The Peterborough Tragedy (Canada)

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TRACCE no.3 – by Paul G. Bahn, Robert G. Bednarik, Jack Steinbring


We would like to draw the attention of Tracce readers to our recent illustrated paper in Rock Art Research in which we reveal for the first time…

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We would like to draw the attention of Tracce readers to our recent illustrated paper in Rock Art Research (May 1995, vol. 12, pp. 29-41), and summary in INORA (13,1996), in which we reveal for the first time the terrible damage caused by the building created around the Peterborough Petroglyph Site in Ontario, Canada, and its lack of maintenance.

In its “official” literature and in public presentations, the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) – which was directly responsible for this project – persists in presenting the site to the world as the epitome of rock art conservation., but has never published a word about the considerable damage it has done. The site is currently being presented on the World Wide Web by the Ontario authorities, but is noteworthy that the destructive building enclosing the petroglyphs is not even mentioned.

The damage done is bad enough, but the silence about it over the past decade is even more reprehensible; and the CCI is still strongly advocating further damage – i.e. the “cleaning” of all the glyphs, through abrasion with gas-propelled crushed glass, to make them look almost fresh and hence more visible for the public. We consider this a scandalous proposal which would clearly be deliberate professional vandalism, destroying any hope
of applying scientific analytical or dating techniques in the future for the patina on these glyphs.

We hope that all those who care about rock art and its conservation will join us in condemning this proposal, and in denouncing the CCI for its past and present treatment of this site.

Paul G. Bahn
(Vice-President of AURA), 428 Anlaby Road, Hull HU3
6QP England – Fax: +44-1482-352172
Robert G. Bednarik
(Convenor of IFRAO), PO Box 216, Caulfield South,
3162 Victoria, Australia
Jack Steinbring
c/o Dept. of Anthropology, Ripon College, 300 Seward
Street, PO Box 248, Ripon, WI 54971, USA

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