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Friday, February 26, 2010

New Pueblo Grande Museum exhibit to feature eye popping, large-format, ancient rock art photos

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

Pueblo Grande Museum east of Phoenix is set to host a new exhibit, Landscape Legacies: The Art and Archaeology of Perry Mesa opening to the public, Friday, March 5th.

Perry Mesa Rock Art
Photo Credit: Pat Gorraiz

The exhibit, which features eye popping, large format photos of spectacular ancient rock art also includes new research from renown Arizona State University Doctoral Candidate Hoski Schaafsma, who examines the prehistoric agricultural practices on Perry Mesa, located about an hour north of Phoenix.

Perry Mesa and it’s inhabitants have long been the subject of controversy. Discoveries made at the vast archaeological site have led some experts to conclude the indigenous peoples of Perry Mesa may have been much more sophisticated than originally thought.

Valley Photographer, Pat Gorraiz has visited the mesa on countless occasions, compiling a breathtaking collection of rock art photographs, many which will be featured in the exhibit. Gorraizs’ large-format photos suggest a complex and fascinating culture, surrounded by an intensely beautiful, but equally dangerous environment.

While much of the rock art found at Perry Mesa feature traditional native American images, others found at the vast site lean toward the other-worldly. Strange humanoid figures, sporting inexplicable head-dress and other oddities can be found throughout the collection. Paint was later applied to some of the glyphs, although experts disagree on who may have been responsible for the paint, and what the their intentions might have been.

Schaafsma is excited about the progress and cooperation this new study represents. “Those responsible for managing the landscape have allowed a multi-scientific discipline point of view to be brought to bare on this landscape.” States Schaafsma. “Frequently, one scientific community such as the archaeologists will come to the landscape and we will do our work and we’ll all go home and write our own papers. Later on, the ecological community may do research on the same landscape, and go home with their own conclusions. However, because of the foresight of some individuals, a number of diverse agencies, including Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, the Bureau of Land Management and the National Forest Service have come together to study the Perry Mesa landscape”. Mr. Schaafsma has written extensively about the region.

The exhibit opens Friday, March 5th, at the Pueblo Grande Museum, located at: 4619 East Washington Street, in Phoenix. Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park is a National Historic Landmark and is accredited with the American Association of Museums. Visit for further information on this exhibit and other upcoming events at the museum.

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

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