Vandals cause ‘irreparable damage’ to 1,000-year-old Native American petroglyphs in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests
- Track Rock Gap in Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests was the target of vandals
- A series of pre-colonial historical petroglyphs, or petroglyphs, were found covered in scratches and colored paint
- The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are unsure if the vandalism was ignorance or malice but say they are ‘sad and frustrated’
- Track Rock Gap’s rock art and stone landscape sites were created by Creek and Cherokee people over 1,000 years ago
- The petroglyph site was renovated in 2010 to make it more attractive to visitors and old grilles installed to deter vandalism were removed
A series of petroglyphs, or petroglyphs, created by Native Americans more than 1,000 years ago, were found destroyed in Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests in northern Georgia.
Multiple boulders in Track Rock Gap were found with damage, including five with major scratches and carvings, and two that had been painted.
The US Forest Service shared the photos of the destruction Facebook, write: “We are sorry to report the vandalism of a protected historic site in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests.”
Speaking on behalf of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the Tribal Heritage Preservation Office said, “Whether through ignorance or malice – the result is irreparable damage to a unique site that connects us directly to the people of the past.”
Multiple boulders in Track Rock Gap were found with damage, including five with major scratches and carvings, and two that were painted
There was varying degrees of damage to the petroglyphs, including one showing what appear to be a couple’s initials
The Track Rock Gap rock art and stone landscape locations in the Chattahoochee National Forest were created by Creek and Cherokee people who started more than 1,000 years ago
Photos show varying degrees of damage to the petroglyphs sometime in 2020, including one showing a couple’s initials.
In 2010, the US Forest Service renovated the Track Rock Gap to make the site more attractive to visitors. Previously, grids had been installed covering the petroglyphs to discourage vandalism.
The grilles were replaced with a rustic enclosure and small stone wall in an effort to give the petroglyphs a more meaningful experience.
Track Rock Gap is one of the best known rock art sites in the Southeastern United States and is the only one of its kind on public land in Georgia.
Located about 90 miles northeast of Atlanta, the site is home to the petroglyphs found by explorers before the year 1800, and the earliest evidence of carvings dates back to at least 3,600 years.
The vandalism, which occurred sometime in 2020, caused irreplaceable damage to the precolonial historic site
The petroglyphs were found by explorers before the year 1800 and the earliest evidence of carvings dates back to at least 3,600 years ago
The destroyed sites are special and rare sites for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
The Forest Service renovated Track Rock’s petroglyph to make it more attractive to visitors by removing old grilles (previously left behind) installed to discourage vandalism. They were replaced with a rustic post fence and a small stone wall (immediately after).
Each of the figures on Track Rock Gap features historical carvings that range from unrepresentative, to abstract and highly stylized. The ancient carvings have inspired stories of wild origins, including theories of a Mayan settlement in the nearby region.
Some of the carvings on the rocks were made by picking hard objects to create shapes, while others were made by cutting into the rock.
Places on public lands are protected by the Archaeological Resource Protection Act, and the damaged petroglyphs are considered an irreplaceable part of the nation’s heritage.