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Archaeological perspectives on rock art lecture by Dr. Mary Ricks


SUBMITTED NEWS RELEASE Archaeologist and rock art scholar Dr. Mary Ricks of Portland, Oregon is the feature speaker for the Frances Humphrey lecture series at the Nevada State Museum from 7:30 to 8:30 pm on Thursday, January 28, 2010.  Dr. Ricks will discuss Archaeological Perspectives on Rock Art, based upon her research in Warner Valley, Oregon. 

Rock art is a common term used to describe images painted on stone (pictographs) or those that have been chipped, abraded, or carved into stone (petroglyphs).  Dr. Ricks’ research, a statistical study of over 100 rock art sites in Warner Valley, challenged earlier theories that rock art was created by an elite religious specialist, such as a shaman, an individual on a vision quest, or male hunters.   Ricks found a strong correlation between rock art sites and places where people lived and worked.  Artifacts such as grinding stones indicate that women worked at these sites and features such as house rings show that people returned to live seasonally at these sites over many years.  One site dates back to the eruption of Mt. Mazama, 7000 years ago.

Dr. Mary Ricks earned both her master’s degree and PhD from Portland State University, with a specialization in archaeology and rock art.  “I’ve been interested in rock art for 35 years,” Ricks explained.  “It all started when Bill Cannon [Curator for Rock Art Perspectives], who was a fellow graduate student at Portland State, invited me to see rock art panels in the Lakeview region of Oregon.  The subject was so fascinating to me that I volunteered with the Bureau of Land Management every summer for 30 years.”

Ricks’ program complements the exhibit, Rock Art Perspectives: Pictographs and Petroglyphs, on display in the Nevada State Museum’s South Changing Gallery through May 1, 2010.  This program is funded by a generous grant from the Bureau of Land Management.  Regular admission fees apply. For more information, contact Deborah Stevenson at 775/687-4810 ext. 237.

Education plays a vital role in protecting rock art and other archaeological sites for the benefit of future generations. 

The Lakeview Oregon District of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) organized and funded the exhibit as part of their education and outreach program.  The Oregon and Nevada BLM and the Nevada Rock Art Foundation are partners with the Nevada State Museum in this exhibit. 

The Nevada State Museum actively engages people in understanding and celebrating Nevada’s natural and cultural heritage.  Exhibits highlight the state’s history, geology, plants and animals, Native American cultural heritage, Historic Carson City Mint, a replica walk-through mine, and ghost town.  Current changing exhibits include Rock Art Perspectives: Petroglyphs and Pictographs, Slot Machines: The Fey Collection and The Art of Nature: Images from the Wildlands of Nevada.  Due to mandatory state budget restrictions, the museum is closed Sunday – Tuesday, and open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, Wednesday – Saturday.  Please enter through the Dema Guinn Concourse. Admission: $6 for adults, $4 for seniors, and free for members and children under 18.  For information, call (775) 687-4810.

The Nevada State Museum is one of seven managed by the state Division of Museums and History, an agency of the Nevada Department of Cultural Affairs. The Department serves Nevada’s citizens and visitors through cultural and information management, presentation and promotion of cultural resources, and education. The Department also includes the State Office of Historic Preservation, Nevada State Library and Archives and the Nevada Arts Council. For more information, please call Teresa Moiola at (775) 687-8323 or visit the department’s website at www.NevadaCulture.org.

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