Ancient Geoglyphs of the Desert Southwest on Full Display through Aerial Photography
One man’s thirty-five year quest to document the little-known earthen art sites in California and Arizona and preserve fading geoglyphs is recorded in the pages of a new book, Geoglyphs of the Desert Southwest: Earthen Art as Viewed from Above.
San Diego, CA—The deserts of the American southwest contain one of the largest concentrations of geoglyphs outside of Peru’s Nazca Lines. These ancient Native American works of earthen art can be up to hundreds of feet long, and yet are often invisible until viewed from above. Before drones, GPS, or GoogleMaps, photographer Harry Casey began a unique archaeology project. Armed with nothing more than topographic maps, 35mm film cameras, and his beloved Piper J3 Cub aircraft, Casey spent thirty-five years documenting the region’s geoglyphs before natural erosion and human intervention could destroy these fragile sites. A newly published book, Geoglyphs of the Desert Southwest: Earthen Art as Viewed from Above, authored by Harry Casey and Anne Morgan, collects Casey’s photographs into the first visual record of these beautiful and mysterious features.
Geoglyphs of the Desert Southwest, published by Sunbelt Publications, is the first book dedicated to the earthen art of the southwest deserts of the United States. Steven M. Freers, rock art researcher and co-author of Rock Art of the Grand Canyon Region praises the book, “This definitive book is an elegant historical account of the relentless pursuit to document and comprehend one of humankind’s great enigmas as expressed on desert surfaces. It is a gem, an essential addition to anyone’s library where the mysteries of rock art holds special status.”
The eldest of three sons born into a farming family east of Brawley, California, Harry Casey had always been interested in flying, photography, and desert archaeology. These interests led him to take classes from noted archaeologist and historian Jay von Werlhof at the Imperial Valley College in El Centro, California. After many years of flying and photographing, Casey donated his extensive collection of photographs and research to the Imperial Valley Desert Museum, where Anne Morgan was the Head Archivist/Curator. Anne met Harry and his wife, Meg Casey, and what began as an archival project on nearly 10,000 aerial images became a friendship and partnership as she helped edit Harry’s original manuscript into a published book.
A launch party is scheduled for April 13th, 2019 at the Imperial Valley Desert Museum where the project began. Authors Harry Casey and Anne Morgan will be in attendance. The launch party kicks off a week of events in San Diego and Imperial Counties:
- San Diego Natural History Museum on April 14th
- San Diego Rock Art Association on April 14th
- Colorado Desert Archaeology Society on April 19th