Biology Reference
In-Depth Information
limestone bluff and under the high rounded ceiling. We looked out on scummy-green
pools and scrubby oaks in the canyon bottom, wondered out loud about hunting with at-
latl and spear on the surrounding, thinly vegetated Edwards Plateau. Then he noted the
shelter's murals, dominated by life-size maroon anthropomorphs (humanlike figures)
with exuberant head ornaments. He explained that they'd been painted with mineral
pigments plus a binding agent from deer bone marrow and an emulsifier from yucca
root. Among dozens of other designs on the curving rock surfaces, although some are
faded or otherwise difficult to identify, a few have defining characteristics. Dark red col-
or half fills a vertical feline and streams from its mouth, as if the cat were losing blood
or perhaps its soul. Near one end of the shallow cave, successively more tilted, S-like
markings terminate in an obvious snake, from whose jaws emanate lines I suppose sig-
nify hissing.
Fate Bell's motifs affected me in the manner of fossils, as windows on the past, and
I couldn't resist visualizing their ancient milieu. The climate was moister and the land-
scape dominated by grasslands instead of desert, so perhaps pronghorn were common,
as they are today a hundred miles to the west. Rock art, however, exerts an emotion-
al allure beyond the primeval, because we know someone very much like us made it.
Soon the shimmering clear skies and absence of modern sounds enhanced my sense
that the shelter had been recently vacated, that instead of several thousand years only
a few days separated the ranger and me from its earlier occupants. Occasional chirps
from grasshoppers penetrated our contemplation, and in the intervening stillness I ima-
gined Archaic people whispering around us, scampering off into the canyon. Under such
circumstances, who couldn't empathize with the creative stretch implied by those an-
thropomorphs and that upended bleeding cat, or feel some timeless unity in our human
search for meaning?
Search WWH ::

Custom Search