Hearthstone Project

A project anchored in science, art and indigenous knowledge.

The Hearthstone Project is built on the results of the Alexandria Project and endorsed by the most prestigious national granting agencies in our field. This interdisciplinary and collaborative project with Texas State University is poised to reveal the mysteries of when and how the paintings were produced and what they were created to communicate. Dr. Phil Dering will be publishing a Hearthstone Project blog to keep you up-to-date with the project.

Check out the blog links below to follow along on our journey to unlock the many stories of the Lower Pecos Canyonlands of Southwest Texas.

Processing and Organizing the Data

Processing and Organizing the Data

The contrast between field work and lab work is often striking, and our experience in Mexico is no exception. We left the spontaneous and unpredictable fieldwork conducted in the wide-open spaces of
the sierras to begin our deliberate and meticulous lab work, stuck in front of a computer for hours on end.

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The Hearthstone/National Endowment for the Humanities Interviews

The Hearthstone/National Endowment for the Humanities Interviews

In 2016, Carolyn Boyd and Kim Cox suggested that Pecos River style (PRS) murals are visual narratives containing evidence of el nucleo duro (the hard nucleus), a widespread Archaic core of beliefs persisting across time and across cultural, linguistic, and geographic boundaries. If this is true, then Indigenous people living today should be able to relate PRS imagery to their cosmology. In 2021, Carolyn was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant through her position at Texas State University to test this hypothesis and Shumla received a subaward as part of this collaborative grant.

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Fate Bell

Fate Bell

Fate Bell is a massive rockshelter in Seminole Canyon State Park and Historical Site. Our field work focused on a famous set of well-preserved images at the southern end of the shelter, commonly called “The Triad”.

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Painted Canyon

Painted Canyon

Painted Canyon houses two spectacular rock art sites, Jackrabbit and Jaguar shelters. The mural in Jaguar shelter is the oldest we have yet radiocarbon dated in the region. It may contain the oldest securely dated pictographs in North America. We are conducting additional research as part of the field work described in this blog to confirm our findings.  

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Our Research Plans

Our Research Plans

Is Pecos River Style mural art a surviving manifestation of core beliefs that formed the basis for later Aztec, Toltec, and Olmec religions? If this is true, then regardless of group affiliation, any person with a working knowledge of the transcendent myths informing the art could read the murals.

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