SOU junior digs his summer plan

Troy Clayton will spend his summer studying prehistoric rock art in Eastern Oregon.

Southern Oregon University junior Troy Clayton will spend his summer in and around the high-desert community of Burns, using archaeological methods to document, photograph and map sites in Eastern Oregon with prehistoric rock art — something of interest to him for several years.

"The interpretation can be really hard. A lot of it is spiritual and was done by shamans," said Clayton, 33.

If you go

What: Southern Oregon Arts and Research (SOAR)

Where: Locations around campus at Southern Oregon University

When: Today through Thursday, May 12-15

Information: 541-552-6816 or

Admission: Free

To prepare for his summer internship, Clayton has been studying research methods used by archaeologists to document Native American rock art. He will showcase his findings during the seventh annual Southern Oregon Arts and Research program at SOU, held today through Thursday, May 15.

Clayton and other students will be available to discuss their research projects during a poster session from noon to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, May 15, in the Rogue River Room at SOU's Stevenson Union.

Other SOAR events include podium presentations, demonstrations, art exhibits and performances. Events are free and open to the public.

Clayton, who is pursuing a degree in anthropology, first took an interest in archaeology while taking anthropology classes in Klamath Falls.

He's also spent a few summers interning with the U.S. Forest Service as an archaeological tech, consulting on projects that might disturb land and affect archaeological sites.

While interning throughout Oregon, Clayton said he's always taken time to investigate any Native American rock art sites nearby.

"I would always keep a special eye out," said Clayton. "It's cool because you can see Native American oral traditions played out."

According to the Oregon Archaeological Society, sites with rock art — any image carved or painted on stone by Native Americans — have been found across Oregon. Some rock art is a few hundred years old, while other images could be from several thousand years ago.

During the summer of 2009, Clayton was able to visit the "Honey Cave" in Lake County. There he saw red ochre pictographs depicting three human-shaped figures.

"The red ochre pictographs are pretty cool — probably one of the most interesting sites that I've been able to visit in my career," said Clayton.

For his internship this summer, Clayton will collaborate with the Bureau of Land Management to visit several sites with rock art in the Eastern Oregon portion of the Great Basin.

His research is being funded in part by a $1,000 grant he received from the Oregon Archaeological Society.

Clayton, a Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program scholar, received an additional $2,800 for the summer through the program.

For more information about SOAR, see

Teresa Ristow is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email her at

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