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Lewis Canyon Petroglyph Site by Mark Willis

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About This Gigapan

Taken by
Mark Willis Mark Willis
Explore score
35.32 Gigapixels
Date added
Aug 04, 2013
Date taken
Jul 13, 2013

To get started, click the "snapshots" icon in the lower left. Next, click one of the thumbnails that appears across the bottom. You can zoom in and out of the landscape and hundreds of petroglyphs are present.
Lewis Canyon Petroglyph Site is located in the Lower Pecos Region of Texas. The site is situated on a nearly flat stretch of limestone bedrock located adjacent to a steep walled canyon. Hundreds or maybe thousands of prehistoric petroglyphs were carved into the rock. Some of the designs appear to resemble atl atls (a dart throwing weapon), human-like figures, animals, and animal tracks but the most common elements are abstract circles, lines, and dots.


A revolutionary technique was used to map the site so it can be seen as a single Gigapan (what you see on this website). A group of five archaeologists walked a series of transects across the site holding a Canon digital SLR camera on the end of painter’s pole, taking photos straight down at about every 2.5 meters across the entire site. The surface of the sites is more than 175 meters (~600 feet) east/west by 160 meters north/south (~525 feet). A total of 2,400 hundred images were used to create this mosaic. If you look closely, you will notice that the eastern half of the site was photographed at dusk on one day and the western half after dawn on the next day. This was done to capture the petroglyphs with the strongest shadows possible and from the best angle that the two sides of the site required.


All of the photographs were then mosaicked using an advanced photogrammetric technique and then exported into a GIS. Once in the GIS, the data was further enhanced and turned into a huge single image of about 135 gigabytes in size. This was down sampled so that there is 1 pixel in the Gigapan for every millimeter of ground surface. It was then possible to upload the image to Gigapan.com for others to examine.


Archaeologists have been drawn to the site since it was discovered. A number of well-known rock art researchers, artists, and archaeologist have studied the petroglyphs including Forrest Kirkland, A.T. Jackson, Solveig Turpin, and Jim Zintgraff. We hope our documentation will help others better understand this amazing resource.


I would like to thank Amanda Castañeda, Jeremy Freeman, Charles Koenig, and Vicky Muñoz of the Shumla Archeological Research & Education Center for helping me with the photography. It was extremely hot and the “Night of the Mosquitoes” will not soon be forgotten! We also could not have done the work without the hospitality of the landowners (name intentionally not given) and thank them deeply for their stewardship of this Texas treasure. Finally, if you would like to learn more about this site or visit it, the Rock Art Foundation can help (www.rockart.org Will open in a new tab or window).

Copyright (c) Mark Willis and The Shumla School, Inc. 2013. All rights reserved. No part of this information and imagery may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Mark Willis ( willis.arch[at]gmail ) or Shumla.

Gigapan Comments (2)

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  1. Mark Willis

    Mark Willis (September 28, 2013, 09:22PM )

    Hi Tim, it by far exceeds what you can do via kite, MikroKopter, or fixed wing when you need this sort of resolution. I first visited this site and KAPed it several years ago. I was never happy with that work. It's all about the sensor and the proximity to the ground. By the way, I have and regularly use kopters, fixed wing drones, and kites for aerial photography. Each tool has its place.

  2. Tim Brown

    Tim Brown (September 28, 2013, 09:04PM )

    Nice work. Very interesting use of gigapaning. Does this method provide better resolution (per time and cost input) than using a quadcopter or similar aerial platform?

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