Archaeological Treasure Marred By Vandalism

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Hidden Cave has stood high on a bluff east of Fallon for millennia.

Formed by an ancient lake it remained as the climate changed and waters receded.

And thousands of years ago, ancient Americans came to the area to hunt and fish, using the cave as a secure store house for food and equipment, also for burial.

As we view it from the 21st century, it's hard to overstate its importance to understanding our prehistory.

"Iit is essentially one of the most important sites in North America," says BLM archaeologist Jason Wright. It's scientific value is extraordinary because it tells us of people's previous life ways."

In modern times it has been often visited, yet remained unharmed.

Twice excavated by archaeologists, it's been telling its story to visitors through guided tours offered by the Churchill County Museum.

Sometime in the past few weeks, another visitor with other intentions came here. Graffiti now mars this treasure of a time capsule.

A wall left by archaeologists excavations contains 21-thousand years of Nevada history from the time the cave was formed, up through the centuries to human habitation about 6 thousand years ago, somewhere in the middle of graffiti.

It reads " I love Rachael". Whoever you are Rachael, take no pride in this declaration.

The vandals left other examples, some obscene.

"It's very disrespectful to deface a sacred site, an American heritage site." says Wright.

"it's the resting place for the ancestors, the old people," says Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe Vice Chairman Herman Dixon, "and to have that disturbed and violated, it goes against the grain for everybody, not only the native people, but everyone in the county."

No artifacts were touched. There is some damage to the site. Most can be repaired.

What lingers is a sense of violation. Disrespect.

"They have no conscience,. no respect," says Dixon of the still unidentified vandals, "What can you say to people like that?"

BLM Investigators say they are working on some leads with the Churchill County Sheriff's Office.

The bureau has posted a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

Anyone with information should call the sheriff's office, Secret Witness or the BLM's Crime Hotline at 1-800-521-6501.