Respect for what’s pristine, ancient and beautiful seems to be a personal characteristic fewer and fewer people possess. Back in May, we brought two mind-boggling decisions at Yellowstone Park to your attention, only to discover that, one month later, tourists were still disobeying the laws that were not only created to preserve nature, but also to keep visitors safe. Around that same time, we also launched a “Art vs. Vandalism”-debate, after Casey Nocket’s defacing of national parklands.
For the latest episode in this tale of dishonoring ancienity, we are taking you to Scandinavia. Because that’s where, after 5,000 years, two Norwegian youths decided that it was time to “improve” one of their country’s most internationally known symbols: a stone-age rock carving of a figure on skis, on the northern island of Tro off Nordland County. The carving is one of the earliest evidences of skiing by stone-age man, and inspired the symbol for the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics.
The two minor boys told investigators they intended to make the carving “clearer for other visitors.” According to local mayor Bård Anders Langø, the “refurbishment” was indeed done “out of good intentions. I don’t think they understood how serious it was.”
However, the mayor also pointed out that other ancient rock carvings had also been damaged, sparking outrage on social media, with many calls for punishment. And even though it’s all presumed to be “a youthful mistake,” the pair could indeed face criminal charges. Trying to stay one step ahead, a public apology statement was issued. “We have talked to the perpetrators and their families and they want to apologize for what they have done,” Langø concludes.
“This is a quite serious violation,” Tor-Kristian Storvik, the Nordland County chief archaeologist County told The Telegraph. He rushed to the site to survey the damage immediately after someone telephoned him to report the defacings. “It’s a sad, sad story. The new lines are both in and outside where the old marks had been. We will never again be able to experience these carvings again the way we have for the last 5,000 years.”
How ever sad and serious it all is, there is one question we hope not to be the only ones to be asking: how on earth could this happen? How can two youths, even with good intent, freely reach one of the nation’s most precious heritages? Let’s hope that’s at least one lesson learned from this: if you value something so dearly, make sure kids and sharp objects can’t reach it.