Burning Water: Time and Creation in the Rock Art of the Lower Pecos

Author(s): Carolyn Boyd; Kim Cox

Year: 2017


The White Shaman Mural (~2000 BP) is a planned composition with rules governing the portrayal of symbolic forms and the sequencing of colors. Using digital microscopy we determined that all black paint was applied first, followed by red, then yellow, and last white. Complex images were woven together to form an intricate visual narrative detailing the birth of the sun and beginning of time. One of the key figures in this creation narrative is a small anthropomorphic figure bearing red antlers tipped with black dots. The juxtapositioning of red antlers and black dots is ubiquitous in Pecos River style rock art, as is the painting sequence of these two pictorial elements. In each example, the black dots were applied prior to the red antlers. "Burning Water" explores the significance of this motif in the White Shaman Mural and in the graphic vocabulary of the Lower Pecos. It is a visual pun or couplet metaphor joining two opposing forces—fire and water—to initiate creation and the beginning of human time.

Cite this Record

Burning Water: Time and Creation in the Rock Art of the Lower Pecos. Carolyn Boyd, Kim Cox. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431794)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15319