Mind-Altering Rock Art

Science News, July 20, 1996 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Mind-Altering Rock Art


Drawings on the walls of rock shelters along the Pecos River, near the Texas-Mexico border, depict scenes containing human figures, animals, and various shapes and symbols of uncertain meaning. These images portray ancient shamans performing rituals that were intended to forge connections to the spirit world, according to a number of researchers.

A new analysis of plant remains at Pecos River sites, informed by ethnographic accounts of Indian groups in that region, now imbues this ancient art gallery with a hallucinogenic glow. In many of the scenes, the shamans are surrounded by jimson weed and peyote, consciousness-altering substances that have been found in Pecos River rock shelters dating to at least 4,000 years ago, assert Carolyn E. Boyd and J. Philip Dering, both of Texas A&M University in College Station.

"We have evidence in the archaeological sediments and in the art indicating great antiquity for the use of two powerful psychoactive plants [by shamans]," Boyd and Dering conclude in the June Antiquity.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Mind-Altering Rock Art
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?