Painted Walls and Tree-Ring Dates South of the Bears Ears: Results of Five Years of Research by the Cedar Mesa Building Murals Inventory, Documentation, and Dating Project

Category: Time:
Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - 11:45 to 13:00
Room: Speaker:
Benjamin A. Bellorado
David Frank

This presentation presents the results of the Cedar Mesa Building Murals Inventory, Documentation, and Dating Project, a five-year study (2013-2017) of decorated buildings at Ancestral Pueblo cliff-dwellings in southeastern Utah that were occupied in the Pueblo III period (A.D. 1150-1300). The project was focused on (1) documenting the distribution and variability of building murals in the area and to date the contexts in which these rare features occur using dendrochronological (tree-ring dating) techniques; and (2) conducting base-line documentation of cliff-dwellings before they are further impacted by increased visitation, vandalization, and looting. The results of the project indicate that murals were used to express important aspects of social identities related to community, political, and religious identities on local scales in the early A.D. 1200s, but that changes in mural styles after A.D. 1240 reflect broader changes in the political and ritual systems of the larger region. The project was conducted through a partnership with the federal archaeologists at the Monticello Field Office of the BLM, and the University of Arizona School of Anthropology and the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Dating, and was funded by the Canyonlands Natural History Association (2014-2016).