Ancient art on a rock at Big Bend National Park in Texas was “irreparably damaged” by vandals last month, park officials said in a news release this week, sharing a picture of names scratched in white on a large boulder.
Big Bend National Park officials said the panel of ancient petroglyphs in the Indian Head area of Big Bend was defaced when vandals chose to “boldly scratch their names and the date across the prehistoric art,” according to the news release.
Big Bend National Park Superintendent Bob Krumenaker said vandals at the park who chose to deface it are making an irreversible choice on behalf of everyone.
"Big Bend National Park belongs to all of us,” Krumenaker said. “Damaging natural features and rock art destroys the very beauty and history that the American people want to protect in our parks. With each instance of vandalism, part of our Nation's heritage is lost forever."
The names scratched in the rock appear in the image as “ISAAC ARIEL” and NORMA ADRIAN 2021” above “12-26-2021."
Park managers have seen an increase in vandalism and graffiti in the area, the release said.
"National Parks are treasured lands and protect our national heritage,” the release from Big Bend said. “Graffiti is vandalism, is costly, and extremely difficult if not impossible to remove. It is also illegal.”
Officials said damaging park resources is a violation of 36 Code of Federal Regulations, and that rock art and ancient cultural sites are also protected under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act.
Since 2015, park archeologists have documented more than 50 instances of vandalism to priceless sites within the park.
According to the release, anyone who might discover vandalized rock art should not attempt to clean it. The park’s trained staff will act to mitigate the damage as quickly as possible using specialized techniques.
Big Bend officials said staff treated the most recent vandalism at Indian Head, “but much of the damage is, unfortunately, permanent.”
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the Big Bend National Park Communication Center at 432-477-1187.