Thieves steal rock engravings from sacred Native American site
A gang of art thieves armed with circular saws, ladders, and a generator have stolen a series of ancient rock engravings from a remote set of volcanic cliffs in California's Sierra Nevada mountains.
Six of the petroglyphs, which are sacred to the local Paiute Native American tribe, were removed from the site and dozens more destroyed. Conservationists described the raid as "akin to someone going and cutting off a piece of the Wailing Wall".
The site, which has survived more than 3,500 years, is thought to have been raided during October, although the desecration only became public this week. A 650ft (200m) stretch of cliff, which had carried representations of bighorn sheep, lizards and deer, is now virtually unrecognisable.
"These petroglyphs are held sacred to the people here," said Raymond Andrews, a Paiute who serves as the local tribal historical preservation officer. "Our ancestors etched messages in them, so they are sacred … People go and pray to them and try to seek guidance."
The Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the site, says the theft required extraordinary effort. Thick slabs of rock 15ft off the ground were carved away from the cliff and then carried to a car park. Several broke en route and were left in pieces.
"It's one of the worst acts of desecration that one can imagine," Greg Haverstock, an archaeologist for the bureau, told the Los Angeles Times. "This site is on public lands, it's managed for the enjoyment of all individuals … and these selfish individuals basically destroyed a major portion of the site for their own personal gain and profit." The thieves appear to have been motivated by the fact that the stolen items are each worth between $500 (£300) and $1,500 on the black market.
"Sadly whatever they'll gain from it is far less than the damage they've done to this site," added Mr Haverstock.
- 1 Unseen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory chapter deemed 'too subversive' released
- 2 Ebola virus: It's ripped through towns – now the deadliest ever outbreak of the virus is heading for Africa's teeming cities
- 3 Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
Israel-Gaza crisis: YouTube footage shows scale of destruction after 50 days of shelling
iPhone 6 'hidden code' could indicate sharper screens or bigger phones
Keira Knightley topless: Conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
Ebola virus: It's ripped through towns – now the deadliest ever outbreak of the virus is heading for Africa's teeming cities
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
£100 - £130 per day + Excellent rates of pay, Free CPD: Randstad Education Sou...
£21000 - £30000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Upper KS2 Primary Teacher...
£90 - £130 per day + Excellent rates of pay : Randstad Education Southampton: ...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are seeking Trainee Recruitmen...