Respecting Our Past: Using 3D technologies to Preserve Hopi Petroglyph Sites

CyArk recently launched a new project on our website, the Hopi Petroglyph sites of Tutuveni and Dawa Park. This is a particularly interesting project as the 3D scans are being utilized as a point in time record of the site and allowing a new generation of Native American youth to learn about and share the legacy of their ancestors. This has been an incredibly rewarding project for CyArk and we wanted to share it with a wider community.

The main focus of the project is Tutuveni. Tutuveni is an important site along the Hopi pilgrimage route toOngtuvqa, also known as the Grand Canyon. The site lies west of the Hopi Reservation in Arizona, and within the neighboring Navajo Nation. MeaningNewspaper Rockin Hopi, Tutuveni contains 5,000 petroglyphs of Hopi clan symbols and is the largest known collection of clan symbols in the American Southwest. Among Tutuveni’s 150 sandstone boulders are the records of more than 1,000 years of Hopi history and culture.

Considering their age and relatively close proximity to well traveled roads, the Tutuveni petroglyphs survived in a remarkably well-preserved condition into the mid-twentieth century. Unfortunately, in the last few decades, the site has suffered from increasing vandalism, including painting, scratching, and chiseling of petroglyphs.

In an effort to gain support for preserving and protecting Tutuveni, Associate Professor Wesley Bernardini, from University of Redlands, nominated Tutuveni for the 2008 World Monuments Fund Watch List. With the support of World Monuments Fund, CyArk has worked in collaboration with the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office, the Navajo Nation Historic Preservation Department, and the University of Redlands, to digitally preserve Tutuveni and Dawa Park. CyArk was able to digitally capture two sacred Hopi sites. The data captured represents a comprehensive documentation of the site which is being archived at CyArk and made available for future condition assessments and point in time reference.

The collected data was also used to build out a special web portal to share the legacy of the Hopi as told through Tutuveni and Dawa Park. Much of the planning and development of the portal took place during a workshop at the CyArk offices in the summer of 2011. The workshop focused on how best to convey the story of Tutuveni and applicable Hopi history, as well as how to engage visitors to the virtual site in a way that fosters understanding and site stewardship. The resulting portal contains numerous videos, drawings, photos, and 3D point clouds. The collection includes two videos narrated by members of the Hopi Tribe. These are my favorite. They do a great job of showing the history of the site as well as showing the importance of collecting the laser scan data. Additionally, there is an interactive, online educational activity where you can hear both English and Hopi pronunciations of the clan symbols.

Lee Wayne Lomayestewa of the Hopi Cultural Preservation office said of the project, The website marks the culmination of an intense amount of collaboration and commitment to helping preserve the Hopi peoples heritage.