Prehistoric Paintings

Reproduced in oil paint by Thomas Baker

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Pottery Mound mural showing a council of warriors

Council of Warriors

Reproduction by Thomas Baker of an Anasazi Indian kiva mural unearthed at Pottery Mound, New Mexico

(original approx. 800 years old)

36 X 40 inches, oil paint on plaster-textured wood panel

This painting is available for purchase: $6500 - Contact Thomas Baker

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This print is a reproduction of an ancient Anasazi wall painting (mural) unearthed about forty years ago by archaeologists digging at Pottery Mound in central New Mexico, reconstructed and reproduced from photos and data gathered at the dig site (more information is available at the website The painting shows three figures, presumably warriors (from their armament), with white clouds issuing from their mouths that probably represent speech. The archaeologists who discovered this painting surmised that the painting represents a council of war. The clouds with feathers appear to represent arrows, so that the speakers with feathers issuing from their mouths are probably recommending war.

This was one of the approximately 800-year-old paintings unearthed in the 1960s by archaeologists from the University of New Mexico, digging at a ruin known as Pottery Mound, in central New Mexico, so-called for the great profusion of pottery fragments scattered about the site. The mural had been painted on the plastered wall of what had once been an underground room. After archaeologists sketched and photographed this mural and others, the room was reburied to protect it, since there was no way at that time to remove it or preserve ancient paintings on adobe (mud) plaster. The story of the prehistoric Pottery Mound paintings can be read in the book “Kiva Art of the Anasazi at Pottery Mound,” by Dr. Frank Hibben (the book is out of print, but used copies may be bought from A Web search using the keywords “Pottery Mound, New Mexico” will also provide information.

The original Anasazi painting was fragmentary, and had been damaged by its long burial in the ground, but I reconstructed it (with the approval and assistance of Dr. Frank Hibben, the original director of the dig) from the drawings and photographs made at the dig site. I reproduced it as an oil painting, and this print was made from that painting. In the original mural, the three figures shown in this print were part of a larger scene that featured seated figures of humans alternating with mountain lions. Since the Anasazi were a Stone Age culture with no writing, and thus left no written records, it will never be known for sure what this painting represents, but Dr. Hibben, the Director of the Pottery Mound excavations, wrote of it: “Among the Anasazi the mountain lion was usually associated with the war society, and these figures could be councilors in a council of war.” These three figures are armed with quivers and have feathered arrows issuing from their mouths, so they are presumably voting for war.

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