The National Park Service is seeking information that will lead to recovery of Anasazi Indian pottery recently stolen from a remote area in the Needles District.
Larry Frederick, park spokesman in Moab, said no reward has been established as yet for information leading to return of three broken ceramic bowls estimated to be about 800 years old.Superintendent Harvey Wickware reported the theft this week in a news release, urging anyone with knowledge of who has the pottery to contact the park's chief ranger.
"The theft of these bowls is a real loss for everybody. A significant part of the park experience is finding cultural materials in place," Wickware said. "We cannot continue to offer this kind of opportunity without the full cooperation of our visitors. We simply cannot allow the public's treasures to be carried off."
Frederick said the bowls likely were stolen several weeks ago.
"We'd had an anonymous tip they'd been removed. We investigated and found they were. So, somebody knows that somebody has them," he said.
The pottery was discovered in 1985 during an archaeological survey in an isolated area that receives little visitation, Frederick said.
He said a technical report referring to the cultural site may have provided clues for locating the bowls, which park officials decided to leave untouched in their natural setting.
"It's because of the technical report, dated 1989 . . . somebody dug into that, saw the photographs and a general map that gives an idea of the finds," he said. "Somebody went to that part of the park deliberately looking for them, found them and removed them."
Frederick said a report on the cultural survey had been distributed to educational institutions, museums, archaeologists and other interested individuals and organizations throughout the region.
The park decides case by case whether to collect newly discovered artifacts to preserve and protect them, Wickware said. In this case, park officials presumed the bowls were safe from theft, damage or destruction because they were in a low-visitation area "in the middle of nowhere" and away from any trails or jeep roads, Frederick said.