Agence France Presse
Published — Thursday 22 November 2012
Last update 21 November 2012 7:39 pm
LOS ANGELES: Archaeologists offered a $1,000 reward Tuesday for information leading to the arrest of vandals who stole four priceless ancient rock carvings, and damaged others in the California desert. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) called the carvings — sliced out of the rock face with cement-cutting circular saws — an “irreplaceable part of our national cultural heritage.”
“The damaged site is a pristine example of Great Basin rock art and hunter-gatherer domestic, religious and subsistence activities,” said Greg Haverstock, a BLM archaeologist based in Bishop, eastern California. The petroglyphs, etched by ancient hunters 3,500 years ago, had survived winds, floods and earthquakes over the centuries but were hauled off in a matter of hours.
A fifth suffered deep saw cuts and a sixth was removed but broken and abandoned near a parking lot in the Eastern Sierra desert, while dozens of others were scarred by hammer blows. The stolen slabs of rock were two feet (60 centimeters) square, and up to 15 feet off the ground, requiring ladders and electrical generators for the power saws.
The BLM Bishop field office said it was “offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest/conviction of the responsible individuals who damaged petroglyph panels at a major rock art site.” “The individuals who did this were not surgeons, they were smashing and grabbing,” Haverstock told the Los Angeles Times.