Verde Valley Archaeological Sites Threatened by Looters, Vandals

Recently, we told you about efforts to prevent thefts of century-old cactuses from Saguaro National Park near Tucson. Up in the Verde Valley, it seems thieves are after something else: archaeological artifacts.

The Verde Valley Archaeology Center said four major instances of vandalism at archaeological sites in the area have been documented since 2012. Those include the destruction of a prehistoric dwelling near uptown Sedona earlier this year, along with a prehistoric village in Cornville that was looted in 2013. There are more than 2,500 ancient sites in the Sedona and Verde Valley area.

Fortunately, the archaeology center recently received three Arizona Community Foundation grants, totaling more than $10,000, to support an existing monitoring program for sites in the area. The grants will support recruiting and training new site stewards and the development of a public-awareness campaign, along with an education initiative in schools, the center said in a news release.

Ken Zoll, the center's executive director, called the education programs "a vital addition to the cultural resource and heritage management of these ancient sites. It is our intention to provide public education programs that will promote, guide and provide the ethical foundation for responsible site stewardship by every resident of the Sedona/Verde Valley area."

For more information, visit the center's website.

Photo: Vandalism at a rock-art site in the Verde Valley. | Courtesy of Verde Valley Archaeology Center

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