Since Fall of 1968, the Native American petroglyph (better known as “The Rock” by generations of Seton Hall students and “the Jennings Petroglyph” by the archaeology and anthropology community) was housed in the middle of the lobby of Fahy Hall. The petroglyph (literally “rock carving”) depicts human and animal figures in various poses and is said to be the work of the Leni Lenape, a Native American peoples known to be early occupants of what is now New Jersey, Delaware and Eastern Pennsylvania.
The Leni Lenape petroglyph is part of the Seton Hall University Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology (SHUMAA) collection and was found, excavated and contributed by Seton Hall Professor Herbert Kraft (1927-2000), a leading archaeologist and authority on the Leni Lenape tribe. Based on a stylistic comparisons of the carvings, it has been suggested that the petroglyph may be attributed to the Late Archaic (3000-1000 BCE) or Early Woodland period (circa 1000-1 BCE).
Found on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River across from Dingmans Ferry, the petroglyph was removed to Seton Hall to save it, according to the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, “from being covered by the lake that was to be formed behind the Tocks Island Dam – a dam that was never built.”
Professor of Anthropology and SHUMAA Director, Rhonda Quinn, noted:
The Jennings Petroglyph is one of the best-preserved and unique works of rock art yet found in New Jersey. Although we cannot know for certain what function it served prehistoric Lenape Peoples or the meaning its crafters intended to signal, Seton Hall faculty and students are afforded the opportunity to study this massive artifact within the context of other petroglyphs from Native American archaeological sites and hypothesize past purpose(s) and histories.
Unfortunately, after long use, the petroglyph’s glass showcase broke; a new protective module, designed to keep the historic rendering accessible, yet safe, would have obstructed ADA ingress and egress for Fahy Hall.
On August 19, 2015, “The Rock,” which is roughly 4 feet wide and 5 feet long with a weight of 1500 pounds, was moved to its new and permanent home in the Walsh Library.
The move comes as part of a larger reorganization of the SHUMAA collection, which includes over 26,000 pieces of Native American, Asian and African art and artifacts - as well as some Greek, Roman and Byzantine pieces. The overwhelming majority of the Museum’s content, however, is small, Native American objects - largely Leni Lenape, but also including baskets from the Aleut peoples of the Aleutian Islands of Alaska and Russia as well as Navajo, Hopi, Pima and Paiute artifacts. Included in the collection is a large display of pottery from the American Southwest and a large collection of moccasins as well as figurines, tobacco pipes, musical instruments and weapons.
Dean of University Libraries, John Buschman, stated:
The Jennings Petroglyph will be joined up with the rest of the SHUMAA and together with web tools to more fully describe and catalog the collection, forms a highly valuable research collection which stands alongside other notable holdings in the Seton Hall University Libraries: a 15th century Papal document with its original lead seal, a 16th century Directorium inquisitorum (the manual of the Inquisition), the D’Argenio gift – a small-but-very-fine collection of coins and small artifacts from the Roman Empire, and items from Professor Kraft such as illuminated manuscript leaves from medieval texts. This move ensures University ADA compliance and continued accessibility to an historically important artifact.
In order to effectively house, organize and provide the best access to the massive collection within the Library, the Walsh Gallery and Archives and Special Collections have worked jointly on the SHUMAA space, preservation, and digitization projects.
Tasked with spearheading the transfer and cataloging of the SHUMAA collection, Collections Manager Allison Stevens remarked:
Moving the petroglyph is the first step in an extraordinary undertaking to catalog and preserve the some 26,000 artifacts we have in the SHUMAA collection at Seton Hall University. The ultimate goal is for every object to be cleaned, rehoused, moved from Fahy Hall to the Library’s Archives Room, organized, catalogued, photographed, recorded in the collections database, and published in an online database for easy access by students, scholars, and the public. Although this tedious process will take a several years, the resulting scholarship will be invaluable to the Seton Hall community.
Jeanne Brasile, Director of Walsh Gallery, agreed:
It is important and unique in a Gallery and Special Collections our size to have the collections and capacity to display both modern and art produced before the common era (BCE) together here at Seton Hall, bringing important works of art and artifacts to the public, students and scholars.