Vandals destroy ancient artifacts to create graffiti at Mesa Verde

MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK, Colo. — Vandals destroyed archaeological artifacts to write graffiti on the side of a sandstone cliff in Mesa Verde National Park recently.

Park officials posted several pictures of vandalism and graffiti at Mesa Verde on a Facebook page.

“Why do you think people do this? What do you think the intent is and what can we do as a culture to cut down on these occurrences?” the post asked.

The cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde in Colorado’s southwest corner are some of the most notable and best preserved on the North American continent.

Sometime during the late 1190s, after primarily living on the mesa top for 600 years, many ancestral Pueblo people began living in pueblos they built beneath the overhanging cliffs.

In one of the pictures, names are rubbed onto the sandstone using prehistoric charcoal that a visitor dug up in an archaeological site along the Petroglyph Point Trail.

Not only was the cliff side vandalized, but archaeological artifacts were destroyed to do so.

Another picture shows letters and shapes carved into prehistoric grinding slicks on the Petroglyph Point Trail, permanently damaging these artifacts, the post said.

Officials have found rocks stacked to mark trails. They say those markings can lead visitors off established trails into dangerous areas.

Also, rocks are being painted and left in the park for a social media scavenger hunt.

“The purpose of the National Park Service is to preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations,” officials said.