Vandalism and Falsification of Rock Art

Especially in this time of a dangerously increasing amount of online (deep) fake-news, outrageous lies, falsified photos and misleading information that are used to – for instance – “justify” a disgusting and horrible war in Europe, it should not be tolerated that similar falsifications are being used in scientific publications by academic professionals. In the following two publications I expose and criticize some of those falsifications in rock art publications, focusing on the Majes Falsification. Updated 24 July 2022.

By Maarten van Hoek



The Majes Falsification Updated

The Inconvenient Truth


Maarten van Hoek


Abstract: Prof. Scaffidi, Prof. Tung and Prof. Turner are fooling their readers. Moreover, on the 23rd of July 2022 I received an email from Mr. Michael Streeter (Director, Research Integrity & Publishing Ethics – Wiley) who wrote that Wiley considered the matter closed: no changes to the published Erratum. Thus, also Mr. Streeter and Publisher Wiley approve of the falsified illustrations published by Scaffidi and Tung and approved by Turner.


Please read carefully the following update that shows them completely wrong!





In November 2020 I found out that a publication by Prof. Scaffidi and Prof. Tung contained two intentionally falsified photos of rock art panels from the Majes Valley in southern Peru (read their 2020-paper, available at Academia, especially the caption of Fig. 3). In November 2020 I commented on their falsification (Van Hoek 2020), while – also in November 2020 – an academic archaeologist wrote me that Scaffidi and Tung would be writing an Erratum to be published in the same Journal.

I waited many months, but no Erratum was published. Ultimately, by the end of February 2022 (thus after 15 months!), I wrote the Editor of the Journal – Prof. Dr. Trudy Turner – and asked her assistance in this matter. However, no answer from the Editor. Therefore I wrote her again in March and – finally – on March 21-2022 I got her answer stating that an Erratum would be published by the end of May 2022. I wrote her back on March 22 (CC to Scaffidi and Tung!) and raised a few urgent points for which I asked her answers, especially asking for the full-size, original, unaltered photos of the two rock art panels. But from then on no answer from her (or anyone-else). And no Erratum by the end of May! And no original photos!

Therefore, on the 6th of June 2022 I wrote three USA guardians of integrity that are supposed to monitor instances of falsification in scientific publications. Again, not a single positive reaction. Therefore, on the 17th of July 2022 I published my updated thoughts about this situation (check the info immediately below this paragraph) and fortunately got an immediate response (I wonder why) on the 18th of July from Mrs. Greenough (Journals Publisher of the relevant Journal, Wiley) confirming that an Erratum would be published shortly.

Full details and all relevant illustrations are available (published on the17th of July 2022 in TRACCE): Van Hoek, M. 2022. Vandalism and Falsification of Rock Art: A Matter of Integrity. PDF available at ResearchGate, and on YouTube (, and on two online reports: my first report at TRACCE (2020):, an update at TRACCE (2022): and on my personal web page:

On the 19th of July 2022 I answered Mrs. Greenough (CC to Scaffidi, Tung and Turner!) that I expected (again) that (among other things) the original, unaltered photos would be sent to me promptly and before the publication of the Erratum. I never got an answer from Mrs. Greenough, but the day after my email to Mrs. Greenough I got an email from Prof. Dr. Turner (dated the 20th of July)  (her first email to me after four months!) with a link to the published Erratum. Reading her email the next day (the 21st of July 2022) I immediately emailed her back writing “If this Erratum will not be deleted immediately, I will continue to publish information about the scandalous, intentional falsification by Scaffidi and Tung, which I CAN PROVE despite their lame Erratum. It is obvious to me (and everyone-else!) that they intentionally ignored my published photos and drawings completely when writing their Erratum.” Importantly however, no-one ever sent me the original, unaltered photos. A very obstructive attitude of Scaffidi, Tung and Turner.

Now you wonder why I would publish this “The Majes Falsification Revised” paper when an Erratum was published after all. Why? Please read on. The situation gets even more absurd.


About the Erratum

The Erratum written and published by Tung and Scaffidi (source) is completely unsatisfactory and enormously evasive. First of all Scaffidi and Tung intentionally ignored all my emails and all my publications regarding their falsification.  I published several drawings and photos of the two rock art panels and informed them about those drawings and photos (via emails, via CC emails and via my publications: see above). However, they preferred to ignore all my drawings,  all my photos, all my emails and all my publications and as a result their published Erratum is demonstrably seriously misleading. Their Erratum is a ridiculous attempt to distract any uninformed reader from The Inconvenient Truth.

I am certain that if  I would not have published my 2020-report, the falsification would have remained unnoticed. And if  I would not have pursued this awkward case in March 2022 by contacting the Editor – Prof. Dr. Turner – nothing would have happened at all. However, the sad result of my actions is that only a completely inadequate and misleading Erratum was published in July 2022. Therefore, in July 2022 I directly asked the Editor to delete the online version of the Erratum, but this never happened and a new Erratum – that I can approve of – was never published. Moreover, on the 23 of July 2022 I received an email from Mr. Michael Streeter (Director, Research Integrity & Publishing Ethics – Wiley) who wrote that Wiley considered the matter closed: no changes to the published Erratum. Thus, also Mr. Streeter and Publisher Wiley approve of the incorrect illustrations published by Scaffidi and Tung and approved by Turner.

Thus (again) Scaffidi, Tung,Turner and Mr. Streeter all seem to accept lies and falsifications!  I hold the three academic “scientists” (not Myke Scaffidi for generating the petroglyph line drawings) responsible for allowing falsifications being published and thus denying and rejecting The Inconvenient Truth: Scientists work with facts, not with falsifications and lies.

Now I will start with dealing with the factual text of their Erratum. After that I will discuss the photos-issue. They wrote in their Erratum: “This is an open-source plugin to the free and open source Image J software, commonly used to perform decorrelation stretching in various false color composites of rock art to enhance lines otherwise invisible in RGB images (e.g., Quesada & Harman, 2019).” This remark is completely irrelevant and does not address my concerns, not even when referring to “to enhance lines otherwise invisible”. I will return to this “enhance” issue later on.

Both panels are well-known among Majes Valley inhabitants and are still present at their respective sites for interested observers to visit and conduct their own image analysis and interpretations.” Also this remark is completely irrelevant and does not address my alarms at all.

More disturbing is their following remark (my emphases and additions [in black]): “The authors suggest that the figures are holding human trophy heads [plural??] in their right hands, an interpretation based on Nuñez Jimenéz [should read Núñez Jiménez; who – moreover – never recorded the panel at Alto de Pitis] (1986) and the authors’ own bioarchaeological and archaeological research in the region.” Scaffidi and Tung must be aware by now (being able to read my emails and all my publications) that I never made a point of the Trophy Head being correctly drawn by them or not. Again, the main point is that they introduced a weapon into their discussion that does not exist at all (not in any of my published illustrations, and not even in their D-Stretched image). Seeing a “weapon” on the (manipulated, D-Stretched) photo of the Toro Muerto panel (their Figure 3a) is just wishful thinking, which is intolerable when this is published as a fact by any academic scientist. It proves that in this way the authors desperately ignored all my remarks, all my illustrations and the illustration by Núñez Jiménez (all sent CC to them and all published: see the information above). Backed by their Editor (who accepted the Erratum knowing my concerns in detail), Scaffidi and Tung thus deviously avoid to address the true issues in their Erratum and thus continue to fool their readers.

Again, I am still appalled that Scaffidi and Tung refer (in their 2020-paper and in their Erratum) to the otherwise correct drawing by Núñez Jiménez (see Figure 1) to prove their point by only focussing on Trophy Heads. However, Scaffidi and Tung are demonstrably incorrect because also the drawing by Núñez Jiménez definitely shows no weapon. Why referring to his illustration and why referring to my 2010-paper (also showing the correct illustrations) and then intentionally ignoring the facts? It proves that in this way Scaffidi and Tung desperately ignore the drawing by Núñez Jiménez, all my remarks, all my illustrations and all my comments (all sent CC to them and all published: see the information above) and thus deviously are misinforming and deceiving the readers of their 2020-paper and their Erratum.

Then their final remark (again my emphasis): “Readers are encouraged to examine the DStretched images below, along with the tracings that were in the original article and evaluate on their own whether they agree with our interpretation that those are trophy heads or not.” Again, the issue does not concern the Trophy Head. The issue is that their published – and original – photos are superimposed by completely incorrect “tracings” (moreover introducing a non-existent weapon), both apparently based on one of their D-Stretched photos. This brings me to discuss their D-Stretched photos, especially because their remark addresses another serious issue.

Readers are encouraged to examine the DStretched images below, along with the tracings that were in the original article …..”. It is scandalous of Scaffidi and Tung to ask any reader to examine the D-stretched images and their published photos (2020: Figs 3a and b). First of all, all “four” photos are far too small to allow a proper examination. That is why I published my full-size photos. My photos show the factual layout of the two petroglyphs.

But that is not all. Scaffidi and Tung did not include the original, unaltered photos in their Erratum, while those unaltered photos were published in their 2020-paper (digitally superimposed by their incorrect “tracings”). However, in their Erratum they only use altered photos! In this way Scaffidi and Tung do not allow any reader to make an honest comparison. I anticipated trouble in this respect (disrespect). That is the reason why I repeatedly asked for the original, unaltered photos to be sent to me. In my email of the 21st of July 2022 to Prof. Turner I again asked for the original, unaltered photos and wrote her that “If you or Scaffidi are not prepared to send me those photos, I will consider that as intentional obstruction.” At this moment (writing 24rd July 2022) I still have not seen any original, unaltered photo in my email box. Therefore, I now reveal (again) The Inconvenient Truth in this current report.

There is a final but important issue regarding the D-Stretched photos in the Erratum by Scaffidi and Tung. I know from experience that the – otherwise excellent – program by Harman is not very suitable at all to enhance photos of petroglyphs. The many different possibilities yield very different results. Often lines or features will show up that are not at all part of the ancient petroglyph and especially those natural rock features are easily incorporated as if parts of the petroglyph. Now, with so many variable outcomes it is easy to select a suitable result to suit your needs and to legalize your (fabricated) theories. Thus the two altered, D-Stretched photos in their Erratum only distract the reader from The Inconvenient Truth. Their falsification is definitely not a case of “enhancing the readability” of the two “photos”. They added items that do not exist (a weapon) and they changed the factual layout of both images considerably and built misleading conclusions upon their “photos”. Finally, they published those falsifications and their misleading conclusions in their 2020-text.

Importantly, the Erratum works with only two photos that both are altered (!) photos, while strangely and confusingly their Erratum speaks of four photos (two at the top) and two “bottom” images. Any reader of their Erratum will search in vain for the two “bottom” images. Another way to mislead any reader. Throughout the whole Erratum Scaffidi and Tung are pathetically creating a (false!) impression of providing truthful information (hence the overkill of irrelevant information). However, they do not admit in the Erratum that their “tracings”are incorrect !


Final Conclusions

Both the publication of the paper by Scaffidi and Tung (2020) and their misleading and evasive Erratum (2022) – based on manipulated D-Stretched photos only – are strongly damaging and undermining science in general and the prestige and status of Scaffidi and Tung and in particular of their Editor, Prof. Dr. Turner.  If I would have been the Editor, I would have forced Scaffidi and Tung to write a truthful Erratum. Scaffidi, Tung and Turner were well informed, well in time (and several times) about the situation and especially about my wish to receive the original and unaltered photos and yet all my requests have been completely and repeatedly and obstructively ignored by all three academics. Why?

Why am I not allowed to check the original photos?

Even without having the possibility to check their original, unaltered photos, it is a fact that their Erratum is completely worthless. It does not in any way address the issues that I raised (and repeatedly emailed Scaffidi, Tung and Turner). In their 2020-paper and their 2022-Erratum Scaffidi and Tung seriously and negatively deceive and manipulate their readers (and they are backed by their Editor). They only focus on the photos and Trophy Heads, completely ignoring the absurd conclusions in the text of their 2020-paper.

Moreover, in the Erratum Scaffidi and Tung do not admit that their illustrations (2020: Fig. 3) are incorrect. They do not admit that my illustrations (and Núñez Jiménez’ drawing) are correct (see Figure 1). In this way Scaffidi and Tung persist in claiming that their published 2020-illustrations and conclusions are correct. Well, they are not, and I proved it. Scaffidi and Tung are lying to their readers and they are negatively manipulating their readers by pretending and claiming – via their 2020-paper and via their 2022-Erratum – that their illustrations are still correct. Well, they are not!

Figure 1: The Toro Muerto petroglyph. A: After Núñez Jiménez (1986: Fig. 2304). B: After Van Hoek (2010: Fig. 2). C: After Scaffidi and Tung (2020: Fig 3a). Drawings “A” and “B” referred to by Scaffidi and Tung!

Despite the huge differences between drawings “B” and “C”, drawing “C” is still accepted by Tung and Scaffidi and Turner and Streeter as the one and only correct rendering. Mind you, the issue does not concern the Trophy Head, but the completely incorrect drawing “C”, which also introduces a non-existent “weapon”.

In their Erratum Scaffidi and Tung write: “Readers are encouraged to examine the DStretched images below, along with the tracings that were in the original article …..”. Alternatively, I ask unbiased readers to examine the illustrations published by Scaffidi and Tung (2020: Fig. 3) and compare them with my photos, drawings and with Núñez Jiménez’ drawing (1986) (see Figure 1 above). Any person of integrity then must admit that Scaffidi and Tung are lying. Their illustrations and their conclusions about the rock art are incorrect. And anyone who has had or will have the integrity to indeed fully read my reports and check all the illustrations that I (and Núñez Jiménez) have published, should have the integrity and courage to tell everyone (and me) that I am correct! I wonder who will back me (and not back-stabbing me, only being the messenger)!

Again, I do not rest my case. Further actions may be expected.


¿ Quiere usted fortalecer su caracter ?…

¡  No abandone la lucha simplemente porque sea dificil  !…

Roy Chapman Andrews


Below you will find the report that I published earlier in July 2022




Vandalism and Falsification of Rock Art

A Matter of Integrity



Maarten van Hoek




It is generally accepted among rock art researchers that ancient rock art sites – wherever located and no matter how unpretentious (in our minds only!) – should be treasured as Sacred Sites and that Sacred Images and Sacred Sites should therefore be respected and protected. Unfortunately, the great majority of the visitors to a rock art site are not rock art researchers, but governmental officials, locals and tourists. Those three groups of people are often not aware of the enormous cultural value of rock art, or – even worse – they are aware, but still prefer not to show any respect at all. Both ignorance and intentional vandalism too often results in the most unwanted partial or complete destruction of Sacred Sites or desecration of individual rock art panels. Although vandalism is a global problem, this study only focusses on the extremely dry coastal strip west of the High Andes in South America; the area called the Desert Andes.

Even when officially protected, rock art sites run the risk of being violated because it proves that even at legally protected sites visitors continue to add graffiti or “enhance” images in several – most destructive – ways. It also proves that the more accessible and more advertised a site is (Yonán), the more unwanted vandalism occurs. In this respect it is also disadvantageous that an increasing number of dirt tracks in the Desert Andes become asphalted and that recently erected signs along the road announce archaeological sites, including rock art sites. However, even rock art sites that are hard to find increasingly suffer from vandalism (Cerro Utua). It also makes no difference whether or not a site is officially controlled by a warden who is present at a site. For instance, it is impossible for a warden to monitor every visitor to every corner of extensive rock art sites like Toro Muerto and Miculla in the south of Peru.

Therefore, authorities and the general public, especially locals, should be made aware about the immeasurable value of rock art and rock art sites. But it even proves that – in fortunately only some exceptional cases – also academics do not act responsibly regarding the recording and presentation of rock art images in their publications. Therefore, in this paper I will not only discuss the various types of physical on-site vandalism, but I will also compare vandalism caused by an (academic) visitor to a rock art site with digital malpractices by academics. Finally, at the end of only the PDF-version of the paper (only available at ResearchGate) several instances of vandalism will be (graphically) presented through a large number of photographs.


Types of Vandalism

Although in general (only?!) physically damaging a decorated rock surface is being considered to be an act of vandalism, there are many more types of activities that I consider to be vandalism. Over a distance of 3200 km my wife and I have seen numerous instances of vandalism at rock art sites all over the Desert Andes. It must be realised however that after our visit to a site, other people will have visited the site and consequently new vandalism may have occurred of which I am not aware or that I can only find out viewing internet-photos made more recently by other visitors (photos that I cannot publish without the author’s permission). In many countries world-wide vandalism to rock art sites is punishable by law and vandals should therefore be regarded to be criminals. However, there also is a grey area in which culpability is hard to pinpoint. Is the labourer who widens the road and unknowingly damages rock art culpable? Not in my view. The authorities are accountable. Unfortunately it is often hard to find out who exactly is responsible for the damage. What is more, people usually turn a blind eye towards even the tiniest of accusations.



First there is the partial or complete destruction of a Scared (rock art) Site. This often happens when a new road is being constructed (Cerro Pano: Van Hoek 2011a; Huaca Blanca: Van Hoek 2021a) or when existing dirt roads are being widened or asphalted. In many cases the people doing the construction or building are not aware of what the consequences are for the rock art panels that often are located down the slope. An illustrative example is Quilcapampa in the Sihuas Valley of southern Peru, where – over a distance of at least two kilometres – fallen rocks damaged several rock art panels (Van Hoek 2021b). However, the rock art at Quilcapampa is known for many decades and therefore local, regional and national authorities should have known the importance of their national heritage and should have taken adequate measurements to protect Quilcapampa. But the rock art was ignored. A similar problem occurs a few kilometres further east where a new highway from Arequipa to the Pan-americana is being constructed. This new road, the collateral damage of the constructing activities and even the proposed tunnel will seriously damage and violate the integrity of all archaeological sites in the area, especially the rock art site of La Caldera (Van Hoek 2022).

Also very destructive are quarrying activities. Many sites are destroyed or are seriously damaged by quarrying. Instances are found in both Peru and Chile, for instance at Huaca Blanca in the north of Peru, where many decorated boulder have been scratched and disturbed by heavy machinery (Van Hoek 2021a), Cerro San Simón in the north of Peru, Toro Muerto in the south of Peru and Rosario and Tamentica in the north of Chile. There also is a sort of small-scale quarrying when it concerns robbery of (parts of) decorated surfaces or the removal of isolated boulders from a Sacred Site (although commercial robbery is often very hard to prove). What is definitely a kind of commercial robbery is the looting (and thus destroying) of ancient burials. Even when no harm is done to the rock art in the looted area, I consider this activity as illegal and as a form of vandalism to a rock art site. A sad example is the burial-field inside the rock art site of Tomabal in the Virú Vally of northern Peru (Van Hoek 2007).


Unwanted Additions

Most visitors (locals and tourists) to a rock art site do not see the site as a whole and thus in most cases do not realise that it actually is a Sacred Site that is firmly integrated into a wide ancient cultural and religious landscape. Even scratching your name onto an untouched rock panel in a rock art site is a form of vandalism, as in this way the site becomes desecrated. People are inclined to “leave their mark” at a spot they have visited. However, there is a huge difference between marking a spot in prehistoric times and nowadays. Ancient manufacturers of rock art ritually sanctified the site (further), which is culturally completely understandable and acceptable. But some people nowadays blaspheme the spot, as they leave their marks “just for fun”, or to leave a message addressed to only a few people. There is no religious or spiritual intention whatsoever. A sad example are two anthropomorphic figures (one male, one female) scratched onto Boulder CAL-166 at the rock art site of La Caldera in southern Peru (Van Hoek 2022). Those figures – together with other recent graffiti on the panel – also represent unwanted graffiti, as they are part – together with the usual heart-symbol – of a recently added love message that is only adressed to two persons (of which the initials J and E are completely uninformative).

Indeed, initials, words, names, slogans, numbers and dates are the most common form of unwelcome graffiti. For that reason I also consider the numbers or signs that rock art researchers add to rock art panels as a most unwanted form of vandalism (Van Hoek 2017; Video). Graffiti may be randomly engraved into or painted onto the rock surface, which – in both cases – seriously damages the natural and cultural canvas and consequently violates the prehistoric message. In some cases the prehistoric images are intentionally (and often indecently) changed, like the petroglyph of a quadruped at Toro Muerto in southern Peru that has a phallus added (a motif which has nothing to do with fertility). In the extremely dry environment of the Desert Andes some visitors also use liquid (water, or something else they happen to carry with them) to enhance the art, which in all cases is most harmful to the art. In several cases a panel is stained with a sticky substance, which may prove to be permanent.

In all cases follow the following rule when visiting a rock art site: only leave your footsteps. Therefore, leaving rubbish at a site (empty bottles, cigarette-ends, cans or whatever) is also a form of disrespect and thus of vandalism. Compare this with a catholic who visits a church. She or he will not leave rubbish in the aisles or scratch the seats (at least I hope so). And in South America the majority of the people is catholic. When you respect your Church, also respect the prehistoric open air temples that rock art sites are.

Not only liquids are often used to enhance the art, many visitors intentionally scratch rock art images with a sharp (metal) object, while others use chalk or some kind of paint to “enhance” the art (as – unfortunately – often happens in Scandinavia). In one case I know of petroglyphs having been chalked-in, while the academic archaeologist who recorded the petroglyphs even justified his malpractice twice. It concerns a publication by archaeologist Paul Álvarez Zeballos (2009), in which he included several photos of petroglyphs at Alto de Pitis in southern Peru that he recorded and that he himself chalked-in. Álvarez Zeballos (2009: 29: my emphasis) justifies his malpractices as follows: “Para poder apreciar mejor las figuras se las marco con tizas alcalinas”. Besides this malpractice, Álvarez Zeballos also included photos of petroglyphs that have been chalked-in by him in an incorrect way, for instance Boulder AP4-017 (2009: 18), thus also publishing an incorrect drawing of his Boulder P-Ps-1: “Todas estas imágenes se encuentran semi-borradas y para resaltar su imagen se las repaso con tiza alcalina o básica.” (2009: 27: my emphasis). Any kind of on-site enhancement is destructive and should be avoided and discouraged. Some respected rock art journals even categorically reject the publication of photos of chalked-in rock art images (for instance: Rock art Research; see also Bednarik 1987).

In any case are on-site “enhancing” practices intolerable. First of all, the “enhancement” often distracts the observer from the original image. Moreover, not only is the art damaged and violated, in many cases the “job” is done incorrectly and imposes a subjective, often incorrect impression of the original image on any subsequent visitor. An enhancement like on-site chalking-in often superimposes an incorrect second layer. Unfortunately, also comparable digital malpractices occur (fortunately only very rarely).


Digital Falsifications

It is obvious that on-site chalking-in of petroglyphs creates a distracting and often incorrect interpretation of the factual image. Thus the result may be (highly) misleading. Also the recent adding of certain graphical elements to an existing prehistoric petroglyph results in a false image. A good example is the recent addition of a phallus to a sophisticated prehistoric image of a quadruped on a boulder at Toro Muerto in southern Peru. It conveys false information, especially as in desert environments patina may form very rapidly and the recent character of the phallus will soon disappear. Future visitors to Toro Muerto may not notice the falsification.

I now stress that on-site creating or on-line publication of any kind of false information is intolerable. Unfortunately, nowadays the creation of false information and fake-illustrations is also very easily achievable digitally. What is more, any falsification can simply be published on the internet as if the information is correct. Yet, also academic scientists (very!) occasionally publish intentionally falsified illustrations. The problem is now that, when academic scientists intentionally fabricate and publish false information, their readers are being deceived, because they will take the information (often in a respected journal) for granted (they have no choice) and in most instances the reader cannot check the information in the field. It is then inevitable that the falsification is being accepted by the reader, as if it is correct and – moreover – that the forgery is distributed further. Therefore, anybody who spots such a published falsification should take action to stop this unwanted process.

(Un)fortunately I know of (only) three instances of publications so far in which intentionally falsified illustrations of rock art panels are presented as being correct. All three concern publications by academic scientists. These three instances will now be discussed.


The Palamenco Falsification

The first digital falsification that I stumbled upon (in 2009) concerns a published photograph of the best-known petroglyph at Palamenco, a major, isolated rock art site in northern Peru. The Palamenco petroglyph in question depicts a complex, fully frontally depicted anthropomorphic figure of the MSC-Style (for more information about the MSC-Style in Desert Andes rock art see Van Hoek 2011b). The problem started with the fact that Núñez Jiménez published an incorrect drawing of this Palamenco petroglyph in his book (1986: Fig: 1053). There are several inaccuracies, but the major error concerns the layout of the left-hand leg and foot. In the drawing by Núñez Jiménez the feet and the leg-faces face in opposite directions (Van Hoek 2011b: 71). However, in reality the left-hand foot has claws that point to the right. Thus – despite being weathered – it is a fact that the claws of each foot point into the same direction. Moreover, each leg shows a profile face, which in reality both face to the right as well. An academic archaeologist published a photo that was digitally manipulated in such a way that it matched the illustration by Núñez Jiménez, not realising that in this way he copied the errors by Núñez Jiménez and published and distributed a misleading photo. In the digitally falsified photo it is still possible to discern details that are mirrored on one side, which proves that the right-hand leg-foot was digitally copied, then digitally mirrored and then pasted onto the left-hand leg, only with the intention to match the otherwise incorrect illustration by Núñez Jiménez (Van Hoek 2011: 64). Importantly, this falsification had a misplaced purpose!

Figure 1. Drawing of the Palamenco Petroglyph. A: According to Núñez Jiménez (1968: Fig. 1053). B: According to me. Drawings © by Maarten van Hoek.

Shortly after the publication of the falsified photo the author acted respectably and ethically admitted the malpractice and – what is even more honourable – he apologised in public on the internet. Unfortunately the book in which the falsification was published, is still available and thus still offers misleading information. It is a matter of integrity (an internal mechanism that an increasing number of people seem to have lost or simply prefer to ignore) to acknowledge, expose and fight falsifications and fake news, especially as in this chaotic century – writing July 2022 – fake news and outrageous lies are dangerously booming. Lies even “justified” a most disgusting “peace” invasion (a war started by the Russians). The only (huge) difference between fabricated Z-photos and the falsified “photos” of Majes petroglyphs is a matter of scale!


The Marcas Falsification

A few years later – in 2016 – I came across a slightly different example of photo-falsification. In an online article by Professor Eucadio Gutiérrez Solano (an academic?), published in February 2016, information about a new rock art site in southern Peru was presented (source). The article was accompanied by a photo, which was claimed to show the new rock art site of “Marcas II” in the valley of the Río San Juan, east of Chincha, southern Peru. However, it proved that the only petroglyph panel (which was moreover horizontally flipped!) visible in the photo is in fact located at Huancor, a major rock art site a few kilometres to the WSW of Marcas.

In 2016 I reported this falsification to Diego Martínez Celis, editor of “Rupestreweb”, and my short note was published on the website “Rupestrerias” of Martínez Celis as follows: Publicado el 8 de Abril de 2016 en “Rupesterias”, Blog de Diego Martínez Celis, Editor-moderador de Rupestreweb: Advertencia de foto trucada de los petroglifos de ‘Marcas’ (Huachos, Perú). En efecto, el lugar en la foto A es el nuevo sitio rupestre de Marcas (II) en el Valle de San Juan, Chincha, pero el panel con petroglifos (marcado con una flecha amarilo en la foto A) es un panel con petroglifos en el sitio rupestre de Huancor (ubicación original marcado con una flecha amarilo en la foto B). However, I was unpleasantly surprised that my contribution to “Rupestrerias” was deleted by Martínez Celis in July 2016, without any explanation. Clicking the URL only resulted in: “la página que estabas buscando en este blog no existe”. I emailed Martínez Celis about this matter, but I never got any explanation/answer from him (it thus looks as if – on second thoughts – he tolerated the falsification).

Figure 2. Photo ‘A’ published in Rupestrerias 2016. Photo ‘B’ © by Maarten van Hoek.


The Majes Falsification

The third example of publication of falsified photos of rock art is more disturbing and also most unexpected, as it concerns a publication by two academic bio-archaeologists, Prof. Beth Koontz Scaffidi (School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA) and Prof. Tifiny Tung (Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA). Their research paper was called: “Endemic violence in a pre-Hispanic Andean community: A bioarchaeological study of cranial trauma from the Majes Valley, Peru. It was published in the respected American Journal of Physical Anthropology; Issue January 2020; pp. 1-24. In their paper the authors published two “photos” onto which they intentionally superimposed incorrect images, thus creating two falsified photos. The main scam concerns the fact that they added a weapon to the image (compare this with the addition of a phallus to a petroglyph at Toro Muerto!).

Their falsification could only have been done to “justify” their – otherwise incorrect and misleading – conclusions regarding the content and meaning of certain images of the rock art of the Majes Valley (which I also lengthily demonstrated to be completely wrong: see Van Hoek 2021). It seems that Scaffidi and Tung are obsessed with violence in Majes and will do anything to prove their point. They may be right about occasional (ritual?) violence in local communities, but they are definitely incorrect about violence in Majes rock art (again: see Van Hoek 2021). In this respect it is relevant that – in November 2020 – an academic archaeologist emailed me about this matter and wrote (and I quote): “As for the Scaffidi and Tung paper, I said …… that your argument about the rock art was correct.  I do think that the authors see violence everywhere – they interpreted some headdresses as helmets that I doubt functioned as so.and …I also thought you were correct in calling out the writing over of the rock art in the image and in the introduction of a weapon that does not appear in the original.

Adding imaginary items onto a photo of a rock art image is only a digital variant to the incorrectly chalking-in of petroglyphs in the field and/or adding non-existent items. Yet, I find their falsifications much more deceitful because the authors are in this way misleading their readers who cannot check the original photos, nor the original petroglyph panels in the field. The unaware readers of their paper have no other choice then to take their false graphical presentations and their incorrect textual conclusions for granted.

I do not know whether Prof. Scaffidi and Prof. Tung have seen and photographed the two panels (that are 7279.17 m distant) in the field themselves (this seems to be very unlikely, however), but I know that I have. In various papers and books I hitherto published several photos/drawings of those two panels, which all prove that the photos published by Prof. Scaffidi and Prof. Tung are intentional falsifications. For that reason I published an online paper in November 2020 (Van Hoek 2020) in which I (also graphically) demonstrated that their illustrations are intentional falsifications. I also immediately emailed the two authors – and repeatedly many times since then – but I never got any response. It proves that some people prefer to submerge themselves in the well-known Egyptian river! And they are not the only ones!

Figure 3A: My drawing of the Toro Muerto falsification by Scaffidi and Tung (based on Scaffidi and Tung 2020: Photo 3a). The question mark indicates the added “weapon”. B: My drawing of the factual petroglyph (see Van Hoek 2010). C: My photo of the original petroglyph. All illustrations © by Maarten van Hoek.

More illustrations in the PDF-version at ResearchGate.

Also in November 2020 a colleague (an academic archaeologist) informed me (and I quote): “In any case, it is my understanding that Scaffidi and Tung are writing a short erratum that would be published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.” However, more than a year passed by and yet no Erratum was published anywhere. Therefore, in February and March 2022, I wrote to the Editor of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology – Prof. Dr. Trudy Turner – politely asking her (twice) for her assistance (all those emails were also sent CC to Prof. Tung and Prof. Scaffidi – yet [again] without any reaction).

Fortunately, in her email of the 21st of March 2022 Prof. Dr. Trudy Turner promised me that an Erratum would be published and that the publication of “the Erratum may take a month or two” (thus it would be published online before the end of May 2022) and finally in “her” Journal. On the 22nd of March I answered her that I also expected that the two authors would acknowledge in their Erratum that not only the photos had intentionally been falsified by them, but also that their conclusions regarding the rock art are completely absurd and incorrect. I also asked her to send me the original, untouched photos. By the end of May 2022 I had not received any answer or any original, unaltered photo from her (mind you: “Original unprocessed images must be provided by authors” [source]).



Not having received anything from Prof. Dr. Turner, in the first week of June 2022 I continued my fight against the intentional graphical falsification of “photos” of Majes rock art (and misleading fake information based thereon). Via email I informed three official institutions in the USA that are supposed to monitor instances of lack of integrity and/or malpractices in scientific publications. It concerns the following three offices that I wrote jointly on June the 6th – 2022.

1) The Wiley Publication Ethics Team. URL.

2) The Council of Science Editors. URL.

3) The Office of Research Integrity. URL.

The 7th of June 2022 I received the following answer from The Office of Research Integrity: “The questioned paper in your email was supported by non PHS funds and, therefore, falls outside ORI’s jurisdiction. ORI will not take any further action in this matter.” The 7th of June 2022  I also received the following answer from Wiley: “Kindly allow us to look further into your query and we will get back to you as soon as we have an update.” However, I never received any further update or email from Wiley. Moreover, The Council of Science Editors did not even answer at all. It proved that the three instances that I considered to represent guardians of integrity of scientific publications were not interested. Thus they all seem to accept the falsifications!

By mid-July 2022 I still had not received any answer from the two remaining “guardians” (The Wiley Publication Ethics Team and The Council of Science Editors), nor from Scaffidi, Tung or Turner. Therefore, I stopped waiting for decent answers or an appropriate Erratum and published this full report on TRACCE, an updated report on my personal web site and a video on YouTube.

Ignoring a falsification (in other words: uncritically accepting fake information), but also disrespectfully ignoring a (my) person is a matter of lack of integrity. Scaffidi, Tung, Turner, The Council of Science Editors and the Wiley Publication Ethics Team all failed to show integrity, not only regarding the obvious falsifications, but also towards my person. They all seem to consider falsifications and fake information acceptable. Well, I do not!

However, to be honest, what bothers me most is that – by the end of March 2022 – “distinguished” Professor Trudy Turner promised me that an Erratum would be published by the end of May 2022. This did not happen. No Erratum has been published. She is either not a “man” of her word or does not have the decency to correctly inform me about whatever reason for a (possible) delay. Keeping me on a string for more than three months and ignoring me for so long is unacceptable and insulting!



The conclusions are simple. Vandalising a rock art site is (in many countries) a criminal act. Therefore, always respect every rock art site, always realising that they are Sacred Sites that are deeply cemented in ritually charged, spiritual landscapes. Therefore, never touch rock art panels in any way or damage the site in any way. Always respect the sacredness and the integrity of a rock art site and the cultural landscape it is placed in. Moreover, never publish intentionally falsified illustrations of rock art images and/or incorrect textual information based on whatever graphical falsification. Acting responsibly in the field and being trustworthy in the office or at home is simply a matter of integrity. If damaging a rock art panel or a rock art site is a criminal act (it should be in every case), then also wilful publishing false information should also be regarded as immoral and unlawful (and in many countries it indeed is unlawful, however, also in the USA?).

It now proves that two academic scientists – Prof. Beth Koontz Scaffidi and Prof. Tifiny Tung – do not show any responsibility or integrity, as they are not willing to admit that they falsified “photos” that have been published in a respected (?) scientific journal. Why the (?)? People must realise that only people can be respected, not the journals or publications. Therefore, I was flabbergasted to see that ultimately the editor of the journal – Prof. Dr. Trudy Turner –  and at least two official institutions in the USA actually did not do anything to rectify this fraud in the correct way.

Finally, an – yet undiscussed – form of vandalism at rock art sites is to use the rock art images as shooting targets. Of course this is also a most disgusting way to act at a Scared Site. Therefore, do not shoot at rock art. But I also would like to add: do not shoot the messenger, as yet this happens too often as well, mainly by ignoring and boycotting the messenger (or even worse!). Publicly acknowledging that somebody is right, is also a form of integrity! Knowing that “some” people do not like my actions in this respect (and some criticise me, while others disagree with me [only?] because of the tone [?] that I use), I still hope that my paper is appreciated and accepted as an SOS, also as a caveat for anybody who intends manipulating (graphical) material to be published and/or for anyone who chooses to publish misleading information.


I do not rest my case. Further action may be expected.



¿ Quiere usted fortalecer su caracter ?…

¡ No abandone la lucha simplemente porque sea dificil !…

Roy Chapman Andrews



Álvarez Zeballos, P. J. 2009. Petroglifos de Cantas, Pitis, La Mezana y La Laja; Valle de Majes. Once accessible in: Arqueología de Perú:

Bednarik, R. G. 1987. The chalking of petroglyphs: a response. La Pintura. Vol. 15 (2+3); pp. 12 – 13.

Núñez Jiménez, A. 1986. Petroglifos del Perú. Panorama mundial del arte rupestre. 2da. Ed. PNUD-UNESCO – Proyecto Regional de Patrimonio Cultural y Desarrollo, La Habana.

Scaffidi, B. and T. Tung. 2020. Endemic violence in a pre-Hispanic Andean community: A bioarchaeological study of cranial trauma from the Majes Valley, Peru. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Vol. 2020; pp. 1 – 24. PDF available at Academia.

Van Hoek, M. 2007. Petroglifos Chavinoides cerca de Tomabal, Valle de Virú, Perú. BOLETÍN DE SIARB. Vol. 21; pp. 76 – 88. La Paz, Bolivia. Available as PDF in ResearchGate.Van Hoek, M. 2010. ‘Trophy’ heads in the rock art of the Majes Valley, Perú: exploring their possible origin. In: Rupestreweb. Available as PDF in ResearchGate.

Van Hoek, M. 2011a. Cerro Pano: A violated and endangered rock art site in Southern Perú. In: Rupestreweb. Available as PDF in ResearchGate.

Van Hoek, M. 2011b. The Chavín Controversy – Rock Art from the Andean Formative Period. Oisterwijk, The Netherlands. Book only available as PDF in ResearchGate.

Van Hoek, M. 2017. El Arte Rupestre en el Valle de Yarabamba. Linked with my paper in TRACCE: Petroglifos en Yarabamba, Arequipa, Perú: ¿Aplacandos los Apus? In: TRACCE – Online Rock Art Bulletin, Italy. Available as PDF in ResearchGate. Video available at YouTube.

Van Hoek, M. 2020. False Information Concerning Majes Rock Art, Peru. In: TRACCE – Online Rock Art Bulletin, Italy. Available as PDF in ResearchGate.

Van Hoek, M. 2021a. Updating the Rock Art near Huaca Blanca. Lambayeque, Peru. In: TRACCE – Online Rock Art Bulletin, Italy. Available as PDF in ResearchGate.

Van Hoek, M. 2021b. Accessing the Inaccessible. Rock Art of Quilcapampa, southern Peru. Oisterwijk, the Netherlands. Book only available as PDF at ResearchGate.

Van Hoek, M. 2022. The Road to Apu Misti. The Rock Art of La Caldera, Southern Peru. In: TRACCE – Online Rock Art Bulletin, Italy. Available as PDF in ResearchGate.

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