Marja-Leena Rathje
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Adriel Heisey desert photos


After blogging about cuneiforms last week, I happened to go its source, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia. I noticed this announcement: "FROM ABOVE: IMAGES OF A STORIED LAND,"Adriel Heisey's Aerial Photographs of the American Southwest Desert Offer a Unique Look at Ancient and Modern Landscapes. It looks like a fascinating exhibition, on until October 2, 2005, so if you are in Philadelphia...

"Chaco Canyon, Casas Grandes, and the Aztec Ruins National Monument are among the places photographed by Adriel Heisey, whose dramatic pictures are captured from a unique vantage point: his homebuilt, one-man, ultra-light airplane.[...] Heisey's photographs offer viewers an uncommon opportunity to explore the complicated, curious, and often breathtaking patterns that people have imposed on the land over the years. The ruins of living structures and ritual facilities, remnants of roads, dry rivers and canals, and images carved into desert gravels that are featured in these images carry a wealth of information about how past generations of humans have pursued their basic needs. They mark important transitions such as the move from the migratory life of the hunter/gatherer to the more sedentary village life of early farmers and traders. At the same time, there is a juxtaposition of modern elements - new homes, cars, highways, fences, power lines, and even footprints - that remind the viewer of the unceasing nature of change and the ongoing impact of human interaction with the earth."

Disappointed that the museum website only features one image, I've been doing a bit of virtual exploring to learn more about Adriel Heisey. There's an exhibition catalogue available, and National Geographic also has an article, photos and videos by Heisey on an earlier project, but not too many photos of this exhibition that I could find.

Inspired by the long list of sites photographed by Heisey, I went exploring and found many riches. Here are a few: Ancient Observatories: Chaco Canyon, Casas Grandes, which is also on the World Heritage List, and Aztec Ruins National Monument.


unavida.jpg

Una Vida petroglyphs - from Chaco Culture National Historical Park

The American Southwest is an area I've never been to, but has numerous fascinating natural and manmade features that I dream of visiting and photographing myself one day, now re-inspired by Heisey. Hmm, I wonder why most archaeological sites seem to be in hot, dry places? (I'm heat intolerant.)

Update August 7.05: Here's a review Art/Air Show by Edward J. Sozanski including a mention of a slide show of some of Heisey's work.

Marja-Leena | 02/08/2005 | 2 comments
themes: Photography, Rock Art & Archaeology


2 comments

One reason: heat and aridity preserve artifacts, ruins. You should visit the desert southwest! I think you would really appreciate it. But go in winter when it's cooler. We went to Arizona in August a few years ago. When we landed in Phoenix, it was 116 degrees. My youngest was confusing the words "Phoenix" and "Venus", which seemed appropriate. "Look, mommy," out the window of the airplane, "it's Venus!"

Amy, you are right about aridity preserving - did you hear of the mummies found in the sand of the Peruvian coast? Yet there are many petroglyphs, standing stones, etc, in the northern areas of the world too.

There are so many places in the world, arid places, where I'd love to go see archaeogical sites - Petra, Egypt, Us southwest, Mexico - just time and money and free winters!