Including Original "Paul H. Letters" Copyright © 1996-2018 Paul V. Heinrich - All rights reserved.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Secret Maps and Petroglyphs 5NOV2010

Secret Maps and Petroglyphs

In relation to “secret maps” of archaeological sites, E.P. wrote:

"Yes, they exist but their use is restricted to professional archaeologists. One problem is looting, and even petroglyphs have been cut from walls with saws. The other problem is vandalism."

E. P. is correct about maps of archaeological sites do exist. and are kept by specific federal and state agencies that have large tracts of land, which they manage and the State Historical Office for each of the various states in the United States. They are not "secret" in the sense that it is well known that such maps exist. It is just that they can be accessed and consulted only by
professional archaeologists and other people, who have an official need to know the location of
known archaeological sites for either research, land management, firefighting, or other official purposes.

E.P. also stated:

"So if you want to photograph petroglyphs, Thomas, the only way to do it will be with the help of a professional archaeologist."

There is nothing wrong in photographing rock art as long as nothing is done to the rock art. The problem comes iswhen people enhance the rock art, i.e. by outlining it in chalk or applying liquids, in order to make it stand out. Such actions can very easily and all too often does damage the rock art.

1. Photographing Rock Art on Archeological Sites and Rock
Walls by Morey Stinson.


2. Rock Art Site Etiquette

3. American Rock Research Association
A Basic Guide for Rock Art Recording, 5 MB

4. Ethics, Eastern States Rock Art Research Association

"You should not apply any substance such as liquid, powder, plastic, chalk, cloth, soil, or paper to enhance photography or drawing. Despite the ability to enhance photography, application of
materials to rock art surfaces may forever alter its integrity. This has been found to be particularly true in radiometric age estimation of rock surfaces."

E.P. noted:

"FOIA does not apply."

This is true. For a detailed discussion of this topic see:

U.S. Department of Energy, 2008, The Freedom of Information Act and Confidentiality of Cultural Resources. Environmental Policy and Assistance Information Brief HS-22-IB-2008-13 (December 31, 2008). Office of Nuclear Safety, Quality Assurance, and Environment, Washington, D.C.

PDF file at:

"NHPA and ARPA specifically restrict disclosure of certain types of sensitive information regarding cultural resources. These statutory provisions may result in information developed under these acts being withheld from public disclosure under the FOIA exemption discussed above."

NHPA = National Historic Preservation Act
ARPA = Archaeological Resources Protection Act


Paul H.

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