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Online Rock Art Lectures


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Previous ARARA online lectures can be viewed on our Youtube channel.

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September 12, 2020: Revisiting the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History 1935 Hurricane Deck Expedition - William D. Hyder

Reports of spectacular painted caves in the remote Santa Barbara backcountry attracted the attention of Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History (SBMNH) archaeologist David Banks Rogers in 1935 and they quickly mounted a research expedition in response to reports of pot hunting. While the “spectacular” sites became popular hiking destinations, the expedition collections were never adequately analyzed or considered in rock art studies. Recent trends in Chumash rock art research make it timely to revisit the collections and the sites. This re-assessment focuses on the role of females in rock art and pigment production, the medicinal role of rock art, and the importance of the Milky Way in Chumash cosmology and rock art.

William Hyder has been researching and writing about Chumash rock art and Basketmaker rock art for the past 40 years. He has conducted or participated in research projects for the California State Parks and the National Park Service. In addition to being a past president of ARARA, he is a Research Associate of the Anthropology Department at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and is a board member of the California Rock Art Research Association. He retired from the University of California Santa Cruz in 2010 where he served as a senior administrator in Information Technology. He received MAs in Political Science and Anthropology from the University of California Santa Barbara.

October 10, 2020: A Feast for the Mind's Eyes the San rock paintings of Zimbabwe - Anne Stoll, photography by George Stoll

How about a delicious visual feast from selected painted caves of Zimbabwe? The rock art of this distant African country still radiates its ancient vibrancy from afar with the power to intrigue and amaze. Thousands of known but mostly unrecorded painted sites are found in rock shelters, overhangs and scattered boulders throughout the granite hills of Zimbabwe, the art of now long-gone native people commonly known as the San. Although not often seen these days (with sites even harder to visit now than last year when we were there), the art of the San Bushman has been very well-studied for over a century by many of the world's great rock art scholars. As we have learned, rock art still plays an important role in the heritage of Zimbabwe's Shona and Ndebele people today. Part of our recent work has been in the Museum of Human Sciences in Harare photo-documenting the rock art copies stored and on display there, particularly focusing on copies made between 1938 and 1943 by former curator, Elisabeth Goodall. The shift in perspective from an artist's copy to an enhanced digital reproduction can be illuminating in many dimensions yet we acknowledge and respect the enigma at the heart of this cultural expression. Perhaps we can find common ground in its beauty as shared in our mind's eyes.

Anne Q. Stoll, M.A. anthropology, enjoyed a professional career as a field archaeologist, writer, editor, instructor, and lecturer in archaeology and anthropology beginning in 1984. In 1999 she joined the cultural resources staff at Statistical Research Inc., Redlands, where she participated in more than a dozen major and uncounted minor archaeological undertakings for private and government clients. She remains a Research Associate with this organization. Since retirement, she has maintained an active interest in prehistoric rock art research, presenting and publishing papers on African, Mexican and Brazilian sites and speaking for a wide spectrum of audiences. 

George Stoll, Ph.D., emeritus professor of Chemical and Materials Engineering at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, has pursued an avid interest in outdoor photography for over 45 years. Together with his wife, Anne, George has photo-documented many hundreds of painted and incised parietal art sites in the American West and around the world.

Between 2011 and 2015, the Stolls explored the countries of southern Africa and were most affected by rock art sites seen in Zimbabwe. After a hiatus of several years, the Stolls were able to return to Zimbabwe in 2019 to continue the work and assess the changes. They are working now as part of the collaborative effort to gain assistance for the Museum of Human Sciences in Harare and all endangered cultural heritage throughout the country.

The Stolls use the digital image enhancement program DStretch (www.DStretch.com) to photograph the faded paint and bring the art to life for modern viewers and researchers. After a several year hiatus, the Stolls returned to Zimbabwe in 2019.


November 14, 2020: In the limelight: Public rock art sites in the Temagami area (northeastern Ontario) - Dagmara Zawadzka