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May 20, 2022 @ 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Depart from SAR
660 Garcia St
Santa Fe, NM 87505
Amy Schiffer

Mesa Prieta: 7,500 Years of Rock Art

May 20, 2022

Cost per person:
$225 (Includes a $25 non-refundable tax-deductible donation to SAR)

Field trip limited to 14 participants.


Priority is given to members at the Galisteo level and higher.

In 1993 and 1994, a 188-acre private parcel owned by Katherine Wells was recorded by the New Mexico Archaeological Society’s Rock Art Field School led by Jay and Helen Crotty. In 2007, Katherine Wells donated the property to The Archaeological Conservancy and it became known as The Wells Petroglyph Preserve. The Preserve represents the most concentrated area of petroglyphs on Mesa Prieta and is on the National Register of Historic Places and the State Register of Cultural Properties.

Recognizing that the petroglyphs on Mesa Prieta offer an irreplaceable link to the past, an effort to organize a project to survey and record all the petroglyphs on the mesa was initiated in 1999. The organizers of the Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project realized that the preservation of that history was critical to the area’s quality of life.

Join SAR in an exploration of this fascinating site. Our day will begin in SAR’s Dobkin boardroom with a presentation by study leader Chester Liwosz, We’ll then head out to the Mesa Prieta site for docent-led tours. Then it’s on to Peñasco for a delicious lunch at Sugar Nymphs before traveling back to SAR.

Study Leader:

Dr. Chester Liwosz joined the Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project as the Project Archaeologist starting in spring of 2019. He brings with him a solid background in iconography, database management, and geospatial reasoning to build on MPPP’s legacy.  Using currently emerging methods digital archaeology, he is also expanding the scope of research at Mesa Prieta.

Chester began his career in archaeology as a student participant on a long-established archaeological project studying Classic Period settlements of Honduras in 2008.  In 2009, he earned a B.A. with honors in Anthropology from Kenyon College.  He attended the University of California Santa Cruz for graduate school, from which he received his M.A. in Anthropology in 2014. In 2018 Chester was awarded his Ph.D. in Anthropology (archaeology) for his dissertation Benchmarks: Ontological Considerations at Two Mojave Desert Petroglyph Labyrinths, in which he used acoustics, 3D modeling, and indigenous oral traditions to understand the religious implications of petroglyphs, pictographs, and the landscapes they embellish.

Dr. Liwosz’s experiences are diverse, spanning Mesoamerica, the Mojave Desert and Great Basin, and Polynesian Hawai‘i.  He has supported an array of public and non-profit bodies as an archaeologist, including California State Parks, the National Park Service, and the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research.  His current research interests focus on acoustics of rock art landscapes, and archaeological applications of 3D computerized models and virtual reality.


Activity Level: Moderate: Participants must be in good health and able to hike off-trail, over uneven ground with no shade. Sun hats, hiking boots, and walking sticks are encouraged.

Includes: Study leader, transportation, gratuities, water and snacks, and lunch.

COVID-19: In order to ensure your safety and the safety of our staff and study leaders, we ask you to abide by the protocols in place at the time of the trip. SAR guidelines can change based on the CDC and state guidelines. Thank you for your understanding and patience during these unusual times.

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