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Kevin L. Callahan's Website

Archaeology, Rock Art, Human Origins, and other Ancient Knowledge.


If you would like to hear an audio message from me Click here. (If you have a .wav player it will start to play automatically in about 20 seconds)
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Demonstrating the atlatl.
For a 10 second Quicktime movie (.mov) of me throwing a dart with an atlatl (200k in size) click here or for a better 307k .mov file Click here. This requires a Quicktime viewer.

Welcome to my Home Page. I am a graduate student in the Anthropology Department at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota. My primary area of interest is in archaeology. My M.A. was written regarding the relationship between shamanism and rock art in Minnesota. I am presently working on my Ph.D. and I am interested in a Neolithic period rock art site in Argyll, Scotland. I have done field work in Minnesota, North Dakota, Hawaii, and Scotland. I have 5 articles up at the Upper Midwest Rock Art Research Association (UMRARA) website and one article up at the online rock art bulletin called Tracce. I was in the Star Tribune on May 10, 1998 in an article called "Dreams underfoot: Jeffers Petroglyphs is page of state's ancient history " by Chris Welsch. Click here for a Flash animation regarding my new book The Jeffers Petroglyphs: Native American Rock Art on the Midwestern Plains. recently published by Prairie Smoke Press. I am also a trial lawyer and I am currently at the University of Minnesota and have taught Anthropology 1101 Human Origins and a Compleat Scholar course on rock art around the world. I have been the President of the Minnesota Society of the Archaeological Institute of America (MN-AIA) which sponsors 6 public lectures every year on archaeological topics at the Minneapolis Institute Of Art. As anyone who knows me is aware, I also have an interest in the folklore surrounding the human hand. I also like to travel and have been to over 30 countries and all 50 states.

I have a website on Ancient Mesoamerican Civilizations as well as an anthropology website on the topic of Human Origins, a website on The Archaeology of North America, and one on English Composition.

Here are a few things that I have written on Rock Art and related topics:

Pica, Geophagy, and Rock Art (April 8, 2000 SAA Philadelphia Conference Paper)

If you have an Acrobat Reader (free from

The Dakota at Mille Lacs: Archaeology, Historical Sources, and Oral Traditions from the Early Contact Period (.pdf file)

The Jeffers Petroglyphs (.pdf file)

Shamanism, Dream Symbolism, and Altered States of Consciousness in Minnesota Rock Art: Ethnohistorical Accounts Regarding Pipestone, Jeffers, and Nett Lake (My M.A. Thesis in a 2.9 MB Adobe Acrobat .pdf file format. Due to its size it is probably best to save the file and open it with an Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Ethnographic Analogy and the Folklore of Cup and Ring Rock Art (.pdf file)

Ancient Minnesota : archaeology and prehistory (a Power Point slide show)

Minnesota Rock Art (An introduction)

The naming of Minnesota: "Mine Soto," white clay, and the Dakota water spirit

Common Symbols and Motifs in Minnesota Rock Art (photos and ethnohistoric information)

Shamanism and Rock Art in Minnesota (article)

An Introduction to Ojibwa Culture and History

An Introduction to Dakota Culture and History

The Nett Lake Petroglyph Site (article and photos)

Spirit Island, Mille Lacs, Minnesota: The boulder island that moves

The Dakota at Mille Lacs in the Early Contact Period

The Pipestone Petroglyphs (a slide show)

96 Current and Historic Photos of the Pipestone Petroglyphs (and some Jeffers Photos) taken 7/24/98

The Fort Ransom Writing Rock (A lengthy field report with photos)

Theodore H. Lewis and Alfred J. Hill (early Minnesota archaeologists)

T.H. Lewis' Field Methods for Tracing Petroglyphs

The Aborigines of Minnesota by Newton H. Winchell, 1911 (Excerpts and Illustrations of rock art from the book)

My 1999 SAA Paper on Minnesota's Red Rock and other sacred boulders of the Upper Midwest

Minnesota's Sacred Red Rock Boulder

Alan Woolworth's article on the history of Carver's Cave, St. Paul, MN

Dakota Religion and Sacred Boulders

Eden Prairie's Sacred Painted Red Rock

Petroglyph Boulders and Sacred Stones of the Upper Midwest

The Cupmarked Boulders at Blood Run, Iowa

The Lester Prairie Boulder

Inyan Ce'-ki-ya: The Sand Creek Dakota Prayer Stone

The Thunderbird Petroglyphs of the Upper Midwest

Distribution Maps of Inscribed and Painted Boulders of the Upper Midwest and North America

Cupmarks, Kaolin, and Native American Medicine

Lithic and Copper Projectile Points and Minnesota Rock Art (article and photos)

The Lunate Form in Upper Midwestern Rock Art

Atlatls or Spearthrowers in Prehistoric Minnesota (article and photos)

How to throw a spear with an atlatl (photos)

Atlatl Rock Petroglyphs, Valley of Fire, Nevada

An Atlatl at the Chicago Museum of Natural History

A Virtual Tour of The Mammoth Site (Hot Springs, SD - KLC's 25 photo slide show)

The Mammoth, Clovis and Atlatl Page

The Minnesota Field Archaeology Act of 1963 (Minn. Stat. sec. 138)

The Private Cemetaries Act (Minn. Stat. sec. 307)

Rock Art and Lilliputian Hallucinations

An outline of Utah Rock Art: style, speaking with light, and symbolic solar interactions

A Glossary of Rock Art Terms

On Archaeological Writing: Heroes, Journeys, and Rock Art

Upper Paleolithic Cave Paintings(Article by Kevin Callahan)

What's Happening in International Rock Art Studies

Current Trends in Archaeological Theory (Chapter 1)

Current Trends in Rock Art Theory (Chapter 2)

References (bibliography/citations)

The Jeffers Petroglyphs: 27 Frequently Asked Questions and 25 Common Symbols and Motifs

The Portrayal of Weapons at the Jeffers Petroglyphs (Power Point Slide Show)

How to get to the Jeffers Petroglyphs & Pipestone National Monument

Jeffers Petroglyphs Photo Album I (over 80 photographs with thumbnails - which therefore may take awhile to load)

12 Jeffers Petroglyphs Photos

The Jeffers Petroglyphs Photo Album III

The Achnabreck Rock Art Site Photo Album

Daily Life in Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Scotland

Ethnography and Folklore regarding Cup and Ring Rock Art

Stonehenge, Parthenon, Egyptian Pyramids, Catalhoyuk, Maya Temple, Cahokia Mounds and Ziggurat of Ur 3D Animations and Archaeological Reconstructions My Quicktime Movies (.mov files). This requires a Quicktime Player.

Mission to Saturn 2054 AD 3D Computer animation (2 MB Quicktime movie)

Mission to Saturn 2054 AD Wallpaper and Still Shots

Local archaeology organizations

La Moille Cave Art Reconstruction, Winona MN, by Deborah Schoenholz (c)1996

Information on the Wilford Archaeological Laboratory at the U of M.

The Interdisciplinary Archaeological Studies (IAS) Program (Ford Hall)

1997 Field Notes: Caving for Petroglyphs with Zak Johnson, Laura McIlrath, and Derek Lee in Dakota County, MN

1997 Field Notes: Searching for Petroglyphs with Charlie Bailey, Derek Lee, and Jason R. in Wabasha County,MN

1998 Field Notes: Searching for T. H. Lewis' West Indian Creek Cave with Deborah Morse-Kahn, Charlie Bailey, Delmar Becker, and Amy Becker

1998 Field Notes: Caving for Petroglyphs at Kruger Cave 8/8/98

1997 Field Notes: A Visit to Newport, Minnesota's Sacred Red Rock Boulder

Index and Links to Archaeology Faculty and Graduate Students at the University of Minnesota

Information regarding the Department of Anthropology, University of Minnesota

Why Rock Art is important:

I find it frustrating sometimes that the study of rock art is often not recognized as a true subdiscipline of archaeology. As an area of study, I consider it very important to the reconstruction of past human cognition, rituals, religion, aesthetics, social organization, fauna, and environment.

I see myself in the middle of a continuum between two extreme viewpoints, both of which need to be actively resisted. On one extreme are some anthropologically ignorant "professional" archaeologists who are often cynical, apathetic, or downright hostile to the study of rock art (as if it would disappear as an archaeological artifact simply because they are uninterested in it). They often do not understand the profound religious reasons behind much of it, are ethnocentric in their approach to it, and ignorantly dismiss it as "graffitti," thus making a false ethnocentric analogy from our own culture to cultures of the past that they have no understanding of. Their ignorance is often a source of frustration.

The other extreme view results directly from the vacuum that is left when these archaeologists abandon the field to amateurs. In case after case, some members of the general public, (which as a whole is immensely interested in rock art, perhaps because it is so immediately and visually accessible), will step into that vacuum and formulate totally non-anthropological explanations divorcing the rock art from the people who really made it. Everyone from aliens to Vikings will be suggested as makers of North American rock art and the people and cultures that lived here and made it are frequently the first to be forgotten. This approach, is the anti-thesis of anthropology.

The theoretical approach to rock art developed by David Lewis-Williams, David S. Whitley and many others, is arguably well ahead of the discipline of archaeology as a whole and incorporates the study of ethnohistory, relevant common biological phenomena studied by experimental medical science, and an understanding of the "artifacts" themselves. I have written about these topics in many of the articles listed above.

The conclusion of rock art experts can have an important and immediate impact on public policy decisions in many countries, such as in Portugal recently, where a dam project in the Coa Valley was stopped because it would have flooded major open air rock art sites probably from the Upper Paleolithic.

This is an interesting time for international rock art studies because of the large number of important finds such as at Cosquer cave and Chauvet cave in France.

In addition to the finding of new rock art, the interpretation of rock art requires researching ethnographic and historic sources of information. Fortunately, Minnesota is unusually rich in ethnohistoric sources thanks to some major work in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Some of the rock art here probably dates to the Archaic period and may be 5000 years old (older than the Egyptian pyramids).

One of the other appealing aspects of rock art is that it is a form of archaeology intimately tied to the larger landscape, and the experience of stone and massive bedrock in natural settings. There is a tactile aspect of rock art, although a petroglyph should never be directly touched because it can impact future dating of the petroglyph. The visual directness of rock art and the ambiguity often associated with the meaning of the rock art make it mysterious - but a mystery that has left a lot of clues. There is also an aspect of experimental archaeology to the study of rock art since measurement, weathering rates, and reconstruction of the techniques and methods of the rock artists can be a very informative exercise. Rock art is also often the only "mark" on the world left by the minds of people before the invention of other writing systems. Although we were probably not the audience imagined for most rock art, in some cases it was consciously intended to be seen by public passersby and communicate something. In other cases rock art appears to be more related to secret and private things which were not necessarily intended for us to understand.

Links to other sites on the Web

Upper Midwest Rock Art Research Association
Cup and Rings (Excellent site from Britain by Graeme C.)
Over 700 rock art links
My brother Shawn's website
The First Callahan: Ceallachan of Cashel, Ireland, 10th Century AD (Geneaology and Ancestry including his Medieval Irish Saga)
Two Viking Swords
Arch Net archaeology links

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Click below to listen to the following McNeil Lehrer Newshour, National Public Radio, and Minnesota Public Radio stories:
The Kennewick Man discovery and the controversy over Who Owns the Past
Rick Potts discusses the distinguished career of the late Mary Leakey
Physical Anthropologist Rick Potts discusses the overlap between 3 Hominid species including Neandertals and Homo sapiens
NPR's The Leakey Legacy(48 minutes long)
The Genetics of Complex Traits
How and Why New Species Form
Human Origins Update(1 hour 41 minutes long)
Origins of Language(51 minutes)
Genetics Update(1 hour 38 minutes long)

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Minnesota Anthropologist Frances Densmore's story of "The Sun Dance"
An Early Wax Cylinder RecordingOne of Frances Densmore's early 20th century wax recordings of the Native American song "The Poor are Many"
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Homo habilis, A. africanus, Homo erectus (Java), Homo sapiens neandertalensis, Homo erectus (China), Homo sapiens sapiens



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