Spectacular Comanche Gap

This Trip is Sold Out Guided by Dr. Polly Schaafsma

Field Trip

Friday, September 17, 2010, 9:00 am–2:30 pm

Katsina, Comanche GapKatsina, Comanche GapPhotograph courtesy Polly SchaafsmaKatsina, Comanche GapPhotograph courtesy Polly Schaafsma

Noted archaeologist Dr. Polly Schaafsma will be our outstanding guide on this adventure into the Galisteo Basin. She is a rock art scholar who has written numerous books about the rock art of New Mexico and Utah and calls Comanche Gap a “magical place bristling with protective powers.” This trip is a unique opportunity to view a spectacular geologic and cultural site on the private San Cristóbal Ranch with one of the experts in Southwestern rock art.

The rocky surfaces of high volcanic dikes in the Galisteo Basin are home to thousands of images pecked into the black basalt several hundred years ago by Ancestral Pueblo people. Several million years earlier, lava squeezed through fissures in the earth’s surface, cooling slowly beneath layers of sediments. As the softer sediments gradually eroded, the resistant basalt remained, leaving the long, dark ridges that mark the Galisteo Basin landscape today. Of these outcrops, the Comanche Gap dike is the most dramatic.

The Rio Grande Style petroglyphs on the Comanche Gap dike were made by Tano people who lived in large neighboring pueblos between roughly AD 1325 and 1680. The part of the dike we will visit is known for its wealth of images pertaining to Pueblo warfare. Elements include shields, shield-bearing warriors, katsinas, predatory birds and animals, as well as Morning Star deities. These war-related images embody complex metaphorical concepts related to Pueblo cosmology and rain-making tied to the agricultural cycle. The iconography at Comanche Gap and in contemporary art elsewhere indicates that war societies were well developed in Rio Grande Pueblos prior to European contact.

Activity Level: Very Strenuous, participants must be in excellent health and capable of scrambling off-trail along this elevated rocky ridge. Please do not register unless you are physically fit and active.

Cost: Per person, $80, includes transportation, picnic lunch, and guide honorarium.

Trip Registration: Participation in SAR field trips is one of the benefits of membership. To make registration equitable, we will begin accepting trip reservations Thursday, April 8, 2010, 8am to 5pm, for our Summer 2010 field trips. Beginning on that day, please call the SAR Membership Office at (505) 954-7203 to register or to receive additional information about any of these trips. Group size is limited. Reserve your space early.

For more information, visit the Field Trips section.

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