Learn about rock art near and far

ST. GEORGE – Two upcoming lectures offer citizens an opportunity to learn about ancient rock art, near and far.

The Southwest Utah’s National Conservation Land Friends will host a free presentation on rock art on Tuesday at 6 p.m. the St. George Library.

Both Australia and the New World were originally colonized by people who brought with them rich spiritual and symbolic systems. These people successfully adapted to major environmental changes, and these adaptations may be reflected in the paintings and engravings they left on cliff faces and on shelter walls. Despite being a world apart, there are a surprising number of parallels in the production, evolution, and context of rock art on the two continents. Viewing rock art with a global perspective highlights both the similarities and the differences of people surviving under similar circumstances. The lecture will investigate the rock art of both continents, focusing on environmental and cultural context, ethnography and current research trends.

Archaeologist and rock art specialist Steven R. Simms will deliver a presentation on April 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the Canyon Community Center in Springdale.

Along with Native American flute music by Carlos Nakai, Simms will discuss the people and culture known as “Fremont.” Named after the Fremont River in central Utah, these ancient farmers were descendants and relatives of both the indigenous hunter-gatherers of Utah and the Puebloan farmers of the southwestern United States. The relative isolation north of the canyons of the Colorado River fostered a distinctive rock art tradition, a specialized form of maize and local expressions of culture.

After the opening presentation, the program turns toward current thinking about the form of Fremont society. More complex than previously thought, many Fremont were heavily invested in farming, had intensified economies, food storage, surplus and shortage. The social consequences included inequality, leadership, collaboration and conflict. These topics are illustrated with current research near Capitol Reef National Park documenting for the first time a complete Fremont irrigation system lost to science since local farmers showed it to Harvard archaeologist Noel Morss in 1928.

Simms is a professor of anthropology at Utah State University. He has done archaeological field work across the U.S. and in the Middle East for over 40 years. Many of his earliest archaeological experiences were at Anasazi and Fremont sites, and he attended the University of Utah Archaeology Field School in 1973 at the large Fremont site, the Evans Mound, under the direction of Jesse D. Jennings. Simms has authored over 100 scientific publications, technical reports and monographs. His book, “Ancient Peoples of the Great Basin and Colorado Plateau,” was published in 2008, and the award winning “Traces of Fremont: Society and Rock Art in Ancient Utah” was published in 2010.

Event details and contact information

Date: April 16 and 18

Time: 6 and 7:30 p.m.

Location: St. George Library and Canyon Community Center

Admission: Free

Contact: sunclf@citizensfordixie.org and 435-772-3434

Submitted by: Southwest Utah’s National Conservation Land Friends and Ron Olroyd

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

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