April 2024

Dear Friends,

Did you see the eclipse? Many of us were in places where there were clouds, but most of the Shumla crew got to catch glimpses of the event through the wisps. Veronica and I were at the Perot Museum of Natural History in Dallas with our family, friends and a great crowd of excited revelers. Amazingly after a cloudy morning, the skies parted we were able to watch the eclipse event from start to finish. We truly couldn't believe our luck.

The celestial display was made somehow more incredible by the uncanny hush that spread (after initial screams and applause) as everyone of the hundreds of watchers stilled and took in the magnitude of what we were witnessing. Of course, I couldn't help but think of the Archaic people of the Lower Pecos Canyonlands and what they would have made of the eclipse. They may have known it was coming, as closely as they followed the skies and the movements of the sun, moon, planets and stars. I imagine that the sense of awe and wonder that we felt would have been shared across the miles and centuries.

There are so many things that bind us together in our human experience that transcend time and space. Love, community, art and wonder to name a few. I hope you have a great deal of all four in your life. If you ever feel lacking, come and get some with us at Shumla!

All the best,


Eagle Nest Canyon Journal

Shumla staff, both past and present, contributed multiple research papers to the recent Journal of Texas Archeology and History "The Archaeology of Eagle Nest Canyon, Texas: Papers in Honor of Jack and Wilmuth Skiles." This is an open source publication and online access is available for free at www.JTAH.org. There are 28 papers in the volume. Two focus specifically on the rock art of the canyon:


Castañeda et al., "Looking Inward, Outward, and Forward: The Rock Art of Eagle Nest Canyon in a Regional Context."

Lindsay et al., "The Skiles Family and Rock Art Research in the Lower Pecos Canyonlands."

Congratulations to all the authors in the volume, and special thanks to the editors Stephen L. Black, J. David Kilby, and Amanda M. Castañeda.

Click to Read

Catching Up with Scholars

The Scholars kicked off the spring by visiting the White Shaman mural. Science Director, Dr. Karen Steelman, detailed the research that Shumla and Dr. Carolyn Boyd has done at the site. Then, the students each selected a Pecos River style figure in the mural to draw and describe to their classmates. After their experience, Karen asked them what they thought of the site and they responded. "It was epic!"

The Scholars have also been helping Dr. Steelman in her laboratory. They learned about how she processes pictograph paint samples for radiocarbon dating. They then helped remove previously oxidized samples from the plasma oxidation instrument. Doing a wonderful job at a very delicate process. Then, they got the instrument ready for the next set of experiments. 

Thanks Comstock Seniors!

Trek with Shumla

Need some wonder if your life? You can experience the wonders of the Lower Pecos Canyonlands next weekend!

Last weekend we enjoyed perfect weather and awe-inspiring rock art on the Shumla Treks to Eagle Nest Canyon, Black Cave (shown above) and Vaquero Shelter. Join us next weekend to feel the wonder for yourself at Crab Shelter, Sunburst Shelter (shown below) and Painted Shelter. All three are iconic sites and the first two come with a gorgeous view of the Devil's River.

Saturday, April 27, 2024 Crab and Sunburst Shelters

Sunday, April 28, 2024 Painted Shelter

Click to Register

May Lunch & Learn

In the second of our four-part series on the results of the Hearthstone Project, today Diana will share the compositional structure of the murals the team studied.

Through the use of Harris Matrix, Diana will show how the murals, and in particular the iconic panel at the south end of Fate Bell Shelter in Seminole Canyon State Park, were woven together in a complex composition that lays the groundwork for the interpretation that will be the topic of the fourth Hearthstone Project Results Lunch and Learn.

Hearthstone Project Results 2 of 4:

Proof of Composition

Presenter: Diana Radillo Rolón, PhD.

Date: Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Time: Noon to 1:00 PM Central Time

Platform: Zoom

Click to Register Today!

Ready for More Results?

You've supported us and cheered us on since the beginning of the Hearthstone Project. Now that the rigorous work of gathering the data is done, the meticulous work of analysis and drawing conclusions is in full swing. We can't wait to share what we are learning.

Join us for the Hearthstone Project Results Lunch and Learn Series. In March, Dr. Phil Dering laid the groundwork for the Hearthstone Project and the cultural and environmental context of the world the painters of the Pecos River Style murals inhabited. This month, David Keim presented on paint sequencing. Then, in two further parts the results of our various scientific studies will be discussed.

Check out the schedule below and mark your calendar. You can register anytime at https://shumla.org/education/lunchandlearn.


Karen Steelman, PhD. Shumla

Hearthstone Project Results 3 of 4:

A Chronology Emerges

Through the Hearthstone Project, Shumla's Archaeological Chemistry Laboratory obtained 60 radiocarbon dates for Pecos River Style pictographs. In the fourth and final Lunch and Learn in our Hearthstone Results series, Karen will reveal and synthesize these dates with the iconographic data, particularly what has been revealed about key motifs like the winged-anthropomorph and single-pole ladder.



Carolyn Boyd, PhD. – Texas State University

Hearthstone Project Results 4 of 4:

Motif Interpretation

In 2023, Drs. Carolyn Boyd and Phil Dering conducted interviews and collected audio recordings as Indigenous Huichol consultants related Pecos River Style imagery to their own myths and cosmology. In June's Lunch and Learn, Carolyn will share results of the analysis of these indigenous interviews and how they are opening new lines of inquiry and discovery in the interpretation of Pecos River Style murals. You will marvel at how they reveal deeply embedded symbols and concepts in the rock art that endure today in the ancestral knowledge of Indigenous Native America.

I want to contribute

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Shumla Archaeological Research & Education Center 

P.O. Box 627, Comstock, TX 78837

info@shumla.org | shumla.org 


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