|29 September 2004
Man charged with ancient rock art vandalism
A 22-year-old resident of Huntington, Emery County (Utah, USA), has been charged with vandalizing a rock art panel in Buckhorn Draw, San Rafael Swell, a site whose ancient pictures may date back 2,000 to 4,000 years.
Jeremy Shane Craig faces a third-degree felony charge for alleged violation of the antiquities protection law, said the Emery County Attorney's Office. The maximum possible sentence is five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
The vandalism is believed to have occurred about July 19. The message "I love you, Wendy," with picture symbols used for all but Wendy, was chalked on the sandstone wall near the ancient paintings. A $1,000 reward for information had been posted by the Emery County sheriff's office, the Bureau of Land Management and a group concerned about restoring historic sites, Sheriff LaMar Guymon said. He said three people came forward with information, and the reward will be distributed if a conviction results.
This is not the first time that the large panel of Barrier Canyon pictographs has been damaged. For many years it carried graffiti such as a forged inscription: "1846 Jim Bridger." In 1994, the panel was repaired through efforts of local citizens and private donations. Fencing, interpretive signs and other facilities were installed. But 10 years later it was hit again.
BLM archaeologist Julie A. Howard, Salt Lake City, said the agency is pleased with the tips from the public. "We need more people to be our eyes and ears. . . . Vandalism to rock art, whether from ignorance or malice, has resulted in irreparable damage."
A report by Constance S. Silver of Preservar Inc., a conservation expert who worked to restore the panel, noted that after authorities requested that the public not try to remove the vandalism, someone tried to take it off by washing off the chalk and covering that part of the panel with mud. Unfortunately, the attempt just made things worse.
Until now, the surface of the rock was a rosy color, tinted by the "very fragile" desert varnish that formed naturally on the sandstone centuries ago, Silver wrote. "The vandalism and subsequent 'washing' and mud application totally destroyed the desert varnish. As a result, the panel has been irreparably damaged."
Sources: Deseret News, KSL TV (17 September 2004)
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