Journalist, artist, photographer for National Geographic Magazine. Most recently founder of the Ancient Art Archive
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Work commute. Packing gear out of an unnamed cave. I've spent much of the winter making a 3d model of artwork on the ceiling of a cave for @ancientartarchive. It's a spectacular place and I wrapped up shooting today. I will miss working in this beautiful valley. @frontrunneroutfitters @rcioffroad
A number of years ago I had the privilege of working with Dirk Hoffman and Alistair Pike as they pushed the boundaries of science to discover that humans had made paintings in caves far earlier than was understood. This week I am floored but not surprised to find that they have again rolled back the dates for creativity. In a paper published this week in Science Hoffman and Pike announce their findings from caves in Spain that the oldest paintings in the world are 65,000 years old. That is 25,000 years older that was previously believed and comes from a time well before modern humans reached Europe. That is amazing! Another species made art. Not before us -the first evidence of paint production is more than 100,000 years ago from Southern Africa and is definitively Human- but at the same time as us.
Rapa Nui (Easter Island) is known for its fabulous statues. But it is also a wonderfully beautiful landscape. The island is so isolated. Just a spec in the vast Pacific Ocean. Looking South, you really get the feeling that there isn't anything between you and Antartica. #easterisland #rapanui
Hand prints on BLM land in Southern Utah. If one symbol could sum up all of humanity it might be the negative handprint. I've seen them across the world, on 6 of 7 continents. They may well be the first form of indivudual human expression. They are so unique and individual that I think of them as the original selfie.
@salvarezphoto working in an the Cherokee Syllabary chamber of an unnamed cave in the Southeast. Photo by @alancressler
The Cherokee were the only Native American group to have a written language. It was developed by Sequoyah in the early 1800s. In the years immediately after adoption 80% of the Cherokee population became literate. That is a literacy rate that the US has barely beaten today. Some of the first examples of Syllabary are preserved inside caves in the Cherokee homeland along what is now the I-59 corridor on the Georgia-Alabama state lines. The Ancient Art Archive @ancientartarchive has been working with the SCCi to build a 3D model of this particular chamber. Our hope is that the model will serve as the basis for a VR experience that will let disparate members of the Cherokee Nations virtually visit this place and see the words that their ancestors wrote on this cave wall. The cave has been heavily visited in the past and modern graffiti covers the earlier Cherokee writing. After building the 3D model the Ancient Art Archive will digitally remove the modern graffiti to restore the chamber to how the Cherokee left it in the early 1800s. The cave is owned and administered by the Southeastern Cave Conservancy. With the help of the Cherokee Nation they have gated this chamber to protect the writing. The SCCi has also given the Ancient Art Archive an initial grant to begin the modeling. @scci_caves
At 586 feet deep Fantastic Pit is the deepest freefall shaft in the lower 48 United States. It augers through Pigeon Mountain like a railway tunnel turned on end. I was reminded of this photo recently while at an @ancientartarchive presentation given on a friends farm at the foot of Pigeon Mountain. Thank you to the Cofers for hosting us and to all who came to hear about what the @ancientartarchive is doing to explore and preserve humanity's first stories. #cave #georgia #explore
179 human like figures span the length of the Procession Panel, San Juan County Utah.
I've gotten word that @natgeo has awarded a grant to help me continue this work. I'm honored. Even though I have published over a dozen feature stories in NGM this is my first grant. I can't wait to get into the field. #bearsears #maya #redshift3d
The milky way spreads out across the night sky over the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa. The Drakensburg range makes up the eastern part of the great escarpment of the central African Plateau. Its a fabulous place.There is nothing like an African night sky to remind me of how big the world is. #za #southafrica #night #stars
Jim Hewett near the bottom of Close to the Edge. After enlarging the constriction at 255 meters the 3 of us pushed the cave downward to 430 meters deep. Jim and I were waiting for Neeld to check the final lead and confirm we could go no deeper when I shot this portrait. We then began the arduous job of de-rigging our ropes and hauling them to the surface. #explore #cave #canada
Neeld Messler makes his way through a constriction at the bottom of the 255 meter deep entrance shaft. This is the crack we widened to allow us to barely squeeze through. I remember it taking almost 45 minutes to squeeze and shimmy down this head sized slot. On my first trip through a rock came tumbling down the passage while I was wedged inside. I couldn't move my head and could only watch it fall straight toward me. The rock broke the bridge of my nose but we still pushed the cave downward. #explore #britishcolumbia
Close to the Edge, Canada a Facebook post this morning reminded me of one of my first expeditions. Close to the Edge is a huge pit in the Canadian Rockies. Remote, cold, dangerous, it's entrance shaft is 255 meters deep. I was part of a 3 man crew that enlarged a blockage at the bottom of the cave and pushed downward to -430 meters. I remember riding south after the trip, crunching survey data in the back of a greyhound bus and calling friends from a payphone in Wyoming to announce we had explored what was the the second deepest cave in Canada. #throwbackthursday #britishcolumbia #explore