. It is the personification of the celestial bodies, Venus and the Sun. It is related with the solar year marked by the solstices and demonstrates a strong connection to the idea of Nahualism – the ability of a human to transform into an animal.
Diana and Carolyn have so much more to uncover when it comes to this fascinating motif and its meaning. Stick with us and we'll keep you updated on their incredible progress!
Wow! We've never seen this much snow in Comstock!

Snow covered cacti and vast white desert was a sight to be seen last week. Our staff and board fared relatively well during the snowstorm. We hope all of our Texas friends reading this did as well.

For the Shumla crew, power is restored and pipes have been fixed. The snow has melted and we're left with some beautiful pictures to remember this historic event.
And in true Shumla fashion, some fun photos too! From Diana's perched feline, to Jessica's Egyptian Pyramid and Easter Island Moai, and Vicky's dragon shielded from the sun under a tree.
Join us in welcoming
Dr. Lori Barkwill Love!

Lori is participating in a post-doc internship with Dr. Karen Steelman in Shumla’s Archaeological Chemistry Laboratory. She is a recent PhD graduate from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Her dissertation research used radiocarbon dating, Bayesian chronological modeling, neutron activation analysis on ceramics, and X-ray fluorescence on obsidian to challenge the village concept for the Mogollon Early Pithouse period (AD 200-700) in the US Southwest.

Her primary research interests are in radiocarbon dating and Bayesian analysis. Lori is excited to work with Karen in the Chemistry Lab at Shumla to learn the more technical aspects of laboratory work associated with radiocarbon dating. She is also interested in applying Bayesian chronological modeling to rock art dates to help further refine rock art chronology.
Lori was warmly welcomed to Comstock by Max (the cat), who is now the resident porch cat at the Guest House. After a 10-day self-quarantine, Lori entered Karen’s bubble and they’ve been working in the laboratory to process paint samples for radiocarbon dating.

Welcome Lori!
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