Friday, June 24, 2016


Ute panel, Sego Canyon,
Utah. Photograph: Peter
Faris, August, 1993.

Left side of Ute panel, Sego
             Canyon, Utah. Photograph:
              Peter Faris, August, 1993.

We all have seen examples of rock art panels badly vandalized in many different ways, and we know of cases that have been reported from all over the world. I was recently looking at rock art photographs online and ran across a photo of the wonderful Ute Indian pictograph panel  from Sego Canyon, Utah, a site I have visited a number of times. I thought this photograph looked different than I remembered so I went into my files and found a photograph that I had taken of the same panel in August, 1993. I present both photographs here for your perusal, and to illustrate my premise of the importance of not only recording rock art, but of making those records available to other students of the field for comparison.

At this level I can see two alterations to the panel right off. The first is the addition of the name Jesus above the shield in the center. The second alteration is the apparent addition of a ring of white hand prints around the shield on the left.

In my 1993 photograph of this panel the large initials "F.B." can already be seen so that vandalism occurred prior to that year. Scanning photographs online of this panel I found one taken between 2003 and 2007 according to its labeling that has the name "Jesus" added but no hand prints around the shield on the left. So we can probably assume that the name "Jesus" was added between 1993 and the 2003-7 period. The hand prints appeared after the 2003-7 period. In this way we can begin to chart the progressing cumulative vandalism of this important panel. Indeed, a person could make quite a project out of accumulating a number of photographs of the same panel over a broad span of years and record the history of its desecration. If anyone out there has any further information on the apparent vandalism of this important rock art panel I would be happy to hear it. Let me know!

NOTE: I would be remiss in not mentioning the possibility that the hand prints could have been added to a photograph of the panel digitally (i.e. Photoshopped), but I am not skilled enough with computers to detect such alteration. If this were the case I hope someone will also let me know that.

NOTE: Digital copies of all my rock art photographs, with the pertinent information on time and place, are in the Colorado Rock Art Archives at the Pueblo Regional Library, Pueblo, Colorado.

The photo with added hand prints was found at the website .


  1. Now here's a tricky question. If the handprints were added by someone of Ute descent would it still be considered graffiti, or just tradition?

    1. Randy, Good question. Australian aboriginal clans have members whose traditional job is to renew the rock art by repainting it when needed, and these are still considered authentic. My background is Scotch/Irish, but if I were to touch up a panel in either of those countries I would expect to be arrested. The best answer I can give you is "it depends."

    2. Good question Randy. Australian aboriginal tribes have members whose traditional role is to "renew" old rock art by repainting it, and that is considered authentic. My background is Scotch/Irish but if I touched up a rock art panel in either of those countries I would expect to be arrested. I suppose my answer can only be "It depends."