ALTAMIRA, Spain — The cave of Altamira in northern Spain contains some of the world’s finest examples of Paleolithic art. For years, visitors came to see the bisons, horses and mysterious signs painted and carved into the limestone as far back as 22,000 years ago. But in 2002 the cave was closed to the public when algae-like mold started to appear on some paintings. The damage was attributed to the presence of visitors and the use of artificial light to help them see the works.
Now Altamira is being partially reopened and in the process reviving the debate over whether such a prehistoric site can withstand the presence of modern-day visitors. Read more.
PRICE — The family of a juvenile responsible with defacing ancient rock art in Nine Mile Canyon has agreed to pay for the damage.
In May, Bureau of Land Management Utah Price Field Office law enforcement officers and archaeological staff investigated citizen-reported damage to the Nine Mile Canyon Pregnant Buffalo rock art panel in Carbon County.
The investigation revealed that two juveniles from the Salt Lake City area had carved their initials and the date into the rock face near the panel over Memorial Day weekend.
After careful examination and analysis, the BLM assessed the damage and identified specific mitigation measures. BLM archaeologists estimated that restoration and repair efforts would cost approximately $1,500. Read more.
Archaeologists know it as Renegade Canyon, a lava gorge in desert badlands with more than 1 million images of hunters, spirits and bighorn sheep etched in sharp relief on cliff faces and boulders.
But this desert is in the heart of the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station, and it is where the Navy and Marines develop and test advanced bomb and missile systems.
Safeguarding the canyon and other troves of rock art from stray bombs and vandalism has been a priority since the Mojave Desert base was established in 1943. Now, the Navy is gearing up for a daunting new mission: creation of the first comprehensive inventory of the largest concentration of petroglyphs in the Western Hemisphere. Read more.
TADRART ACACUS, Libya— Vandals have destroyed prehistoric rock art in lawless southern Libya, endangering a sprawling tableau of paintings and carvings classified by UNESCO as of “outstanding universal value.”
Located along Libya’s southwestern tip bordering Algeria, the Tadrart Acacus mountain massif is famous for thousands of cave paintings and carvings going back up to 14,000 years.
The art, painted or carved on rocks sandwiched by spectacular sand dunes, showcase the changing flora and fauna of the Sahara stretching over thousands of years.
Highlights include a huge elephant carved on a rock face as well as giraffes, cows and ostriches rendered in caves dating back to an era when the region was not inhospitable desert. Read more.
Central Kimberley rock art from the period of first Aboriginal–European contact shows iconography dramatically different to both pre-contact art and contact art from other districts.
Archaeologist Jane Balme says this reflects the violent history of the time and place, where Jandamarra led a guerrilla action against settlers and police, and Aborigines were then obliged to work on pastoral stations.
Contact period rock art is mostly confined to charcoal drawings and images lightly scratched in the rockface.
Some traditional owner’s recall seeing these made when they were children visiting these sites with their parents. Read more.
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah archaeologists are incensed and a federal agency is pursuing a criminal case involving the brazen, daylight defacement of one of the state’s most prominent rock art panels.
Someone etched their initials and the date next to the prehistoric image known as the “Pregnant Buffalo” on a rock panel in Nine Mile Canyon just minutes after it had been inspected by archaeologist Jerry D. Spangler.
“Each act of vandalism is a selfish disregard of the aesthetic, spiritual and scientific values that constitute our collective past,” said Spangler, executive director of the Colorado Plateau Archaeological Alliance. Read more.
Rock art in Western Australia’s Pilbara region believed to be up to 60,000 years old has been attacked by vandals.
Tourist guide and Ngarluma man Clinton Walker said he had discovered a defaced piece of rock art on the Burrup Peninsula in Murujuga National Park.
"Someone has actually etched into a rock right above where some of the rock art is and wrote: ‘go and work for a living’," he said.
The Burrup Peninsula is home to the world’s biggest collection of Aboriginal rock art and gained national heritage listing in 2007.
Greens MP Robin Chapple said he was shocked and disappointed to learn of the fresh vandalism reports. Read more.
A 5,000 year-old rock painting in southern Spain has been destroyed by thieves who tried to steal the Unesco World Heritage-listed artwork by chipping it off the cave wall where it was housed.
Residents of the Santa Elena in Spain’s southern Jaén province are reeling after news of the damage.
Local mayor Juan Caminero said the painting was now “irreparable” and condemned the act of vandalism as “heartless”, Spanish daily La Vanguardia reported on Monday.
News of the attempted theft first emerged on Saturday after visitors to the Los Escolares Cave noticed the damage to the zoomorphic painting of a person resembling a swallow.
After noticing what looked like evidence of someone having tried to chip away at the image with a pick, they spotted fine dust and rock fragments on the floor. Read more.