Chumash Painted Cave

United States of America

Within the hills above Santa Barbara, along the narrow, winding road of Highway 154, rises a cliff of sandstone. Nestled inside the fine sandstone almost hidden from view is a small room-sized cave. Following a short path, visitors will come to an iron cross-hatched gate. Peering in, their eyes will quickly adjust to the darkened cave to view one of the best preserved rock art sites in California and of the Chumash people. The Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park is one of the smallest State Parks in California, at little more than seven acres, and was designated as a State Park in 1976 to preserve these paintings. Although the meaning of these circular and anthropomorphic figures have been lost, there is some speculation of their association to astrology and Chumash cosmology. Depictions of what look like sun bursts made of red ochre and black and white striped figures stretched across the ceiling immediately feed the imagination. The dates of the rock art are equally unknown. Potentially as old as thousands of years to as recent as a few hundred years, images overlap each other in an unknown relationship and configuration, reflecting repeated use of the site over time. The unique quality and fragility of the cave paintings has been acknowledged for over 100 years. In the early 1900s, an iron gate was installed to protect the cave from further vandalism that had already been accumulating. Today, CyArk and the California State Parks are using non-invasive 3D capturing technologies to document the current conditions of the cave while offering a platform for the public to see the details of the paintings. 


00:30 / 01:00