Ancient Rock Art Defaced In Nine Mile Canyon

May 27, 2014

An individual who vandalized a historic rock art formation this weekend in Nine Mile Canyon has been identified according to Jerry Spangler, the executive director of the Colorado Plateau Archaeological Alliance. 

Vandal of ancient petroglyph caught by authorities.

Local property owners visited the site Sunday and found the initials "JMN" etched into the rock near a petroglyph of a pregnant buffalo.

Spangler said land owners and the alliance were able to track down the license plate number of a vehicle seen in the area and a description of the people inside. He said that information was turned over to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and has led to the identification of an 18-year-old West Valley man who has confessed to the defacing.

Spangler said the vandalism did not directly go over the top of the images, but is in the middle of them, making repair difficult.

“It’s etched so deep into the stone that even if you take off the graffiti, you’re still going to scar the stone; there’s going to be a place there where you can tell something has been removed,” said Spangler.

Spangler said this site is one of the most significant of its kind.

“Every time we add a name or a date, we degrade the integrity of that site just a little bit more,” said Spangler. “If everybody did it… all it would be, would be graffiti messages.”

Thousands of people visit the rock art panels in Nine Mile Canyon each year. The images are believed to date back to the Fremont period between 900 and 1250 A.D.