Of course, having a camera doesn't guarantee you won't cause destruction ...
When future archaeologists look back at our era thousands of years from now, they'll reach two major conclusions: 1) our subway system was very inefficient and bizarrely sandwich-centric, and 2) we were morons. Why? Because if it wasn't for some of our contemporaries (mostly tourists, to no one's surprise), those future people could have enjoyed recently ruined historical locales like ...
If Indiana Jones has taught us anything, it's that it's easy to steal a historic artifact as long as you don't do anything stupid, like drink from it, look at it, or deliberately shatter it into a million pieces with a chisel. Oh, right: That last one wasn't fictional. Last year, visitors at Los Escolares Cave in Santa Elena, Spain, noticed some slight changes in a rock painting of a man-sparrow hybrid (our ancestors were freaks) that had remained undisturbed for five millennia:
Cave paintings such as this are not usually regarded as the easiest targets for thievery, what with the whole "being attached to several million tons of rock" thing. You can't just slip the whole mountain into a bag and quietly walk away. However, the perpetrators had a plan with equals parts finesse and cunning: chiseling it off the wall. In a turn of events that anyone without forethought would call "surprising," this didn't work out, and the lower part of the painting self-destructed into dust, taking with it several millennia's worth of historic significance, the thieves' ability to deny being literally rock-fuck stupid, and civilization's earliest known furry art.
Let's be fair to the numbnuts who did this: Everyone's sort of assuming they planned to sell the painting somewhere, but maybe they didn't. Maybe they were just enraptured by its beauty and didn't have a camera.
"Honey, clear some space on the mantelpiece."
Of course, having a camera doesn't guarantee you won't cause destruction ...
The Colosseum might be one of the world's most iconic buildings, but do you know what it's missing? If you said "the initials of random attention-starved Instagrammers etched into its walls," then congratulations! You're either terrible and/or one of the people who actually did this. Like the Russian guy (see, not all dumb tourists are Americans) who was recently fined $25,000 for carving a 10-inch initial on a wall:
Evidently, no, he wasn't entertained.
In yet another example of classic Russian not-give-a-fuckery, the 42-year-old man did this while being watched by a security guard, an act which elevates this from mere "light vandalism" to "balls-out lunacy." That was in 2014, so hopefully the hefty fine will dissuade any more tourists from doing the same thing this ye- wait, no, it already happened again. In March, two masterminds from California (dammit) left their tour group to carve a "J" and an "N" on a wall and then took a selfie with their act of cultural destruction. Hopefully they got enough "likes" to offset the unspecified but probably large fine.
We were charged $500 just for adding that circle on MS Paint.
We think it's pretty clear by now that the fines simply aren't enough. Considering how pissed officials are getting about tourists doing this, we wouldn't be surprised to hear if the next case ends up with the Colosseum being used as it was in old-timey days, lions and all.
There are still places in Europe where you can leave your house and literally trip over a piece of history older than America. Such was the case in the picturesque British village of Dunster, which was one of the best-preserved settlements dating back to the Iron Age. And we say "was," because as of this January, it looks like this:
"Come on, get with the times! You're acting like we still have a queen!"
When the Somerset County Council started to receive reports about people tripping over an ancient cobblestone path, they took swift and decisive action, telling pedestrians to watch where they were walking. Or they would have if they had any common sense -- instead, they tore that shit up, replacing it with the sort of paving that wouldn't look out of place in a village that nobody wanted tourists to visit anymore. In the process, they also pissed off the same locals they're supposed to be protecting (from the hassle of potentially filing lawsuits against them, that is).
"We'd fetch the pitchforks, but it just isn't the same anymore ..."
Despite the cobbles having existed for nearly a millennium longer than smartphones, crumpets, or whatever else the British look at when they're walking, the council defended their decision by pointing out the new pavement was made from "locally sourced" materials, which makes it all totally fucking OK. If Hot Fuzz is any indication of how protective villagers are, however, we expect the gun battles and assassinations to start within weeks.
When you're in an archaeological site (especially one you're not supposed to be in), you're like Homer in that episode of The Simpsons where he goes back in time -- just stepping on the wrong thing can change the way we see history. The following photo, then, is like Homer just saying, "Fuck it," and taking giant shits all over the place.
U.S. Forest Department
Creating a future where people do things like ... dear God.
Yes, we're dealing with people dumber than the dumbest fictional character. Arizona authorities have asked for help locating the gentlemen in that picture after someone vandalized an 800-year-old Native American ritual site in Sedona, Arizona, by throwing its contents over a nearby embankment. Why? We can only speculate that it was part of some experiment to find a material in the universe denser than their skulls. Not only was the place closed to the public and still in the process of being studied, but Native Americans still consider it sacred. But hey, at least those particular vandals didn't have spray paint with them, like the ones who visited this place did:
Roberto E. Rosales/The Albuquerque Journal/AP Photo
Have to hand it to them, though, that's an impressively realistic graffiti of an old dude.
In this instance, campers in Albuquerque have been ignoring "Hey, you, stay out" signs and desecrating a rock-carving-decorated canyon by setting campfires, firing shotguns, tearing down fences, and covering the canyon walls in gold spray paint. As of this writing, the groups responsible haven't been apprehended, although -- judging by the amount of stuff they've been leaving behind -- it's possible that the site's original occupants came back for a spot of ghostly terrorevenge. We can hope that's the case, anyway.
This probably doesn't need stating, but there's a good reason why museums put their oldest and most valuable objects behind glass cases -- take old King Tut here:
"Old" in the historical sense, since he died before he would have
been able to legally buy beer in the U.S.
Do you think Tutankhamun's mask would still be in such a pristine state if it wasn't for the protection of devoted museum workers who- wait, uh, what's this?
And why is there a Cornetto wrapper on the floor?
After visitors pointed out that King Tut's beard looked like it'd been hastily glued with epoxy, the museum was forced to admit that this is exactly what happened. Apparently, some clumsy museum worker accidentally broke it off while changing the lights in its display case. The task of gluing the beard back together was performed with such delicacy and finesse that the Internet soon exploded with speculation that the Egyptian Museum wasn't able to care for its monuments, a suggestion that the museum would have found libelous if it wasn't demonstrably true (at least in this case). The fact that they acted like a little kid hoping mom doesn't notice didn't help, either.
To be entirely fair, the beard had already been glued onto the mask: However, that was due to being buried in a desert tomb for thousands of years, not something that wouldn't look out of place in an unused Mr. Bean sketch.
If anyone should be expected to know how to preserve things, it's Greenpeace. Sure, their shtick is the environment, but the overall message applies to historical sites, too: Do no harm, the future is for everyone, etc. As such, we're interested in hearing why they thought trampling over the Nazca Lines in order to carry out a pretty pointless publicity stunt was a good idea.
"These lines are not."
The group broke into the restricted area surrounding the world-famous hummingbird line and unfurled giant yellow letters urging world leaders to discuss climate change at a climate change talk in Peru -- you know, in case the leaders got confused and thought they were there to share Mad Men finale theories or something (Don totally jumps in the last episode). However, what the group failed to take into account was that the only reason those lines have survived for so long is because the soil they're etched into is extremely easy to mark -- something that they demonstrated beautifully by leaving footprints that, at best, will be visible for the next hundred years.
Our children deserve to know what shoes this lady was wearing, dammit.
Not only that, but drone footage shows that even after they removed the letters, the mark of the giant "G" can still be seen. Still, it's a good thing that they solved climate change or all of this would have seemed pretty dumb, right?
Adam once visited those cobbles and thought that they were pretty great (you know, as cobbles go). You can help with his sense of loss by contacting him with comments/jokes/jobs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also be sure to check out 6 Priceless Ancient Artifacts (Destroyed by Idiots) and 7 Priceless Works of Art Ruined by Staggering Acts of Idiocy.
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