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Rock of Ages, Sands of Time

Paintings by Barbara Page, Text by Warren Allmon

With a Foreword by Rosamond Wolff Purcell
Two tiny trilobites in a vast Cambrian ocean drift past sea cucumber parasols and a shaggy, tree-like sponge. Snail tracks loop enigmatically against brushed-gray Silurian slate, and ghostly white crinoids feather a Devonian seascape. A delicate pterosaur flies bravely into the Jurassic gloom, while a Tyrannosaurus rex so big that its teeth fill our field of vision stalks the deep orange sands that mark the end of the Cretaceous period.

These are just a few scenes from the magnificent drama that unfolds in glorious full color and three-dimensional texture in Rock of Ages, Sands of Time. Each of Barbara Page’s 544 contiguous painted panels represents a million years of the history of life on earth, with fossil plants and animals depicted at the same scale and in association with each other just as they might be found by a paleontologist in the field. A muted rainbow of background colors evoke the rocks in which the fossils were found—the Texas Red Beds, for instance, or the yellow Solnhofen limestone—and keystone events are shown metaphorically, with fat rolls of paint marking major extinctions or continental drift.

To fully experience the awesome impact of an eon’s worth of time spread across 500 feet of bas-relief panels, you’d have to visit the Museum of the Earth in Ithaca, New York, where Page’s specially commissioned work will be installed when the museum opens in 2002. But this book is the next best thing. Not only does it contain crisp color reproductions of each painting, but it also includes an accessible essay from paleontologist Warren Allmon giving the scientific context behind the art.

For fossil lovers of all ages, and anyone interested in the merging of art and science, Rock of Ages, Sands of Time will be the find of a lifetime.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Rosamond Wolff Purcell
Artist’s Note
Artist’s Introduction
Introduction Time, Space, Rocks, and Life
Infinite Possibilities The Cambrian
Pattern Emerges The Ordovician
Bounceback The Silurian
Sea Change The Devonian
Jungle Fever The Carboniferous
In Cold Blood The Permian
Ashes to Ashes The Triassic
Continental Divide The Jurassic
Zenith, Revolution, and Oblivion The Cretaceous
A New World Order The Tertiary
Of Ice and Men The Quarternary
Rock of Ages, Sands of Time: An Overview
Appendix: Key Species in Paintings
Further Reading
Artist’s Acknowledgments

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