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.

A Gift on Shumla’s 20th Birthday

Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition

In a surprise presentation at Shumla’s Annual Rancher Steward BBQ, Congressman Will Hurd’s representative to Del Rio, Carmen Gutierrez, awarded Shumla a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition. We were so surprised and gratified to be recognized for 20 years of passion and dedication to the preservation of one of our nation’s most incredible treasures.

The latest news from Shumla

The Latest

Shumla is hiring an Archaeology Director

The Archaeology Director will be responsible for directing archaeological projects (including the Alexandria Project), supervising Shumla archaeologists, interns and volunteers, and achieving Shumla’s mission through archaeological programming. Click here to learn more about the position and apply!

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!

The Alexandria Project

Research team at Panther CaveThe Alexandria Project is an intensive multi-year field project designed to digitally catalog and preserve the entire collection of over 300 endangered rock art panels in the Lower Pecos Canyonlands of Texas. The name draws a comparison between our south Texas “library” of rock art and the ancient Library of Alexandria, lost in 48 B.C. The ancient art of the Lower Pecos, like ancient books, holds information we can now decipher and understand. They reveal chapters of our collective history that no one has read in thousands of years. They make up a library of knowledge about early philosophy, mythology, ritual, astronomy, and so much more… Egypt lost it’s library, but we can save what’s left of our “Alexandria” before it disappears.

The Alexandria Project is a rescue mission. Many panels are imminently threatened by flooding, animal activity, vandalism and environmental changes. All are degrading rapidly. We must visit and collect critical information at each site as quickly as possible, before they are lost. 

Alexandria Project is the most ambitious preservation effort that Shumla has ever undertaken. Shumla has  a sophisticated preservation-through-documentation process. The globally-recognized Shumla Method documents each panel so thoroughly that it can forever be studied and enjoyed.

Gathering the data to ensure that every pictograph is permanently available to students and researchers across disciplines and the globe is an enormous job – but somebody’s got to do it. We’ve stepped up to meet the challenge, but we need your support to make it happen.

Now in our second year, this ground-breaking effort has been garnering some exciting press, including an article in ARCHAEOLOGY Magazine, a cover story in American Archaeology Magazine and a piece in National Geographic HISTORY.

THE PLAN
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 four years — 2017–2020. We will follow a rigorous research and data management plan.

THE DATA
Thus far, we have developed over 130 3D models of painted rock shelters, and over 120 high-resolution GigaPan images of rock art panels. We have collected over 10 terabytes of data! With landowner permission we are able to upload some 3D models to our Sketchfab page and high-res panel images to our GigaPan page to share the rock art with you, all across the world.

THE RESULT
Through this project we will (1) form a near complete picture of the North American Archaic library of painted texts, (2) digitally document the rock art of a vast archaeological region, (3) establish a baseline record of the art in its current condition, (4) generate a data set scholars and students can use to conduct research and answer globally-significant questions for years and years to come, and (5) allow Shumla to make informed decisions about which sites require priority in on-going full documentation.

The Alexandria Project

Research team at Panther CaveThe Alexandria Project is an intensive multi-year field project designed to digitally catalog and preserve the entire collection of over 300 endangered rock art panels in the Lower Pecos Canyonlands of Texas. The name draws a comparison between our south Texas “library” of rock art and the ancient Library of Alexandria, lost in 48 B.C. The ancient art of the Lower Pecos, like ancient books, holds information we can now decipher and understand. They reveal chapters of our collective history that no one has read in thousands of years. They make up a library of knowledge about early philosophy, mythology, ritual, astronomy, and so much more… Egypt lost it’s library, but we can save what’s left of our “Alexandria” before it disappears.

The Alexandria Project is a rescue mission. Many panels are imminently threatened by flooding, animal activity, vandalism and environmental changes. All are degrading rapidly. We must visit and collect critical information at each site as quickly as possible, before they are lost. 

Alexandria Project is the most ambitious preservation effort that Shumla has ever undertaken. Shumla has  a sophisticated preservation-through-documentation process. The globally-recognized Shumla Method documents each panel so thoroughly that it can forever be studied and enjoyed.

Gathering the data to ensure that every pictograph is permanently available to students and researchers across disciplines and the globe is an enormous job – but somebody’s got to do it. We’ve stepped up to meet the challenge, but we need your support to make it happen.

Now in our second year, this ground-breaking effort has been garnering some exciting press, including an article in ARCHAEOLOGY Magazine, a cover story in American Archaeology Magazine and a piece in National Geographic HISTORY.

THE PLAN
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 four years — 2017–2020. We will follow a rigorous research and data management plan.

THE DATA
Thus far, we have developed over 130 3D models of painted rock shelters, and over 120 high-resolution GigaPan images of rock art panels. We have collected over 10 terabytes of data! With landowner permission we are able to upload some 3D models to our Sketchfab page and high-res panel images to our GigaPan page to share the rock art with you, all across the world.

THE RESULT
Through this project we will (1) form a near complete picture of the North American Archaic library of painted texts, (2) digitally document the rock art of a vast archaeological region, (3) establish a baseline record of the art in its current condition, (4) generate a data set scholars and students can use to conduct research and answer globally-significant questions for years and years to come, and (5) allow Shumla to make informed decisions about which sites require priority in on-going full documentation.

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 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

“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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