Geology Students Vandalize Ancient Rock Art in Utah National Forest

If prosecuted, the students could face up to five years in jail.

Graffiti from Ohio State University geology students defacing ancient rock art in Utah. Photo: Rex Daley.
Graffiti from Ohio State University geology students defacing ancient rock art in Utah. Photo: Rex Daley.

A group of college geology students appear to have vandalized ancient Native American rock art on a canyon wall in Utah. The US Forest Service and local law enforcement are investigating the incident, reports KSL, a broadcast station in Salt Lake City.

The cliff wall, located in Manti-La Sal National Forest, now bears the names and signatures of multiple individuals, as well as references to Ohio State University. The school runs an annual geology field camp in the area.

Several of the student inscriptions overlap an ancient drawing of a red horse. “Why would a geology student do something like that?” local resident Rex Daley asked KSL.

Diagrams showing the hard-to-see rock art vandalized by Ohio State University students. Photo: screenshot of KSL.

Diagrams showing the hard-to-see rock art vandalized by Ohio State University students.
Photo: screenshot of KSL.

The Antiquities Act protects Native American rock art in particular, and defacing public land is illegal, as street artist André Saraiva learned the hard way earlier this year. In March, eagle-eyed Instagrammers noticed an image Saraiva had shared of a rock tagged with his signature graffiti symbol was actually in California’s Joshua Tree National Park.

“We want the community to realize when people to paint on a natural surface in a park it isn’t art. It’s vandalism,” Joshua Tree press representative Jennie Albrinck told the Huffington Post.

If prosecuted, the students could face up to five years in jail and a $100,000 fine, according to KSL.

Graffiti from Ohio State University geology students defacing ancient rock art in Utah.  Photo: Rex Daley.

Graffiti from Ohio State University geology students defacing ancient rock art in Utah.
Photo: Rex Daley.

 

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