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25 May 2011
Modern rock art is unwelcome

Some unwelcome modern rock art is being attacked and removed, in an area which is sacred to a native North American tribe. The 'art' in question is graffiti, which has been sprayed across 1,000 year old pictographs. The area where this has occurred is the Red Rock Canyon in Southern Nevada, USA. The pictographs and petroglyphs are believed to have been drawn and painted by the ancestors of the Paiute tribe and comprise a series of abstract lines and circles.
     To minimise any damage a team of local volunteers and employees from the Land Management Bureau have teamed up with a world renowned South African archaeologist, Janine Laubser, whose speciality is rock art. The clean up is complicated by the fact that the pictographs are on sandstone, so using strong solvents is not an option. Janine Laubser explained the technique they used "We start with a dry treatment. That hardly ever works with spray paint, so then we go with native water, and if that doesn't work we use denatured alcohol". The graffiti taggger's work of minutes has taken nearly six months to reverse and, whilst the pictographs will never be the same, you would be hard pushed to notice the change.

Edited from Las Vegas Review-Journal (19 May 2011)

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