PCAS General Meetings


Monthly lecture meetings feature noted archaeologists and anthropologists who provide insight into a variety of topics. Lecture meetings are held via Zoom at 7:30 pm on the second Thursday of each month. Meetings are free and open to the public.

Many past PCAS lectures are available on the PCAS YouTube channel.

PCAS Zoom Meetings  

 

No meetings in July and August

 

September 12, 2024

Zoom Meeting

Dr. Carolyn E. Boyd

El Núcleo Duro: Evidence for Enduring Myths in Archaic Period Rock Art of the Lower Pecos Canyonlands

Hunter-gatherer artists in the Lower Pecos Canyonlands of southwest Texas and northern Mexico began painting Pecos River style (PRS) rock art around 5,500 years ago. For generations scholars contended that these murals were beyond interpretation and that the stories they tell were lost with the artists who painted them. However, over the past two decades, Boyd has identified patterns in PRS murals similar to the mythologies of the ancient Nahua (Aztec) and the present-day Huichol (Wixárika). In her 2016 book, The White Shaman Mural: An Enduring Creation Narrative, she advanced the hypothesis that PRS murals are visual narratives containing evidence of el núcleo duro - an Archaic core of beliefs persisting across time and across cultural, linguistic, and geographic boundaries. If this is true, then living indigenous people should be able to relate PRS imagery to their cosmology. To test this hypothesis, Boyd and her colleagues recently traveled to the Huichol community of San Andrés Cohamiata, Jalisco, Mexico, to meet with seven shaman-elders, whose belief system closely reflects ancient Mesoamerican cosmological concepts. Conducting and recording open-ended interviews, they shared illustrated mural panoramas with the elders to find the answers to two questions: Are PRS pictographic elements and patterns recognizable to present-day Huichol shamans? Can they offer insights into the image-making process of PRS pictography or the visual narratives they portray? In El Núcleo Duro, Boyd will share her analysis of these interviews and reveal core symbols and mythological concepts deeply embedded in PRS rock art that endure today in the ancestral knowledge of Indigenous Native America. She will also share an interpretation of the Fate Bell Mural as informed by Huichol elders and her analysis of Huichol mythology.

Dr. Carolyn E. Boyd is the Shumla Endowed Research Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Texas State University. She is an artist and an archaeologist specializing in iconographic analysis and cognitive archaeology. She received her doctorate in archaeology from Texas A&M University based on her analysis of the 5,000-year-old Pecos River style rock art in the Lower Pecos Canyonlands of Texas and Mexico. Her research examines the role of hunter-gatherer artists as active participants in the social, economic, and ideological fabric of the community, and the function of art as communication and a mechanism for social and environmental adaptation. She is author numerous publications, including two books, Rock Art of the Lower Pecos (2003) and The White Shaman Mural: An Enduring Creation Narrative, which received the 2017 Scholarly Book Award from the Society for American Archaeology.

In 1998, Boyd founded a nonprofit organization, Shumla Archaeological Research and Education Center, to preserve and study the rock art of the Lower Pecos. She serves as ex-officio head of research for the organization and collaborates with Shumla on various research initiatives. Boyd’s current projects include Origins and Tenacity of Myth in Archaic Period Rock Art of Southwest Texas and Northern Mexico, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Layers of Meaning: Chronological Modeling & Pictograph Stratigraphy, funded by the National Science Foundation. This collaborative and interdisciplinary research program synthesizes expertise from chemistry, archaeological science, formal art analysis, and Indigenous consultants. Results from these projects are informing studies of myth, forager social organization, art history, and the origins of Mesoamerican myth and art. Results also are providing insights into possible drivers for the emergence and decline of Pecos River style rock art, including environmental, social, and extra-regional cultural influences.

 

October 10, 2024

David Lee

Seeing Rock Art through the Eyes of the Elders

 

November 14, 2024

David Nichols

 

December 12, 2024

Dr. Duncan McLaren