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Youth Tries to Improve 5,000-Year-Old Skier Carving, Causes ‘National Tragedy’

The Norwegian etching is some of the earliest evidence of human skiing.

On Tro, an island in northern Norway, there’s a carving that is among the country’s most famous: a skier, etched into the rock some 5,000 years ago. The ancient scene provides some of the earliest evidence of humans skiing. Twenty-two years ago, the skier also provided inspiration for a symbol at the Lillehammer Winter Olympics.

But, as the Local reports, recently a youth visited the carving and thought he or she would try to improve it, mostly by trying to etch even deeper into the rock. What happened is captured in the photo you see above: a mess of new etchings, forever erasing the carving that came before it. (You can see a photo of the carving before the youth’s help here.)

The botched attempt at improvement has become a “national tragedy,” as one official put it. 

Now, some officials say, the youth (or youths—outlets differ on whether there was more than one person involved) might be facing prosecution, even if, as some officials have said, the vandalism was only done with the best of intentions. 

“They were trying to make it more visible actually, and I don’t think they understood how serious it was,” Bård Anders Langø, a nearby mayor, told the Local. “I think now they understand.”