Cool people know how wrong it is to carve (photo, left) or spray-paint (photo, right) their own "art" on top of petroglyphs and pictographs.That kind of vandalism stifles the voices of the ancient artists and erases their stories. It also creates some very bad juju for the perp. However, even the most well-meaning visitor to an archaeological or historic site may not be aware of the damage that can be caused by other, seemingly harmless activity.
From the GCAS Library/Archives:
No photos of this particular bowl are known to exist, but the following description may be accurate enough that someone may recognize it if they have seen it. This bowl was reportedly unearthed on private ranch land located east of Silver City, New Mexico, at some time during the late 1970s through the 1980s.
It was described as "...a beautiful Mimbres Classic bowl...[depicting] a Mimbres warrior standing up with a shield on one arm and a three-pronged spear-headed staff in the other..."
The individual who excavated this bowl was not related to the landowners and it appears he did not have the landowners' permission to remove this artifact. However, it does not appear that the landowners made any report of theft to any law enforcement authorities. Nevertheless it was assumed at the time that the individual who took this bowl eventually sold it to either an intermediary or directly to a private collector.
If anyone encounters a bowl matching this description, either on display or in a photograph, you are welcome to contact the GCAS via this website so at the very least we may be able to alert the individual currently in possession of it.
On about August 31, 2018, site stewards and members of the YCC archaeology crew at Silver City's Aldo Leopold Charter School discovered at least two separate items of vandalism at the beloved Dragonfly Petroglyph site in Silver City, New Mexico:
Vandalism like this at archaeological sites like the Dragonfly Petroglyph is classified as a felony. If anyone has any information about these "Joe + Liz" rock carvings or the individual(s) who made them please contact New Mexico's SiteWatch program at (505) 827-6320 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org; and/or telephone the Grant County Sheriff's Office at (575) 574-0100; and/or drop the GCAS a line at email@example.com.
Let's hold these people to account.
[All photos courtesy of Zacariah Orion Donnelly, leader of the YCC archaeology crew at Aldo Leopold Charter School.]
Keep your eyes open on social media & YouTube, people - there may be a short video about this that eventually surfaces somewhere. The kind of persons who vandalize, typically can't keep it to themselves for very long. The bigger the vandalism, the bigger the urge to brag about it. These two particular incidents of vandalism at Bandelier National Monument near Los Alamos, New Mexico, occurred in August 2017 and May 2018. They appear to have been very, very big indeed.
KRQE News reported on August 22, 2018: "The National Park Service needs the public's help finding a vandal....Park officials are in disbelief at the damage done at an archeological site called Duchess Castle at Bandelier National Monument in Los Alamos earlier this summer...."
[Photo of Duchess Castle, Bandelier National Monument, by National Park Service.]
From the GCAS Library/Archives:
At some time between 9:00 AM on February 2, 1998, and 11:00 AM on February 12, 1998, the three Mimbres ceramic bowls shown below were stolen from the Silver City, New Mexico, home of Juanita Frank:
The theft was promptly reported to the Grant County Sheriff's Department, explaining that the artifacts had originally been found on Ms. Frank's family's ranch located east of Silver City. A newspaper report by the Silver City Daily Press dated March 11, 1998, published black-and-white photographs of all three bowls with the somewhat ambiguous description, "...They include a black-and-white bowl that is about 18 inches wide and 8 inches deep; a vessel that is 12 inches wide and 8 inches deep; and a smaller one. The unpainted portion of [one] bowl has been completed since the photograph was taken...."
Humans, like crows, are acquisitive by nature. We are attracted to pretty things and are especially intrigued when it's clear to us that other, ancient humans made the pretty things we find -- like the fascinating forms, lines, colors, and textures of potsherds.
In past decades, collecting potsherds - and even far more substantial artifacts - was considered a harmless pastime perhaps similar to collecting postage stamps. Archaeologists have spent more than a century analyzing hundreds of ceramic styles in the US Southwest and the locations where they have been found; so it would be easy to assume that a few potsherds more or less would make little scientific difference.
Oops! Federal officials divulge secret info about Native American artifacts
This story was originally published by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit news organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Learn more at revealnews.org and subscribe to the Reveal podcast, produced with PRX, at revealnews.org/podcast.
Federal officials mistakenly published confidential information on locations and descriptions of about 900 ancient cliff dwellings, spiritual structures, rock art panels and other Native American antiquities in Utah.
The Bureau of Land Management posted a 77-page report online that included unique identifiers for priceless artifacts as it prepared to auction the most archaeologically rich lands ever offered for industrial use. The report exposed ruins spanning 13,000 years of Native American history to vandalism and looting, and experts say the BLM violated federal regulations that prohibit publicly sharing information about antiquities.
Via the GCAS Facebook page: