The deserts of the North American southwest are truly a wondrous place, abundant with life and rich in history and tradition. Despite their harsh conditions, these deserts have been home to and supported a multitude of peoples, long before the arrival of Europeans. The evidence of this past is still alive around us today, and is no more present than in the large works of stamped, earthen art known as geoglyphs. Only truly appreciated when seen from above, the desert southwest is filled with these monumental works that feature everything from abstract lines and shapes to more recognizable human and animal forms. The meaning, stories, and intent behind these amazing pieces are not known, and are not our place to speculate -- only appreciated.
"People are always surprised when I show them photographs of the geoglyphs. They don't think of our desert as having such incredible features. But they are still here. They are reminders that people have been living and thriving in our area for thousands of years and have left their stories -- whether on purpose or not -- for us today." -Anne Morgan
This multi-month project was not only for the sake of good housekeeping: geoglyphs are indigenous, regional, and global treasures. Our desert has the second-largest collection of them in the world, second only to the Nazca lines in Peru. Many are thousands of years old. The greatest threat to their continued existence is human intervention -- off-roading and deliberate vandalism. Documenting decades of photography allows us to cleanly observe changes to sites over time, and to better respond to new and emerging threats, becoming good stewards of the Valley's past.
Now, that legacy is within reach for everyone and not just those with a plane and camera. A new book, continuing in the traditional publications of Jay von Werlhof, is set to be released. Combining the photos of Harry Casey and Museum's research by Anne Morgan, Geoglyphs of the Desert Southwest: Earthen Art as Viewed from Above is the next step in celebrating and promoting the protection of these rare desert wonders. IVDM and the authors will be premiering this new book at a Book Release on Saturday, April 13 from 1pm to 3pm. We hope you can join us!