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21 May 2003
Teens deface petroglyphs in Utah cave

Two teenagers turned themselves in to police and admitted they had defaced ancient petroglyphs in Juke Box Cave, which is in the Wendover area of western Utah, near the Nevada border (USA). They scrawled obscene pictures and parts of their names with charcoal over the Indian rock art.
     The cave art was sealed behind a locked and gated entrance, but the vandals used a car jack to bend two bars far enough apart to squeeze through, investigators said.  "We will be able to reverse the damage, but it will take time to assess the best way to clean up the graphics without wrecking any of the original artwork," said assistant state archaeologist Ron Rood. State workers reinforced the gate to make it harder for vandals to pry it open.
     Juke Box (so named because a concrete floor was poured in the cavern during World War II and it was used as a dance hall by airmen stationed at Wendover) and nearby Danger Cave have been visited by vandals and looters many times, despite gates and other efforts to protect the sites. In 1999, intruders broke through an iron gate on Juke Box Cave and dug a hole, apparently hoping to find artifacts.
     The caves are part of Danger Cave State Park, which was set aside because of its prehistorical significance but never developed due to lack of funding. Archaeological digs in the 1940s and 1950s found evidence of some of the earliest human habitation in the Great Basin, going back more than 10,000 years in Danger Cave and 7,000 years in Juke Box.

Sources: KSL TV (12 May 2003), Las Vegas Sun (13 May 2003), The Salt Lake Tribune (14 May 2003)

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