The Alexandria Project

The Lower Pecos Canyonlands holds a vast Archaic library. Shumla made a plan to preserve it. We called 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


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.


Full preservation documentation can take more than a year. At that 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 couldn’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.


In Phase 1 of the Alexandria Project, Shumla’s team followed a rigorous research and data management plan to complete Level 1 documentation at 233 sites in just four years — 2017 to 2020. As always, we worked closely with landowners to receive permission to access any sites on private property.

At each site we:

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

Successful completion of this project has:

  • Given us a much more complete picture of the remaining “library” of painted texts
  • Digitally documented the majority of the rock art for this vast archaeological region,
  • Established a baseline record of the art in its current condition,
  • Generated a vast data set that scholars and students can use to conduct research and answer globally-significant questions for years and years to come.

Most importantly, the data we gathered 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 importance. Phase 2 — the full documentation of these sites — will define the on-going work of Shumla for our foreseeable future.

The Alexandria Project was the most ambitious project Shumla has ever undertaken. Together with our supporters, we moved the needle on the preservation and study of the North American Archaic library of murals in a big way.

Thank you to all our supporters. We’re on to the next step!

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.

Anonymous Foundation Donor

Observing rock art at Panther Cave

We Need You!

Please help us preserve the murals of the Lower Pecos Canyonlands!