Cultural Site Etiquette
Do your part to help preserve archaeological sites. There are 5 key things that many people don't know and the rest are obvious.
1. Walls are fragile and continually deteriorating. Climbing, sitting or standing on walls can damage them. Also, picking up or moving rocks alters the walls forever.
2. Oils from even the cleanest hands can cause deterioration of prehistoric drawings and destroys the dating potential for future scientists trying to unravel the meaning of symbols painted and pecked on stone. Please refrain from touching rock art.
3. Artifacts, in context (where they lie), tell a story. Once they are moved, a piece of the past is destroyed forever. Digging, removing artifacts, or piling them up changes what can be learned from these pieces of the past.
4. Cultural deposits, including the soil in an archaeological site, are important for scientific tests and are used in reconstructing past environments. For instance, from such information we can learn what kinds of plants the inhabitants were utilizing. Please carry out any trash (especially organic remains) you may have brought while visiting a site.
5. Fragile desert plants and soils that are part of archaeological sites are destroyed when you stray from the trail. Also, snakes and other small desert animals make their homes in the bushes, under rocks and in burrows . . . (you might disturb them). Please stay on trails . . . they are there for your protection.
What most people already know:
* Fire destroys prehistoric organic materials, impairs the dating potential of artifacts and damages or even destroys rock art by covering it with soot. Absolutely no fires, candles, or smoking should occur at archaeological sites.
* Graffiti (drawing/painting, scratching, and carving) is destructive of rock art and stone buildings. There will be generations of people visiting these sites after your. Graffiti always ruins the pleasure of seeing 1000+ year old drawings.
* Pets can damage sites by digging, urinating and defecating in them. They can destroy fragile cultural deposits and frighten other visitors and native animals. Please do not bring pets onto archaeological sites.
* Camping and Driving: Be aware of your surroundings when you are outdoors. Avoid driving or riding your bicycle through sites. Do not pitch your camp in a site. Dismantling historic buildings for firewood or any other use is dangerous and illegal. Do not camp or build campfires in historic buildings.
* Archaeological Protection Laws: All archaeological sites on public (federal and state) lands are protected by the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, and state laws that prohibit digging, removing artifacts, damaging, and/or defacing archaeological resources. These laws provide for both prosecution with imprisonment and fines. State laws also protect human remains and grave goods on both public and private land.
* Vandalism: If you see people vandalizing sites, please report it as soon as possible by calling 1-800-VANDALS. Obtain as much information about the people without putting yourself in danger. Do not confront them! They may be dangerous.