The Alexandria Project

The Lower Pecos Canyonlands holds a vast Archaic library. Shumla has a plan to preserve it.
We call it the Alexandria Project.

The Library of Alexandria in Egypt burned in 48 B.C. Hundreds of scrolls that told of ancient philosophy, botany, astronomy, medicine, mythology, and ritual went up in smoke. A staggering amount of knowledge was lost.

Burning of the Library at Alexandria

The type of knowledge that was lost to the Old World is what Shumla is working to preserve here in the New World. Our “scrolls” are the narrative murals of Texas. They are an archive left by ancient people, painted thousands of years before we thought it was possible to have a “written” record. We cannot lose this knowledge!

The Alexandria Project

BACKGROUND

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 even recreated once lost.

NEED

Full preservation documentation can take more than a year. At this rate it would take over 100 years to reach and preserve all of the over 300 rock art sites in the Lower Pecos Canyonlands. We can’t wait that long. Many sites are imminently threatened by flooding. All are degrading rapidly. We must visit and collect critical baseline information at each site as quickly as possible, before they are lost.

PLAN

In Phase 1 of the Alexandria Project, Shumla’s team will follow a rigorous research and data management plan to complete Level 1 documentation at all known sites in just three years — 2017 to 2020. As always, we will work closely with landowners to receive permission to access any sites on private property.

At each site we will:

  • Capture a high-resolution Gigapan image of the entire mural,
  • Record an accurate GPS centroid coordinate,
  • Capture image data for Structure-for-Motion Photogrammetry 3-D Modeling,
  • Complete a State of Texas Archaeological Site Form
  • Complete a Shumla Rock Art Site Form, and
  • Complete canyon surveys near known sites to discover new sites.
THE RESULT

We will have:

  • Cataloged the Archaic library of painted texts,
  • Digitally document the rock art of a vast archaeological region,
  • Established a baseline record of the art in its current condition,
  • Generated a data set that scholars and students can use to conduct research and answer globally-significant questions for years and years to come, and

Most importantly, the data we gather during Phase 1 of the Alexandria Project will inform how we prioritize sites for full preservation-through-documentation. We will know which sites are the most imminently threatened and which are of greatest import. Phase 2 — the full documentation of all sites in the region — will define the on-going work of Shumla for our foreseeable future.

Shumla is one of the most successful organizations we have ever supported. In a short time, they’ve transformed a small rural educational facility into a world-class research facility. They have learned how to decipher ancient rock art compositions and developed methods of documentation that are being examined and exported internationally. And perhaps most importantly, they are documenting a world heritage treasure that is being lost.

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We Need You!

Please help us catalog and ultimately preserve the North American Archaic library!

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