Big Bend National Park: Ancient Carvings ‘Irreparably Damaged’ by Vandals

by Madison Miller

Recently, vandals “irreparably damaged” ancient rock art at a national park. The Big Bend National Park in Texas has rock art carvings that were estimated to be between 3,000 and 8,500 years old.

Now, officials believe that these rare and historic carvings will never be able to get restored to their former glory after vandals decided to ruin them.

“On December 26th, a panel of ancient petroglyphs in the Indian Head area of Big Bend National Park was irreparably damaged when vandals chose to boldly scratch their names and the date across the prehistoric art,” the National Park Service said in a statement, according to NBC News.

Vandalism at the Big Bend National Park

Not only did the vandals do damage within a national park, but they destroyed something archaeologists classify as “Pecked Abstract Tradition” form of rock art. It is incredibly old and precious and it made the national park even more fascinating to tourists around the world.

The next step is to track down whoever is responsible for the vandalism. This person, or people, will face some costly charges.

Any damages done to the national park violate the Code of Federal Regulations. Not only that, but the rock art itself was under an entirely different form of protection as well. It classifies as an ancient cultural site, so it has protection under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act.

The vandalism itself could end up being a major way to identify those responsible. The original carvings are now carved over with the names Ariel, Issac, Adrian, and Norma. The date, 12-26-21 is also there. So not only do investigators have the names of the vandals, but also the date on which they were at the national park.

For lovers of the national park, and the officials hired to protect it, this action is incredibly disrespectful and harmful. “National Parks are treasured lands and protect our national heritage. Graffiti is vandalism, is costly, and extremely difficult if not impossible to remove,” the statement from the national park also said.

This isn’t the first instance of vandalism at Big Bend, either. The national park seems to attract vandals, for whatever reason. There are over 50 instances of vandalism since 2015.

Vandalism at National Parks

As for this particular instance, park officials have already been working diligently to try to remove the markings. So far, much of the damage appears to be permanent.

If you happen to spot vandalism at a national park it’s best to report it to park officials. This is better than trying to clean or rectify the situation on your own.

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there seems to have been an increase in vandalism and graffiti at national parks around the country. This is likely due to the overall increase in people visiting the parks.

For example, there was antisemitic vandalism at The Temple Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park in October. According to the Valley News, vandals used permanent markers and paint to draw and write on the historical burial site.