Prehistoric Rock Art ‘Irreparably Damaged’ by Vandals, Officials Say

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U.S.|Prehistoric Rock Art ‘Irreparably Damaged’ by Vandals, Officials Say

Geometric stone carvings that are believed to beryllium astatine slightest 3,000 years aged were scratched with names and dates astatine Big Bend National Park successful Texas.

At Big Bend National Park successful  Texas, vandals permanently damaged prehistoric stone  creation  that featured abstract designs that were created thousands of years ago, officials said.
Credit...National Park Service

Jan. 9, 2022, 9:30 a.m. ET

Abstract geometric designs astatine Big Bend National Park successful Texas that had survived for thousands of years were “irreparably damaged” by vandals who scratched names and dates into the prehistoric designs, the National Park Service said.

The Park Service said connected its website that the past stone creation was damaged connected Dec. 26 successful the Indian Head country of the park, which encompasses much than 800,000 acres successful southwest Texas and stretches on 118 miles of the United States borderline with Mexico.

Since 2015, archaeologists astatine the parkland person documented much than 50 instances of vandalism, the Park Service said.

Damaging parkland resources is against national instrumentality and defacing stone creation and past taste sites violates the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, which aims to support archaeological resources and sites connected national and Native American lands.

Tom Alex, an archaeologist who retired from the parkland successful 2014 aft moving determination for 32 years, said that the damaged abstract designs were known arsenic petroglyphs and that they had been pecked into the stone panel.

“There’s wavy lines, curvilinear lines, geometric patterns, squiggles and things that conscionable benignant of meander crossed the stone surface,” Mr. Alex said connected Saturday.

Mr. Alex said it was hard to find precisely however aged the creation was, but, based connected the weathering, the petroglyphs were astir apt made determination betwixt 3,000 and 8,000 years ago. He said these types of designs represented immoderate of the oldest stone creation successful North America. In the much caller clip period, stone creation included much representations of radical and animals.

The abstract pecked creation is communal crossed the southwestern United States. It is not yet imaginable to find what radical of autochthonal radical were liable for the designs astatine Big Bend, Mr. Alex said.

It was besides not known who damaged the stone art, though the person, oregon people, liable near immoderate clues. Four names were scrawled connected the art: Adrian, Ariel, Isaac and Norma, according to photos shared by the Park Service. The twelvemonth 2021 and the day “12-26-21” were besides scratched connected the rock.

Tom VandenBerg, the main of mentation and visitant services astatine Big Bend, told Texas Monthly that the parkland had received “pretty beardown imaginable leads” astir who was liable for the vandalism. Mr. VandenBerg added that the parkland avoided providing maps and directions to the carvings to forestall harm to the past site.

Bob Krumenaker, the superintendent of Big Bend, condemned the vandalism successful a post connected the park’s website. “Damaging earthy features and stone creation destroys the precise quality and past that the American radical privation to support successful our parks,” helium said.

Park unit members tried to repair the damage, but overmuch of it was permanent, the station said.

Mr. Alex said immoderate of the scratches connected the sheet were superficial and imaginable to cleanable up truthful they would beryllium little obvious, but others had penetrated the prehistoric designs. “Those scratches are going to beryllium determination forever,” helium said.

Stewards of nationalist lands person complained astir an summation successful vandalism and graffiti successful recent years.

In December 2020, Zion National Park successful Utah said that astir each day, unit members determination recovered “words and shapes carved, drawn, painted (with mud, dirt, pigment, paint) oregon scratched connected rocks.”

In January 2019, respective of the signature spiky-leafed Joshua trees astatine Joshua Tree National Park successful Southern California were damaged during a authorities shutdown.

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