Current topics in archaeology, cultural heritage & historic preservation

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Breaking News! Second Kennewick Man May Have Been Discovered

In a story eerily like the first Kennewick Man's, a second set of old bones has been found washed out of the bank of the Columbia River near the town of Kennewick, WA. The bones are now housed at the Benton County, WA Coroner's office awaiting transfer to forensic experts in the state capitol at Olympia.

Read more details by clicking below:
Original Story
More info & photos
Seattle PI Story
Tri-City Herald Story

Watch for updates!


Friday, August 21, 2009

Creativity Unleashed!

The Washougal pedestrian tunnel itself is completely engineered and construction is well underway...but what about the Columbia Plateau rock-art-inspired panels that are a major part of its creative design?

Well, I'm here to tell you that the creative energy of the Petroglyph Team's student interns was released BIG-TIME at our most recent meeting.

Each of the Washougal High students on the Team had been chartered by artist Rex Ziak with creating a personal vision of the rock art that would fill the tunnel.

Students Emily Carroll, Kirstin Peterson, Patrick McCarthy, Sarah Walker, Chloe Kilgore, Brian Price, Paige Wade, Chris Norton, and Heather Mattole each prepared a detailed creative plan for the 7 basalt slabs that will line one wall of the tunnel.

I'm not sure what I expected when the assignment was given out...but whatever it was, reality significantly exceeded any expectations I might have dreamed about! You would think that in a group of 9 busy high school students there would be a few creative would be wrong!

Designs (above and below) laid out for review...

These kids, none trained in art as far as I know, each came up with an innovative, creative artistic plan for the tunnel. Honestly I think all the adults in the room, including Rex, were amazed. The deep thought and artistic concepts were inspiring.

Emily Carroll, Brian Price, and Kirsten Walker (above) present their designs.

Patrick McCarthy commands the attention of the audience, including artist Rex Ziak (center left), as he presents his vision for the tunnel's rock art.

Paige Wade, Chris Norton, and Chloe Kilgore explain their designs.

Heather Mattole (left and center below) captures the imaginations of Team members Patrick McCarthy, Paige Wade, Chloe Kilgore, Rix Ziak and Robert David (left to right).

Now the focal point of the artistic process moves to Rex Ziak. He will consider the ideas of the students along with his own creative thoughts and begin to finalize the images that will make this tunnel anything but pedestrian.

Stay tuned...


Saturday, August 15, 2009

"Passage to the Columbia"

...those words capture the City of Washougal's vision for the new pedestrian tunnel that will re-link the core of the city to its waterfront on the Columbia River for the first time in over 40 years.

At the same time the tunnel (location outlined in yellow below) will honor the Indian tribes of the region with a display of important rock art images from across the Columbia Plateau.

When complete the tunnel will burrow under the buzzing traffic on Washington's Highway 14 and open into popular Steamboat Park, whose southern edge extends into the river with a series of popular docks used for fishing and boating.

Walkers who explore the length of the tunnel will find a series of 7 massive native basalt slabs (each weighing approximately 2,800 pounds) engraved with representations of symbols found in Plateau petroglyphs and pictographs.

The City has assembled a group, known as "the Petroglyph Team" to research and identify the images that will eventually grace the tunnel. Lead by artist Rex Ziak (at left with basalt slab) and City manager Nabiel Shawa the team includes students from Washougal High, Councilwoman Molly Coston, Parks Manager Suzanne Bachelder, parent Margaret McCarthy, rock art scholar and Klamath tribal member Robert David, myself and other volunteers.

On Friday, August 14, 2009 the Team visited the stone yard where the basalt slabs are being prepared . We saw a huge rock saw cutting one of our slabs from an enormous crystal of basalt and watched a skilled rock carver demonstrate how the images will be engraved into the surface of the stone.

The Team has looked at hundreds of images and has narrowed the choices down to about 75 finalists, a few of which are included here.

Construction of the tunnel is well underway although the actual slice through Hwy 14 has not yet occurred. Its pretty amazing how much prep work it takes to create something that seems so simple...smoothing the landscape, running utility lines under the street, preparing the surface outside the tunnel for human traffic, and more...all needing to be completed with a minimum of disruption to the traffic streaming by on the highway.

Stay tuned and watch the evolution of the tunnel and its Native American-inspired art...


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Preserved for Over 1000 Years! Range Creek Ranch, Utah

300 archaeological sites, in one 4200 acre area, untouched by man for over 1000 years?

Sounds unlikely, but that's exactly what exists on Range Creek Ranch in a remote part of Utah. Owned and protected by the Wilcox family for generations this incredibly well-preserved piece of history was sold by Waldo Wilcox (pictured below courtesy of Great to the Trust for Public Lands in 2001 and then deeded to the State of Utah.

Native American pithouse villages, granaries high on cliff walls, hundreds rock art images, and seemingly endless scatters of stone tools, beads, and ceramics are spread across the landscape. Credited to the ancient Fremont Culture these artifacts are essentially if the Fremont people had walked away over 1000 years ago, never to return.

In its best episode to date Time Team America spent 3 days working with lead archaeologist, Duncan Metcalfe, of the Utah Museum of Natural History. Just below is a short preview video from Time Team America. (click here to watch the whole Ranch Creek Time Team Episode).

To learn more about Range Creek Ranch and its fascinating story check out...

Secrets of the Range Creek Ranch, Smithsonian Magazine

The Lost World of Range Creek, Great

Secrets of the Lost Canyon, KUED-University of Utah

Range Creek, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources