Aboriginal ochre stencils, believed to be up to 8,000 years old, were recently scratched out in Tasmania, in what the country’s Aboriginal Affairs Minister is calling a “shameful act,” according to the Guardian.
Aboriginal peoples created the stencils by grinding up ochre, mixing it with kangaroo blood, and blowing it on to their hands, making an outline of their hand on the rock. It was a sacred process, Clyde Mansell, an aboriginal leader told the Guardian.
“It’s not just a hand stencil, it’s the story that goes with the hand stencils that turns it into a sacred site,” Mansell said. “If we can’t protect that hand stencil, then we can’t keep it in our interpretation for generations to come.”
The destroyed stencil was one of 10 known stencils still left, though several are almost too faded to locate. The destroyed one, seen above, was one of the clearest.
Authorities have no suspects, though the destroyed stencil was found on May 25, or the day before National Sorry Day, a yearly Australian memorial for the Stolen Generations.
“It’s difficult to imagine what could motivate someone to undertake such a senseless act,” Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman said, “but that will hopefully come to light following a police investigation.”