Petroglyph stolen from Line Creek Nature Area

by Sarah Fay Campbell

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Photo submitted by Southern Conservation Trust


The Line Creek Nature Area, just over the Coweta-Fayette County line in Peachtree City, is open for all to enjoy. But recently, a thief or thieves decided to take a precious artifact.

The rock, believed to be a petroglyph carved hundreds of years ago by Native Americans, sat just a few feet off a trail at the nature center, located along Line Creek on the south side of Highway 54 in Peachtree City.

The rock was roughly 20 inches by 12 inches by 12 inches, according to the Southern Conservation Trust, which manages the nature area.

'Perhaps you have seen this boulder during a hike in the park, or heard about it from others and looked forward to seeing it for yourself someday,' said Pam Young, executive director of Southern Conservation Trust. 'The personal experience of visiting the ancient expression is now lost to all in our community,' Young said, unless they can convince the person who took it to return it.

'Someone likely thought the petroglyph would be a great addition to their personal garden or yard,' Young said. 'We just hope somebody wasn't thinking' and realizes they want to return it.

'It is a part of our community … our hope is that we will get it returned,' Young said.

If the rock is returned, 'there will be no further questions or actions taken by Southern Conservation Trust,' she said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Peachtree City Police Department at 770-487-8866, or Young at 770-846-4730.

There is very little information about the petroglyph, or when it might have been carved. Young said they never contacted an archeologist about it because of fears it might draw too much attention to petroglyph.

'We wanted to conserve it so that everybody could see it,' Young said. 'We didn't want to have to put up a fence around it. We wanted people to be able to enjoy it.'

Volunteers do regular checks of all the trust's properties, and someone noticed the stone was missing last week. A trust volunteer was actually taking someone to see the petroglyph when the theft was discovered.

Theft of artifacts is a big problem, said Sarah Love, a master's student in archeology who lives in Chattahoochee Hills.

'Looting is a huge issue,' Love said. 'There is a large black market for these types of things. There is a lot of illegal selling going on with artifacts. It really just messes everything up,' she said. Thieves often get caught, and are charged with federal crimes.

But even when items are recovered, you can never get back what you've lost.

'Even if you put it back in that exact same place, it is disturbed,' Love said. 'Whoever took it has really messed up any chance' of archeologists really figuring out the story behind the carving.

Archeologists use the archeological context of the surrounding area, the soils, and surrounding artifacts and items to find out information, Love said. 'You have really sensitive soil sediments that give you what year something happened.' Once that context is disturbed, 'there is no way of telling,' she said.

Thieves are 'messing up what we could know and what the public could know,' Love said.

'Archeology isn't just for the archeologists. It's for the public.'



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