Photo exhibit: “The Sky Above, The Mud Below: Prehistoric Rock Art of the Southeast”

jumpoff man

An exhibit of photographs by Alan Cressler will be on display in the University Archives from Aug. 12 to Sept. 9. The Archives gallery will be open Monday-Friday from 1-5 p.m., and from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24.

Prehistoric rock art in southeastern North America was observed by Fray Ramon Pane during the second voyage of Columbus, but archaeologists are only now coming to understand its complexity. Rock art was produced in two contexts, in the open air and deep inside caves. The cave art was discovered only recently, when in 1979 cavers found pictures drawn in wet mud on the walls of Mud Glyph Cave in East Tennessee; we now know it from more than 70 sites.

A paper about the rock art released this summer by co-authors Jan Simek of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; Sewanee’s Sarah Sherwood; Alan Cressler of the U.S. Geological Survey; and Nick Herrmann of Mississippi State University has received notice worldwide. (See this story in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.) They believe the drawings were linked to the spiritual understandings of the people who created them.

Sherwood, Simek and Cressler will give a presentation about their findings at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8, in Gailor Auditorium. 

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