Fate Bell Shelter is located in Seminole Canyon State Historical Park. The shelter, which is a state archeological landmark, was named after Mrs. Fate Bell, who owned the land that the shelter occupies. Fate Bell Shelter is a deeply stratified rock shelter containing evidence of over 8,000 years of occupation, from the Archaic Period to the Late Prehistoric Period (ca. 7000 B.C. to A.D. 1500).
Fate Bell Shelter is best known for its pictographs, which are among the best documented and best preserved of the Pecos River style. This style, which may date between three and four thousand years before the present, is generally considered the oldest of the types found in the Lower Pecos area. This would place the art in the middle Archaic period. The Pecos River style is a polychrome style that is considered a manifestation of the shaman cult. The central characters of the pictographs are faceless anthropomorphic figures, elaborately dressed and often holding a variety of accessories such as atlatls, darts, and fending sticks. The figures are often depicted with their arms outstretched, and in later pictographs the shamans' arms are increasingly stylized and seem to be more akin to wings than arms. At one end of the shelter there are also examples of Red Linear figures-a Late Archaic Period style characterized by very small stick figures engaged in various activities.
When acquired by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the rock art was documented in detail using stereophotogrammetric methods, regular photography, and artistic renderings. These and original drawings and watercolors are now maintained at the Texas Memorial Museum in Austin.
- Texas State Historical Association, New Handbook of Texas
As part of Seminole Canyon State Historical Park, the site is open to the public on a limited basis. No hiking is allowed in the canyon area without a guide.
Admission: Entrance Fee: Adults, 13+, $2.00; Seniors, $1.00
Hours: Varied for hiking tours & sections of the park
Address: US Highway 90, 20 miles east
Bell Shelter are held daily Wednesday through Sunday. From June 1st through August 31st the Fate Bell Tour will be held at 10 a.m. only. From September 1st through May 31st the Fate Bell Shelter Tours will begin at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
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