“The Sky Above, The Mud Below,” presentation on prehistoric rock art

  • on 8 Sep 2013
  • Gailor Auditorium
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Researchers Jan Simek of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; Sewanee’s university archaeologist Sarah Sherwood; and Alan Cressler of the U.S. Geological Survey will give a presentation about prehistoric rock art in conjunction with an exhibit of Cressler’s photos. They will speak about their findings at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8, in Gailor Auditorium. 

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 the co-authors, along with Nick Herrmann of Mississippi State University, has received notice worldwide. (See this story in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.) The researchers believe the drawings were linked to the spiritual understandings of the people who created them.

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