Saturday, April 16, 2011

"TRENT"




Apparently, a 29-year-old man on a guided fishing trip down the Colorado River thought the ancient petroglyph known as the "Descending Sheep Panel" (1st image) at Glen Canyon in Arizona would be improved by etching his name on it. Trenton Ganey was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Neil Wake to 60 months supervised probation, $10,000 restitution, and 100 hours of community service. My sentiments upon hearing this news have already been summed up by avocational archaeologist Donald R. Austin:
"I never fail to be flabbergasted each time I come upon a rock art panel that has been vandalized, and unfortunately I come upon this situation more and more often. I use the word flabbergasted because I simply cannot fathom a mental process that would allow a person to commit an act of such senseless destruction against an inanimate work of prehistoric importance....[I]t can be accurately described as an irrational act of violence against our collective past..."
Austin points out the motivations for the vandalism of these ancient markings, ranging from ignorance to deliberate defiance. And a Google search shows that this is not an isolated incident. Here are just a few recent examples:
  • In March 2010, four petroglyph panels and numerous rock faces at Grapevine Canyon in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area of Nevada were damaged by a 20-year-old playing paintball with a teenager (2nd image).
  • Also in March 2010, it was reported that repeated vandalism - including defacing the petroglyphs and chipping at the rock - had occured at a site near the Redemptorist Renewal Center in Tucson, Arizona (3rd image).
  • In August 2010, officials learned that the main rock art panel at Keyhole Sink on the Kaibab National Forest in Arizona had been defaced with spraypaint.
  • In Nov. 2010, it was reported that ancient artwork carved into the stones at Red Rock Canyon in Nevada had been vandalized.
Unfortunately, municipalities and the U.S. Forest Service face an uphill battle in preserving these exposed petroglyphs. Their accessibility makes them hard to protect and their delicacy makes them difficult to restore once they have been vandalized. In addition, conservator Claire Dean points out, "graffiti tends to attract more graffiti."

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