Each week as part of SunLit — The Sun’s literature section — we feature staff recommendations from book stores across Colorado. This week, staff from Out West Books in Grand Junction recommends “Rock Art,” “Spirits of the Stone” and “The Lost World of the Old Ones.”

Rock  Art: A Vision of a Vanishing Cultural Landscape

By Jonathan Bailey
Johnson Books
November 2019


From the publisher: A plea for conservation told through 200 of Jonathan Bailey’s gorgeous photographs and 19 essays written by noted archaeologists, anthropologists, artists, and members of native tribal councils. It highlights the numerous threats facing these sacred places and provides valuable insight into how we can care for this land responsibly.

From Marya at Out West Books: I have a degree in archaeology, which I don’t often use as a bookseller — unless it comes to curating books like Jonathan Bailey’s “Rock Art.”  Yay!  I used my degree! This is more than a coffee table photography book.  Yes, Jonathan’s photography is stunning and includes many lesser known petroglyph and pictograph panels, but it is the essays by writers such as R.E.Burrillo, Greg Child and Fort Lewis professor Andrew Gulliford that make this a book you’ll need to read slowly and digest.

As well as emphasizing protection, which seems like a no-brainer to most of us, the essayists in  “Rock Art” make clear how absolutely priceless these sites are to science, and to history, and how important it is for each of us to understand and protect them.

Spirits of the Stone

By Garry and Ming Adams
Canyon of the Ancients Guest Ranch 

To purchase contact Out West Books

From the publisher: This book is a tribute to ancient artists and their creations in stone. These magical images continue to mystify and inspire us with their power and beauty. We hope this book will promote more of an awareness of the unique treasures the ancients left behind and help us understand the importance of preserving their legacy. 

From Marya at Out West Books: This IS a coffee-table book.  Filled with gorgeous photographs of pictographs, petroglyphs, ruins and canyons from southwestern Colorado and eastern Utah, this book is in and of itself an appeal for conservation.  Gary and Ming Adams own the Canyon of the Ancients Guest Ranch in McElmo Canyon near Cortez and that strategically places them in the heart of the ancient artistry of the Colorado Plateau.  Their love of the area and its ancient wonders shines through this beautiful visual gallery of places worth protecting. 

The Lost World of the Old Ones: Discoveries in the Ancient Southwest

By David Roberts
W.W. Norton
April 2016


From the publisher: In this thrilling story of intellectual and archaeological discovery, David Roberts recounts his last twenty years of far-flung exploits in search of spectacular prehistoric ruins and rock art panels known to very few modern travelers. His adventures range across Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and southwestern Colorado, and illuminate the mysteries of the Ancestral Puebloans and their contemporary neighbors the Mogollon and Fremont, as well as of the more recent Navajo and Comanche.

From Marya at Out West Books: David Roberts’ Lost World of the Old Ones and its companion book, “In Search of the Old Ones: Exploring the Anasazi World of the Southwest,” are favorite books here at the store. In “Lost World,” David explores a more recent approach to the science, emphasizing that archaeology is not about “things,” artifacts dug up in excavations, because the archaeology of things is the archaeology of loss. It seems true that as soon as something is “discovered,” it disappears or is vandalized.  The desecration of tombs in Egypt is a great example. A personal example would be: hiking in what is now Bear’s Ears in the early 1980s, I could hardly walk without stepping on pot shards. Now the shards are few and far between.

 In part, this book is about David accompanying the Utah Museum of Natural History archaeologists as they surveyed Range Creek soon after rancher Waldo Wilcox deeded the canyon, hardly touched by modern man, to them. It’s also about so much more than artifacts and ruins. Roberts spends some time with Stephen Lekson, professor at CSU, and his Chaco Meridian theory. I love this book full of its larger than life characters and thought provoking premises. Excavate an artifact?  Leave that arrowhead in situ? How DID that blanket end up in the Telluride museum?


Out West Books

533 Main St., Grand Junction


As part of The Colorado Sun’s literature section — SunLit — we’re featuring staff picks from book stores across the state. Read more.

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