Archaeology


At one time the landscape of the Twistflower Ranch played home to a prehistoric and native culture. Its life-giving creeks and bountiful game species no doubt provided vital resources to those who came before. Today, echos of this ancient past still remain in the form of 2,000 year old pictographs, rock shelters, and chert points believed to be over 8,000 years old.

Lost Canyon West Shelter is a rockshelter located at the head of a small drainage near the top of the bluff and is accessible from the uplands. An active spring with incised lines and three large mortar holes sits approximately 26 meters below the site, easily found by climbing down the drainage. Two additional rockshelters are found at this level: The west shelter containing the spring and the east shelter with shallow deposits that is used as an animal den. In addition to the rock shelters, there is a large lithic scatter, including chipped stone tools and point fragments, located on the mesa top near the ranch road above the shelters.

There are two panels of rock art at this site. Panel 1 is the best preserved rock art are fine line black paintings on the lower portion of the shelter wall. The shelter also contains bits of dark red paint, as well as a less intense red paint areas found on the slanted ceiling. Most of the red paintings are remnants that can no longer be discerned except for a few long lines. The fine line black paintings consist of 4 concentric circle or spiral motifs/groupings, horizontal zig zag lines, and a line with V‐ shapes along its length (plant or feather like). Some figures have scratch marks along the length of their lines as post‐painting modification. The fine line execution is reminiscent of Red Linear found in Val Verde county, but there are no characteristic anthropomorphs or zoomorphs or hunting scenes to make us suspect that this unknown style is related. The second panel of rock art consists of a series of deeply incised grooves located in the lower shelter with the spring.

Interested in learning even more about our prehistoric past? Explore tangible traces of an amazing history and learn to view the resources around you in an entirely new way with our archaeology-themed weekend.


Lost Canyon West Shelter

View of the interior of Lost Canyon West Shelter looking east. The pictographs (not visible) are located on the shelter wall and ceiling. (Image courtesey of Shumla)

Spring-side Petroglyphs

Panel 2 groove marks with evidence of the spring on the far right of the photo. (Image courtesey of Shumla)


Images shown below represent how our prehistoric rock art appears to the naked eye. Click on or place your cursor over the images below to view more details of our rock art via digitally enchanced photographs. (Images courtesey of Shumla Archaeological Research & Education Center)