Thousand-year-old Native American rock carvings have been vandalized in Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest, according to the US Forest Service.
The series of over 100 rock carvings, or petroglyphs, in the Forest’s Track Rock Gap was created by the people of Creek and Cherokee over 1,000 years ago. Carved on soapstone rocks in Union City, Georgia, the sculptures are one of the most significant rock art sites in the Southeastern United States and are part of a protected historic site.
Photos shared on Facebook by the US Forest Service show some of the damage, including scratching or painting on the petroglyphs.
“The Eastern Cherokee Indian Band is sad and frustrated to learn that Track Rock has been vandalized,” the Tribal Heritage Preservation Office said in a statement Monday.
The office added, “These are special and rare sites. These are special sites for the eastern band of the Cherokee Indians and for all the heritage peoples of this region. Whether through ignorance or malice – the result is irreparable damage to a single site. site that connects us directly to people of the past. “
The petroglyphs are “a history set in stone” and “an irreplaceable part of the nation’s heritage,” the US Forest Service said in a statement.
“When looters and vandals destroy archaeological and historical sites, part of the nation’s heritage is lost forever,” the statement said.
The sculptures have long inspired myths from false stories about being linked to a Mayan settlement in the area. In 2013, members of the Muscogee Creek Nation and the Eastern Cherokee Indian Band publicly denounced allegations that the petroglyphs were created by anyone other than the Creek and Cherokee ancestors. Archaeological studies at the 2012 site found no Mayan artifacts in the area and showed a definitive link to the ancestors of the Creek and Cherokee peoples, according to the National Forest website.
The site is open to public viewing, but the US Forest Service has urged visitors to do their part to protect the sculptures by reporting looting and vandalism, treating the artifacts with respect and leaving them in place, and by walking lightly when visiting archaeological sites.
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