Current topics in archaeology, cultural heritage & historic preservation

Friday, June 5, 2009

Visiting Ancient Rock Art in the Columbia River Gorge

Let's take a short video trip to one of the Pacific Northwest's premier rock art sites. This culturally and spiritually important area has been used by native people for thousands of years.

In April of this year I was privileged to accompany Dr. Jim Keyser on a day-trip to photograph the site for possible inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. Located in the Columbia River Gorge, the site (actually many sites in close proximity) holds hundreds of ancient petroglyphs and pictographs and remains very important to the Indian people of the region.

This was a return trip to one of my favorite Northwest places. Over a period of about 5 years beginning in 1998 I worked with Dr. Keyser, tribal members, and many other volunteers to catalog and preserve the extensive body of rock art found in the area.

Almost pristine, the area is closely monitored and watched over by the U.S. Forest Service, Columbia River Intertribal Fisheries Enforcement and a number of other law enforcement agencies. Thanks to the work of the Forest Service and The Trust for Public Lands the site is protected and now belongs to all of us, ownership having been passed to the Forest Service a few years ago.

Following is a short video that I hope will give you a feel for this special place...enjoy the trip!

(Click on the triangle in the center of the screen to start the video. Don't forget to turn on your computer's sound. To watch "full screen" click on the small gray rectangle second from the lower right corner of the video control bar)

You can learn more about this culturally sensitive and important site and the rock art of the Columbia Gorge in a series of books written by Dr. Jim Keyser, myself (Mike Taylor), George Poetschat, and others. Published by The Oregon Archaeological Society Press, you can find them at and at book stores around the Northwest. (All money from sales of the books goes to the non-profit Oregon Archaeological Society).

The books most closely relating to this area are:

- Echoes of the Ancients, Rock Art of The Dalles-Deschutes Region
By James D. Keyser, Michael W. Taylor and George Poetschat

- Visions in the Mist: The Rock Art of Celilo Falls
By James D. Keyser, Michael W. Taylor, George Poetschat, and David A. Kaiser

- Talking With the Past: The Ethnography of Rock Art
By James D. Keyser, George Poetschat, and Michael W. Taylor

Hope you enjoyed the trip!

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