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Vandals hit ancient art at Red Rock

Red Rock

Courtesy Friends of Red Rock Canyon

Damage is shown after vandals used spray paint on historic rock art panels at Red Rock Canyon.

Updated Monday, Nov. 29, 2010 | 2:27 p.m.

Click to enlarge photo

Damage is shown after vandals used spray paint on historic rock art panels at Red Rock Canyon.

A $2,500 reward is being offered to anyone who provides information leading to the conviction of those responsible for recent graffiti on three ancient rock art panels in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

Officials said the art panels — varying in size from 3-by-6 feet to 8-by-9 feet — were completely covered with maroon spray paint. The vandalism happened in the Willow Spring/Lost Creek area, officials said.

The panels included pictographs, defined as paintings and drawings on rock, and petroglyphs, drawings scraped and ground onto the surface of the rock. All were severely damaged, officials said.

The Bureau of Land Management estimates that restoration will cost about $10,000. The vandalism is the most severe case in Red Rock in the past several years, said Mark Boatwright, archeologist for the BLM's Red Rock/Sloan Field Office.

"This act of vandalism has angered not only hundreds of Friends members but has also insulted the memory of the Native Americans who inhabited the area in the past," said Mark Beauchamp, president of Friends of Red Rock Canyon, in a statement. "Defacing their ancient art is the equivalent of destroying our heritage and history."

The vandalism is considered a felony for violating the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, punishable by five years in jail and a fine up to $100,000, officials said. BLM Law Enforcement is investigating the incident.

The drawings could date back to A.D. 1000 and were probably made by the known prehistoric archaeological cultures that lived in the area, such as the Virgin Anasazi or the Paiute.

Researchers are unsure what the abstract pictographs represent. Some of the images include a few smears that were made by fingers dipped in pigment.

Red Rock is vulnerable to graffiti vandals because of its proximity to Las Vegas' urban neighborhoods, said Hillerie C. Patton, a Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman.

"We get a lot of damage and graffiti vandalism all the time," she said. "When people are doing crimes like this they are not thinking it through."

Anyone with information about the vandalism is asked to call (702) 515-5151. Tax deductible donations for the reward and restoration funds can be made by visiting or by e-mailing [email protected].

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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