Cookie Consent by Cookie Consent by TermsFeed
 
Bradshaw Foundation Latest News
Bradshaw Foundation Latest News
Bradshaw Foundation Latest News
Bradshaw Foundation - Latest News
Damage to Native American petroglyph site
Monday 26 July 2021

An article by Louis Sahagún on latimes.com - Caltech says it regrets drilling holes in sacred Native American petroglyph site - reports from Bishop, California on recent unauthorised activity in the Volcanic Tablelands at Fish Slough, a National Natural Landmark on the eastern edge of the tablelands, with numerous vivid petroglyphs.

Caltech sacred Native American petroglyph site Bishop California Fish Slough
Ancient figures are etched into the rock faces at the Fish Slough Petroglyphs site in the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s Volcanic Tablelands area near Bishop, Calif.(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Federal Ranger Chris Mason was alerted to news of people seen lugging bags of heavy equipment into the protected site containing prehistoric rock carvings. This area has also been subject to looting for the illegal antiquities market. In this case the activity involved a faculty member and students from Caltech, the prestigious private research university in Pasadena known for its strength in science and engineering, and for managing NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Joseph Kirschvink, a professor of geoscience, had used a portable pneumatic drill to extract core samples for paleomagnetic studies, officials said. He drilled into rock face roughly three feet from a petroglyph and left the site riddled with 29 1-inch diameter holes marked with blue paint.

Article continues below
Article continues

Kirschvink was not authorized to conduct research in the area designated to be of critical concern in California’s eastern Sierra Nevada, and that was the reason he and Caltech came under investigation for violating the Archeological Resources Protection Act. The site, near Bishop, is administered by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The expansive petroglyph site is one of the oldest recorded in the West and easily accessible by road. A placard at a popular viewing site roughly one mile north of where the damage occurred warns visitors that “no person may excavate, remove, damage or otherwise deface any archeological resource.”

Caltech sacred Native American petroglyph site Bishop California Fish Slough
Fish Slough, a National Natural Landmark on the eastern edge of the Volcanic Tablelands, includes vivid petroglyphs chipped into bizarrely eroded volcanic tuff formations.(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

It took four years to resolve the case due to delays caused by the pandemic, and the strict requirements and complexities of the agency’s forensic protocol and damage assessment procedures, officials said. Native Americans, archeologists and federal land managers have long complained that unlawful removal and destruction of artifacts and sacred sites destroy priceless cultural connections, along with scientific data that allow a better understanding of the earliest inhabitants of North America.

Caltech sacred Native American petroglyph site Bishop California Fish Slough
Unauthorized drilling of core samples by a Caltech professor left dozens of 1-inch-diameter holes at the petroglyph site in the Volcanic Tablelands.(David Lee)

“Those formations and the prayers etched into them so many thousands of years ago belong to the public,” said Kathy Jefferson Bancroft, tribal historic preservation officer for the Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Reservation. “They are not sources of raw material for unpermitted academic studies.”

Caltech sacred Native American petroglyph site Bishop California Fish Slough
For Native Americans, the geometric shapes, animals and human figures etched by their ancestors into the rocks at the Fish Slough Petroglyphs site are part of a living spiritual world.(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Caltech in June agreed to pay $25,465 to the Department of the Interior to cover the costs of repairing damage from the drilling, which the Bureau of Land Management concluded was “inadvertent.” Under the terms of the agreement, it also promised “meaningful academic and educational outreach about the importance of obtaining appropriate federal permits before conducting research on public lands.”

In a statement, Caltech said, “While this was an isolated incident that took place more than four years ago, we deeply regret the damage caused to public lands, especially in light of this area’s sacred meaning to local tribal groups.”

“Going forward,” it added, “Caltech will conduct academic and educational outreach to promote fuller understanding, appreciation, and respect for the importance of clear authorization before undertaking research with the potential to affect geological or archeological resources in any way — both within our community and the broader geosciences field.”

Click here for the American Rock Art Archive

To read the full article click here

Comment
Rock Art
Damage to Native American petroglyph site
by Bradshaw Foundation
Monday 26 July 2021
Prehistoric animal carvings found in Scotland
by Bradshaw Foundation
Tuesday 01 June 2021
Perspectives on Differences in Rock Art
by Bradshaw Foundation
Friday 30 April 2021
Cave Painting
Protecting Utyetye rock art
by Bradshaw Foundation
Monday 12 July 2021
A lockdown obsession with cave paintings
by Bradshaw Foundation
Monday 24 May 2021
What Sulawesi cave art reveals
by Bradshaw Foundation
Tuesday 20 April 2021
Paleoanthropology
New type of ancient human discovered
by Bradshaw Foundation
Friday 25 June 2021
New graphic adaptation of Sapiens
by Bradshaw Foundation
Monday 09 November 2020
Oldest Neanderthal DNA found
by Bradshaw Foundation
Tuesday 03 November 2020
Archaeology
Chevron carving thought to be by Neanderthals
by Bradshaw Foundation
Tuesday 06 July 2021
New project off Western Australia's coast
by Bradshaw Foundation
Thursday 06 May 2021
Oldest known burial site in Africa
by Bradshaw Foundation
Thursday 06 May 2021
Anthropology
South Pacific Islanders used obsidian for tattoos
by Bradshaw Foundation
Tuesday 12 July 2016
Oldest evidence of domesticated rice in China
by Bradshaw Foundation
Thursday 23 June 2016
Landscapes shaped by human activity
by Bradshaw Foundation
Tuesday 07 June 2016
World Heritage
Antony Gormley on the earliest sculptures
by Bradshaw Foundation
Thursday 05 November 2020
A Life on our Planet
by Bradshaw Foundation
Thursday 08 October 2020
Neolithic structure discovered near Stonehenge
by Bradshaw Foundation
Monday 22 June 2020
Follow the Bradshaw Foundation on social media for news & updates
Follow the Bradshaw Foundation
on social media for news & updates
Follow the Bradshaw Foundation on social media for news & updates
Follow the Bradshaw Foundation
on social media for news & updates
If you have enjoyed visiting this website
please consider adding a link © Bradshaw Foundation
 
 
ROCK ART NETWORK
Rock Art Network Bradshaw Foundation Getty Conservation Institute
ROCK ART
CAVE PAINTINGS
PALEOANTHROPOLOGY
New type of ancient human discovered
by Bradshaw Foundation
Friday 25 June 2021
New graphic adaptation of Sapiens
by Bradshaw Foundation
Monday 09 November 2020
Oldest Neanderthal DNA found
by Bradshaw Foundation
Tuesday 03 November 2020
ARCHAEOLOGY
ANTHROPOLOGY
WORLD HERITAGE
Antony Gormley on the earliest sculptures
by Bradshaw Foundation
Thursday 05 November 2020
A Life on our Planet
by Bradshaw Foundation
Thursday 08 October 2020
Neolithic structure discovered near Stonehenge
by Bradshaw Foundation
Monday 22 June 2020
Bradshaw Foundation Donate Friends
Support our work & become a
Friend of the Foundation
 
 
 
Bradshaw Foundation YouTube
Bradshaw Foundation iShop Shop Store
Bradshaw Foundation iShop Shop Store
Bradshaw Foundation iShop Shop Store