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The picture says it all. The engraved boulders of Sapa are slowly being eroded – naturally from the environment, but at an accelerated rate from tourists clambering onto the rocks. I visited the site two years ago and many of the engravings on the larger boulders which were accessible to tourists were already faint due to smoothening of the rock surface or vandalised.

Distress cry for help from Sapa ancient rock field
Vietnam Net Bridge, 29 January 2012

The Sapa ancient rock field in Muong Hoa Valley, Sapa district in Lao Cai province is a mysterious and invaluable relic, which is proposed for UNESCO’s recognition as a world cultural heritage site. But this relic is being ruined.

This area of remains consists of large multi-grade rocks engraved with ancient images. It was discovered by a Russian French archaeologist of the French School of the Far East in 1925.

There are nearly 200 rocks of various dimensions concentrated in the area. Hon Bo, which is 15m long and 6m high, is the biggest of theses rocks. The engravings on the surfaces of the stone are either pictographic or decorative. Remarkably, among the engravings are drawings of humans, stilt-houses of the ethnic minorities and symbols believed to be a primitive form of writing. But their meaning has not yet been deciphered.

Full story here.

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