- Associated Press - Friday, February 12, 2016

PROVO, Utah (AP) - The small lichen-riddled boulders dot a Cedar Valley site, crumbling and splitting from age. Depending on the light, you can see the faded drawings on some of the rocks made by the natives so many millennia ago.

“We have the vice president of the Utah Rock Art Research Association saying the petroglyphs in Eagle Mountain are older than Fremont art and could be up to 10,000 years old,” Eagle Mountain Planning Director Steve Mumford said.

Eagle Mountain, R.K. Builders and the URARA have collaborated to protect the ancient petroglyphs.

“It’s been a long process. It took some residents who were passionate about the rock art and then work with several people with the city, mostly me and the assistant city admin Paul Jerome, and then also involved the URARA,” Mumford said.

The petroglyphs don’t shout out to the typical bystander. The collection blends in with the other lichen-covered rocks.

“Because it’s so historical and so ancient, we have to be careful,” Mumford said.

Each petroglyph has been identified, photographed and cataloged by the municipality.

“They couldn’t identify the date, but they said it was not the Fremont Indians but way before the Fremont period,” he said.

The earliest known inhabitants of the valley were members of the Desert Archaic Culture, who were nomadic hunter-gatherers moving in extended family units between 10,000 B.C. to 400 A.D.

They developed basketry, flaked-stem stone tools and implements of wood and bone, and hunted small game. During that period, Utah’s Great Basin environment was cooler and more moist than it is now. Family members could gather seeds and roots to supplement their diet.

The vice president of the URARA, Steven Acerson, and his wife, Diana, said there are several boulders they are hoping to protect.

“Some of that rock art is being damaged, being vandalized by shooters,” Diana Acerson said. “Some of this goes back 10,000 years.”

There are geometric designs, squiggly lines, and symbols of communication that date back thousands of years ago.

“You’ve got 12 random boulders and boulders that are fractured and cracked without any way to move them without falling apart,” Steven Acerson said.

Ryan Kent, of J.K. Builders, is excited about the discovered site. It’s the first time he has worked on an archaeological preservation project.

They are protecting the boulders during the construction process and the art will eventually be a part of a park with interpretive signage explaining the petroglyph history and its people.

“It hasn’t held up development at all,” Kent said. “This is the first project we’ve had that has had something this significant on it.”

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Information from: The Daily Herald, http://www.heraldextra.com

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