There are several protocols that provide for the protection and safeguarding of cultural heritage worldwide, referred to in a series of letters issued by UNESCO. In the specific case of sites with rock art, the IFRAO (International Federation of Rock Art Organizations) is one of the global institutions that has put forward specific proposals for the protection and handling of such sites.
In Peru, the sites with rock art are registered as archaeological sites with the Ministry of Culture of Peru which is responsible for formulating, establishing and pursuing strategies of cultural promotion in an inclusive and accessible manner, protecting the cultural heritage of the nation, as well as granting relevant permissions (to professionals) to carry out scientific, artistic and/or cultural studies or activities. Finally, it supervises all types of activities that are carried out within the Cultural Heritage of the Nation.
The Ministry of Culture also imposes sanctions if the performance of prohibited activities is identified. If such activities result in gross violation of the law, the case is handed over to the Public Prosecutor’s Office which claims compensation for damage to the National Cultural Heritage.
As part of this legal introduction, it should be clarified that all interventions in archaeological sites (including rock art sites) require permission – in the form of Directorial Resolutions – issued exclusively by the Ministry of Culture of Peru.
Looted cemetery - Toro Muerto
Stages of the Toro Muerto infrastructure improvement project
The archaeological site of Toro Muerto was declared a National Cultural Heritage Site by Directorial Resolution No. 037/INC on January 29, 2002. However, it is only in 2018 that this complex had a Tourism Value Enhancement carried out by the local office of the Peruvian Ministry of Culture in Arequipa and financed by the Zafranal Mining Company, since there are proposals to make the site part of a tourist trail called ‘Entre el Mar y el Fuego’ promoted by the Chamber of Commerce and the Regional Government of Arequipa.
For approximately 70 years Toro Muerto has been visited not only by national and foreign rock art researchers but also by numerous tourists who wanted to explore this extraordinary place. Unfortunately, for decades there has been an insufficient social involvement of scientists and local authorities, as well as no forward-looking cultural policy – which could help to promote the site and popularize it.
Uncontrolled tourist traffic, the development of urban infrastructure, occupation of lands for agricultural crops, illegal settlements and poor protection of the site still result in littering it, destruction of some of the petroglyphs, illegal looting in local cemeteries, and even in modifications of the landscape.
For the last 15 years, the site has had only one security guard (a position established by the Ministry of Culture) who is in charge of patrolling the area, working at the ticket office, guiding visitors and collecting garbage from the site. Robert Sulla (the guardian and watchman of Toro Muerto) makes this valuable effort.
In addition to all the problems mentioned above, caused by human activity and threatening the preservation of Toro Muerto in its present state, there is a constant process of destruction caused by natural conditions. Strong insolation and frequent sandstorms cause the erosion of soft rocks and the slow disappearance of petroglyphs (the sand carried by the wind acts as sandpaper). This process is difficult to prevent, but it should at least be monitored by specialists.
Natural factors of deterioration
Human factors of deterioration
For more than two centuries...
... Toro Muerto was used to obtain cheap building material...
'Young archaeologists, students, should come here and thus save all the petroglyphs from possible future destruction' - DO NOT DO IT, PLEASE...
For more than two centuries...