Dr. Jannie Loubser, Archaeologist and Rock Art Specialist with Stratum Unlimited LLC
Pictographs and petroglyphs are produced in such a fashion that they become an integral part of the rock surface. This is advantageous when viewed from a longevity point of view but also becomes a factor in making their detection more difficult, rendering their association with natural features less evident, and allowing for their landscape setting to be overlooked while focusing on close-up details. Baseline recording and condition assessment should accordingly aim to include information on various scales of inclusion, ranging from the microcosm of the rock surface to the macrocosm of site placement. Assessing the range of significance values in consultation with all stakeholders is also important, including Native American, historic, tourist, and research. Knowing the management history of a site and its surroundings are important to deiced on ways to manage sites in sustainable ways and also to help prevent vandalism. Appropriate preventative and hands-on management measures on the ground are more sustainable and affordable over the long term than repeated graffiti removal and/or camouflage. Graffiti mitigation should aim at minimal and repeatable techniques. Due to differing natural, cultural, and socio-economic contexts, site management strategies are not uniform and can range from a costly focal point approach, a low-level visitation approach, shut the site down approach, or even burying a site or remove it for safe-keeping to a building (the latter two alternatives should be avoided at all costs). Follow-up actions and monitoring are critical components in rock art conservation, allowing for the “tweaking” of infrastructural and damage remediation changes.