Throughout his long career in archaeology, Larry Loendorf, PhD, has recorded countless images of birds at rock art sites and in painted caves. He has come to the conclusion that the images at such sites often replicate the world view of the culture that created them.
“Peoples and cultures worldwide recognize a tiered universe with multiple layers,” says Loendorf. “The numbers and names vary from group to group, but they include sky, ground, water, underground, and underwater realms.”
At the next Draper Natural History Museum Lunchtime Expedition, Loendorf explores the concept through the images of birds he has seen in painted caves and rock art sites. The free, illustrated talk is titled Bird of Power and takes place in the Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s Coe Auditorium on Thursday, August 2, 12:15 p.m.
Loendorf includes examples from Wyoming’s Dinwoody tradition rock art, in which bird images are common at sites at higher elevation, while pictures of snakes and turtles are found at lower elevation sites. In other places, Loendorf sees the model within the same site, with birds depicted at the top of a panel and snakes at the bottom, or birds on the ceiling, effectively placing them in the sky.
“The presentation,” says Loendorf, “ranges from the painted birds on ‘star ceiling’ sites, to birds that deliver messages from the ground to the sky, to the birds—including mythical ones—that dominate Dinwoody petroglyphs.”
Loendorf earned his BA and MA degrees from the University of Montana, and his PhD from the University of Missouri—Columbia. He taught anthropology and archaeology for more than thirty years, first at the University of North Dakota, and then at New Mexico State University.
After retiring from university teaching and research, Loendorf founded the non-profit Sacred Sites Research, Inc. with his wife, Paula. The company’s primary objective is to protect rock art sites across the American West.
The Draper Natural History Museum organizes the Lunchtime Expedition lecture series, which is supported in part by Sage Creek Ranch and the Nancy-Carroll Draper Foundation. On September 6, the series continues with Holly Copeland, who discusses ways to minimize the impact of wind energy for wildlife.
Contact Bonnie Smith at [email protected] or 307-578-4020 to learn more about the Draper Museum’s natural science programs, or visit centerofthewest.org/explore/greater-yellowstone-natural-history. Explore the Center’s full calendar of events at centerofthewest.org/calendar.
Since 1917, the award-winning Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, has devoted itself to sharing the story of the authentic American West. The Center is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. For more information, visit centerofthewest.org or the Center’s Facebook page. #100YearsMore