Current topics in archaeology, cultural heritage & historic preservation

Friday, September 4, 2009

Rock Art Site Etiquette

Visiting a rock art site can be a great experience!

If you're privileged to go to a site here are some guidelines that will help you protect the site while you enjoy it.

  • Treat the site and the rock art with the same respect you would give a religious or sacred place…that’s what it is.
  • Don’t touch the images. The oils from your skin will damage them over time and the abrasion of your fingers can actually remove images from the rock.
  • Don’t remove anything from the site. That cigarette at the foot of the cliff may not be litter but a tobacco offering; that dollar bill was not “lost”…they may have been left by modern Indians to honor the spiritual power of the rock art (of course if you're sure its litter, take it out with you).
  • If there is a trail stay on it. If there is not a trail try not to make one.
  • Don’t trespass on private property.
  • Don’t share the location of non-public sites with others.
  • Don’t make “rubbings” or “contact prints”. This very often causes irreparable harm.
  • Do take photographs or make sketches of the images and feel free to show them to your friends and family.
  • Final Note: Have a good time, be safe, and act responsibly. Take time to enjoy the setting, the culture, the fresh air… and remember, its about appreciating, respecting, and preserving prehistoric rock art that is sacred to the people who made it.
The rock art has been there for thousands of years… with your help it can still be there a thousand years from now.

(The images above are from rock art sites along the Columbia River in Washington and Oregon).

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