January 27, 2020 - No Comments!

January 2020 Newsletter

We are now two years old! So far, we’ve been working relatively quietly.  Developing technology.  Generating images.  Building relationships.  Testing ideas. 
Here is what we've been up to.  This quarterly newsletter will catch you up on our:

  • 3D modeling work for the Chickasaw Nation
  • Scouting and documenting rock art sites in the Western United States
  • The Launch of our vision for the Mural of America!

Thanks for being part of the Archive’s work.  To show our gratitude, everyone who receives this newsletter is automatically entered into a quarterly drawing to receive a signed 8.5 x 11” print.  Here’s this quarter’s shot:

King's Crown petroglyphs above Ferron, Utah part of our Mural of America project

Although only one person will win the drawing, there is a way you can guarantee you’ll get your hands on the print.  If you click here and donate $100 (or more!) to support the Archive’s work, we will send you the print as our thank you.  
Stephen Alvarez
Founder, Ancient Art Archive

Chickasaw Nation | Documenting Sacred Sites

Long prior to European Contact, the Chickasaw people established their homeland in an area that included parts of today’s Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky.  Under the U.S. federal government’s Indian Removal policy, the Chickasaw Nation was forced on the Trail of Tears to south-central Oklahoma in the 1830s.  Although the Nation has created new opportunities in its new homeland, origin stories passed down through the generations still refer to formative events that occurred in the Southeast. To reestablish their connection with their former homeland and protect ancestral sacred places, the Nation has been purchasing lands containing important sites in Alabama and Mississippi.  Even so, tribal members are still physically dislocated from these cultural assets, and most, including elders, have not been able to visit the sites in person. 

The Chickasaw Homeland in the Southern United States. For a description of the homeland from the Chickasaw Press go here.

n 2019, the Chickasaw Nation contracted with the University of Tennessee and the Ancient Art Archive to help address this challenge, hiring us to document, analyze, and model a sacred rock art site in their traditional homeland.  Working for the Chickasaw was an honor and allowed us to develop and refine documentation and 3D modeling techniques that enable people to virtually experience the sites in truly remarkable detail.  It also helped provide the Archive with a blueprint for how to work with descendant communities in other areas of the country – not just in consultation, but in cooperation and collaboration as well.

Using VR technology, we could provide the Nation with intellectual access and an incredibly realistic way to visit these places.  Because the Chickasaw Nation owns the site and purchased the rights to the images, we can’t share any specific photographs or video or the location of the site at this time, but we can share what it was like to present the story to the Chickasaws in their Oklahoma home.

Watching resource managers, elders, young people, artists, and other tribal members virtually experience the art related to their origin stories was a powerful experience.  Through technology, they got to see how the stories are written on the landscape in their ancient homeland.  As they watched, their faces lit up with dreams and ideas, and their animated conversations afterward reflected a renewed sense of connection to their past and to their community. We thank Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby for working to preserve and protect precious cultural resources even in the now far-distant traditional homeland so that Chickasaws can maintain the connection with their cultural heritage. 

This episode of Chickasaw TV shows a program that brings Chickasaw youth to the homeland for an extended exploration. The connection and emotions of that visit are palpable. We can help empower that connection through virtual reality modeling

National Geographic | Artwork in Western National Monuments

Pahranagat style anthropomorphic figure in the Basin and Range National Monument

A tremendous amount of land has been set aside in the West for conservation purposes.  Alvarez Photography received a grant from the National Geographic Society to draw attention to the artwork in a series of National Monuments in Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada that were studied for reduction by the Department of Interior.  Unfortunately, while the work was in progress, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante were significantly reduced in size and protection. 
We have all heard the voices of those who want to monetize the lands through mining and energy, and those who want to make the lands available for public recreational use.  What most people don’t know, however, is that much of this land was specifically set aside to preserve the priceless archaeology and spectacular artwork.  Gold Butte, Basin and Range, Canyon of the Ancients, Grand Staircase Escalante, Vermillion Cliffs, and Bears Ears were all created in part to protect their artistic treasures.
National Geographic commissioned the work to do what it does best – share these natural wonders – works of art that most people aren’t aware exist -- with people all over the world.  Hopefully, this visibility will create the political will for continued protection. 
The work included 3D modeling which we will be rolling out this year. Our first model from the Basin and Range is here
Meanwhile, in addition to supporting conservation efforts, this project was helpful to the Archive as I was able to scout sites, generate important images, and begin to establish relationships that are going to be critical to the Mural of America project … read on get a taste of the Archive’s future!

Ancient Art Archive | Mural of America
As I’ve traveled across the world, I’ve been inspired by the earliest artists, whose work appears on almost every continent and still speaks to us tens of thousands of years later.  I want everyone to be able to share that experience, and so I started the Ancient Art Archive, with a mission to share and preserve humanity’s oldest stories.  

Now, the Archive is ready to bring its mission to life with the Mural of America.  We will travel across America, using our unique scientific and artistic expertise to identify and document extraordinary murals of mind-boggling scope and size.  

This short video explains the project.

We will collaborate with tech geeks and humanities scholars and descendants of the original Americans to figure out the best information and the best ways to share it for FREE with everyone, everywhere, in a responsible fashion that does not endanger the artwork we all  love.  Our goal for 2020 is to prototype one site from beginning to end, perfecting our processes as we go, and setting the table for funding to document over a dozen sites around the country by our 250th Anniversary.

The Big Cochina Panel in the Bears Ears National Monument

Published by: Stephen Alvarez in Uncategorized

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