Archives for March 2021

March 20, 2021 - Comments Off on Shooting the Milky Way and Rock Art

Shooting the Milky Way and Rock Art

A Paranagant anthropomorphic figure at Shaman's Knob at Mt Irish Archaeological District.

One of the most common questions that I get asked about photography is how do you shoot images like this where you can see the Milky Way?

The Shooting Gallery Archaeological District in the Basin and Range National Monument. The Shooting Gallery was an archaic kill site. Begining 5,000 years ago the enclosed valley was used to drive game animals into and harvest them in large numbers.

How do you make images where you can see the rock art but also stars and the milky way, images like the time-lapse sequence on our home page?

Read more

March 14, 2021 - Comments Off on Chauvet Pont d’Arc the discovery of 36,000-year-old art

Chauvet Pont d’Arc the discovery of 36,000-year-old art

27 years ago, a team of explorers lead by Jean-Marie Chauvet squeezed through a tiny rock opening in the gorge of the Ardèche River in Southern France.

An aerial view of the gorge of the Ardèche with its natural bridge. Chauvet cave is in the cliff on the left side of the abandoned oxbow.

Inside, they discovered a previously unknown cave.

A portion of the Horse Panel in Chauvet Cave, France.

Unknown to modern humanity, that is.

A detailed photograph of 2 woolly rhinoceros on the wall of Chauvet pont d'Arc cave in France.

They obviously weren’t the cave’s first human visitors, for artwork of unimaginable antiquity covered the walls.

a 3D model of the lion panel of Chauvet cave

They stood in awe, surrounded by paintings, charcoal drawings, and etchings of transcendent artistic beauty.

Read more

March 7, 2021 - Comments Off on NASA algorithm helps us see faded art

NASA algorithm helps us see faded art

Hundreds, thousands of years exposed to the elements often leave ancient art hard to see. Famous sites like Chauvet, Altamira and the Great Gallery are well preserved but some important rock and cave art sites are weathered almost beyond recognition. How do we see rock art that is mostly weathered away? Mathematics, NASA and rock art enthusiast Jon Harman have a solution. It is an image analytic program Harman developed called DStretch.

Barrier Canyon Style Petroglyphs in a side canyon of Ferron Creek. Emery County, Utah. See what it looks like after DStretch on the next page.

The program uses a method called decorrelation stretch, which was originally used by NASA to improve remote sensing images of Mars. DStretch takes the NASA algorithm but optimizes it for rock art. The program analyzes photographs of rock art sites, and then shifts the images’ color to highlight designs and patterns that have faded away or otherwise become invisible to the naked eye by providing more contrast within the image. The program is especially useful when it comes to faded colors, particularly reds, yellows, blacks, and whites, but it is also works on etchings and other rock art forms. The results are a false color image that is often much more detailed than the original.


Read more

March 7, 2021 - Comments Off on Unnamed Esplanade Poylchrome site

Unnamed Esplanade Poylchrome site

Esplanade Style Polychrome Panel, Mojave County, Arizona

This is the type site for Esplanade style polychrome rock art. Known from only 25 sites it is some of the most enigmatic and beautiful prehistoric art in North America. There are fewer than 25 examples of Esplanade style rock art all are located in Mojave County Arizona. As such it is one of the least studied types of North American rock art. Age estimates range from archaic southwest (8,000 BCE) to pre-Fremont (500 BCE).

The style stands out for its tremendous detail. See the close-up image of part of the panel below. Some of the anthropomorphic figures are presented in "x-ray" style. Eyes often have lashes. The images are finely rendered. 

Read more

March 5, 2021 - 1 comment.

Dating Rock Art, How Old Is It?

Artists who created the ancient masterpieces that we appreciate today—cave paintings, murals on cliff walls, countless carvings, and other artifacts—left no written records about the worlds in which they lived. This often makes it difficult to know when they lived. Fortunately, modern technology has helped scientists develop several dating methods to accurately date ancient art sites.

Scientists used carbon 14 dating to determine that the charcoal used at Chauvet was over 30,000 years old

Read more

March 4, 2021 - Comments Off on The New York Times says we are one of five accounts you should follow on Instagram

The New York Times says we are one of five accounts you should follow on Instagram

The 36,000 year old Horse Panel of Chauvet

This week, New York Times arts critic Martha Schwendener called the Ancient Art Archive one of the 5 instagram accounts that you should follow right now.

“…the Ancient Art Archive journeys to caves, mesas, buttes and other sites around the world, documenting the paintings and marks made by our ancient ancestors.”

She called out two of our posts in particular, one from Chauvet Cave in France and another from the Maze Panel in Arizona.

The Maze Panel in the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument.

It is an honor to be featured in the Times. The explosive growth of our Instagram feed shows what we have long known, people are hungry for these images from the past.

March 3, 2021 - Comments Off on Handprints are the universal symbol for humanity

Handprints are the universal symbol for humanity

Ten negative handprints in Fish Canyon, Bears Ears National Monument, Utah

If there is a single symbol that could stand for all of humanity it is the negative handprint. I've seen the negative handprint reproduced on 6 continents and across all ages of human creativity. From the Paleolithic to modern times the images persists in our visual vocabulary. They may well be the very first artistic expression. To me, they are the original 'selfie' the very first way that people recorded their passage. That urge to leave a visual mark that says "I was here" is uniquely human.

Read more