Vandals strike N. Arizona archaeological site
• By: Associated Press
WILLIAMS, AZ – Archaeologists are assessing damage to a 1,000 year-old rock art panel in a northern Arizona forest.
A hiker reported the damage last month at the Kaibab National Forest’s Keyhole Sink, named for the keyhole-shaped lava flow.
The word “ACE” is written in what appears to be white paint over the rock art, known as petroglyphs. Kaibab archaeologist Neil Weintraub said Thursday that it’s often difficult to catch those responsible for defacing petroglyphs.
“This senseless act not only damaged the fragile rock art, it degraded a special place enjoyed by several thousand visitors each year,” he said.
Individuals with information regarding the crime are asked to contact the Williams District Ranger.
The petroglyphs are protected under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979. If the damage is more than $500, the penalty for a first offense is up to two years in prison and $20,000 in fines, forest officials said. A second offense carries penalties of up to five years in prison and $100,000 in fines.
The lava flow was defaced four years ago when vandals scratched names on it, which later were rubbed out. Weintraub said the petroglyphs weren’t affected.
Margaret Hangan, heritage program manager for the forest, said Keyhole Sink is one of the only sites in northern Arizona where hikers can learn about petroglyphs and is listed in several guide books.
The forest has offered guided tours during archaeology month in March to see the petroglyphs and an adjacent waterfall created by snow melt, she said.
Archaeologists refer to the prehistoric cultural group that made the petroglyphs as the Cohonina, likely ancestors of the Hopi, Hualapai and Havasupai tribes that inhabited the Parks area, Hangan said. The bear paws, snakes and lizards in the rock art panel are similar to Hopi clan symbols. The panel also depicts an ancient hunting scene.