Aug 29, 2006

religious vandals deface petroglyphs at Qajartalik

I visited Writing-on-Stone this summer, the fabulous collection of petroglyphs in southern Alberta, and was amazed at the vandalization that has wrecked ancient images, mostly by stupid tourists wanting to leave their own eternal mark. As a result, this story resonates strongly.
More than 170 mask-like images, animal shapes and other symbols have been recorded on the island since the 1960s. Studies suggest Qajartalik was a sacred place, used for Dorset spiritual ceremonies and coming-of-age rituals.

But the site has been dubbed "the Island of the Stone Devils" because some of the faces -- possibly depicting a Dorset shaman in religious costume -- appear to be adorned with horns. In the past, crosses have been scratched on the "pagan" petroglyphs and some area residents have told researchers they believe the site is infested with evil spirits.

Long-running negotiations between Nunavut, Quebec and the federal government over the ownership of the Hudson Strait islands has delayed for a decade plans to protect the cultural treasure, which Arctic scholars have touted as a natural candidate to become a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Two ancient African rock art sites achieved that status earlier this summer, and Canada recently short-listed Alberta's Writing-on-Stone petroglyphs for a UNESCO designation.
One could write an entire book on the destruction of art by sick ideologues.

[link via Jesse Walker]

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