Preserving the oldest “books” in North America

Shumla is a global leader in rock art research and education. We use advanced science and technology in our fight to preserve the information held in the oldest “books” in North America — the endangered murals of the Lower Pecos Canyonlands of Texas.

Our discoveries are adding chapters to the history of our state, our continent and the world.
Our work is preserving an untapped ancient library for future generations.

The Culmination of Over 25 Years of Research

The White Shaman Mural: An Enduring Creation Narrative

Carolyn Boyd takes us on a journey of discovery. She builds a convincing case that the mural tells a story of the birth of the sun and the beginning of time—making it possibly the oldest pictorial creation narrative in North America.

Winner of the 2017 Society of American Archaeology Scholarly Book Award

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The latest news from Shumla

The Latest

This just in! Great article about Shumla and the Alexandria Project in the Austin American-Statesman. Check it out!

Rock art mural close up

Our Story

The story of Shumla began over 4,000 years ago when the people of the Lower Pecos began to paint their myths and beliefs on the canyon walls. We work to protect and share the “library” of painted texts and the information they hold. Learn more…

Group at White Shaman mural

Give to Shumla

Shumla needs your help! We’re not a government agency or funded by a university. We’re a non-profit 501(c)(3).
Visit our Support Us page and give today!

Preservation Projects

panther_cave_animalThe Panther Cave Pictograph 3D Modeling Project is a great example of the collaborative work Shumla conducts as part of our ongoing conservation and education efforts in the Lower Pecos River basin. Panther Cave, named after the giant panther at the far end of the site, contains Pecos River and Red Linear style pictographic imagery dating back approximately 4,000 years. The site, situated in Seminole Canyon State Park, is endangered by periodic flooding and is accessible only by boat. The 3D model was part of a documentation project with our partners to digitally preserve the site for future generations.

Take the 3D tour of the Panther Cave rock art panel

Ongoing Projects

The Alexandria Project
Research team at Panther CaveShumla has developed a sophisticated preservation-through-documentation process. The globally-recognized Shumla Method documents each mural so thoroughly that it can forever be studied and, in some cases, even recreated once lost. However, full documentation can take more than a year. There are more than 300 known rock art panels in the region. It would take over 100 years to preserve them fully one at a time. Many murals are imminently threatened by flooding. All are degrading rapidly. We must visit and collect critical information at each site as quickly as possible, before they are lost.

In partnership with landowners and with their permission, Shumla’s team will complete Level 1 documentation at as many of the known rock art sites as possible in just three years — 2017–2020. We will follow a rigorous research and data management plan.

This project will:

  • Give us a near complete picture of the North American Archaic library of painted texts,
  • Digitally document the rock art of a vast archaeological region,
  • Establish a baseline record of the art in its current condition,
  • Generate a data set scholars and students can use to conduct research and answer globally-significant questions for years and years to come, and
  • Allow Shumla to make informed decisions about which sites require priority in on-going full documentation.

Preservation Projects

The Panther Cave Pictograph 3D Modeling Project is a great example of the collaborative work Shumla conducts as part of our ongoing conservation and education efforts in the Lower Pecos River basin. Panther Cave, named after the giant panther at the far end of the site, contains Pecos River and Red Linear style pictographic imagery dating back approximately 4,000 years. The site, situated in Seminole Canyon State Park, is endangered by periodic flooding and is accessible only by boat. The 3D model was part of a documentation project with our partners to digitally preserve the site for future generations.

Take the 3D tour of the Panther Cave rock art panel

panther_cave_animal

Ongoing Projects

The Alexandria Project Shumla has developed a sophisticated preservation-through-documentation process. The globally-recognized Shumla Method documents each mural so thoroughly that it can forever be studied and, in some cases, even recreated once lost. However, full documentation can take more than a year. There are more than 300 known rock art panels in the region. It would take over 100 years to preserve them fully one at a time. Many murals are imminently threatened by flooding. All are degrading rapidly. We must visit and collect critical information at each site as quickly as possible, before they are lost.

In partnership with landowners and with their permission, Shumla’s team will complete Level 1 documentation at as many of the known rock art sites as possible in just three years — 2017–2020. We will follow a rigorous research and data management plan.

This project will:

  • Give us a near complete picture of the North American Archaic library of painted texts,
  • Digitally document the rock art of a vast archaeological region,
  • Establish a baseline record of the art in its current condition,
  • Generate a data set scholars and students can use to conduct research and answer globally-significant questions for years and years to come, and
  • Allow Shumla to make informed decisions about which sites require priority in on-going full documentation.
Research team at Panther Cave

What Are People Saying About Shumla?

Few bodies of rock art are more spectacular than the ancient Pecos River Style paintings. Appropriately, no research program in the world is more technologically sophisticated and analytically thorough than Shumla’s, which is quickly demonstrating that the Pecos corpus is one of the world’s richest and most important archaeological records. Great prehistoric art deserves the best science. Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in Shumla’s research.

Dr. David Whitley

Rock Art Researcher, Council of Directors of the ICOMOS, International Rock Art Committee

It is my considered opinion – after having seen rock art on all continents – that the Pecos River rock art is second to none and ranks among the top bodies of rock art anywhere in the world.

Dr. Jean Clottes

Internationally acclaimed rock art researcher, scientific advisor to UNESCO, Foix, France

Shumla, a state-of-the-art research organization, is currently doing some of the most advanced rock art research in the world. From high-tech on-site recording methods, to expansive rock art data management capabilities, to publication of findings, Shumla is successfully preserving one of the most spectacular collections of rock art in North America and offers an unparalleled opportunity for scholars to study this art tradition now and far into the future.

Dr. James Keyser

Retired U.S. Forest Service Archaeologist and author of multiple rock art books

“The chief export of the Lower Pecos is amazement.”

Where We Are

Shumla is located in Comstock, TX, about 30 miles west of Del Rio. We welcome visitors to our headquarters and to this beautiful desert savannah region. Though many of the ancient murals are on private land, there are some spectacular sites that are open to the public. Our partners at the The Witte Museum and Seminole Canyon State Park offer scheduled tours. You can see in this photo gallery a visual sample of our uniquely beautiful and historically significant surroundings.

Give to Shumla

Help us preserve the oldest “books” in North America for future generations.
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