Texas Rock Art Speaks
The stylized red dots identified by Texas State University archaeologist Carolyn Boyd as representing speech-breath in Pecos River Style rock art were rendered in a number of different forms. Some dots issue from the mouths of figures as thick streams of speech-breath, others as large, distinct circles. Some figures seem to direct speech-breath at other human-like forms, perhaps depicting efforts to energize or support them. Others seem to be talking with each other or singing together. The exact meaning of each instance of speech-breath may never be understood, but the photographs and drawings of Pecos River Style figures below leave no doubt that the artists creating them imagined their subjects speaking, singing, debating, and perhaps even bellowing—breaking the stillness of the canyon lands of what is now southwest Texas. All photos are courtesy Shumla Archaeological Research & Education Center and all drawings are courtesy Carolyn Boyd. To explore Boyd’s work in more depth, go to “Reading the White Shaman Mural.” Her article describing speech-breath in Pecos River Style rock art is available in its entirety at Latin American Antiquity.