We are witnessing a tremendous increase in the commercialization of the human prehistoric and historic record.
Archaeological sites are being looted to the extent that if something is not done soon to curb this destruction, there will be little of our collective past left for future Americans.
Artifacts are the tangible evidence of our past: of who was here, how they lived, what happened. In the right hands, they provide a window into history. But understanding the past requires more than the artifact itself. It requires its surroundings and its relationship to other artifacts and to the landscape.
Removing artifacts removes them from the rest of the story. It often destroys the historic landscape, which has its own intrinsic value. It often destroys other artifacts and clues which are regarded by the untrained as worthless.
Artifacts belong in their historic setting. They belong to all of us. No one person has the moral right to take them.
Enjoy but do not destroy our American heritage!
Time Crime: Protecting the past in the United States, Robert Hicks, Culture without Context, the newsletter of the Illicit Antiquities Research Centre
America’s Hidden Battlefields: Protecting the Archaeological Story, American Battlefield Protection Program, National Park Service
Because the Past is our Common Destiny . . ., Southeast Archaeological Center, National Park Service
Strategies for Protecting Archaeological Sites on Private Lands, Historic Preservation Planning Programming, National Park Service
The “Looting Question” Bibliography, Hugh Jarvis, University at Buffalo
Historic Relic Hunters could dig themselves into big trouble, Daily Press, Newport News, Va.
Ancient Site in Indiana Plundered, Metareligion.com
The Tragedy of Slack Farm, Brian Fagan
Relic Hunting, Archaeology, and Loss of Native American Heritage at The Dalles, Virginia L. Butler
Archaeological collection discovered after relic hunter's death, by Jan Richter, Cesky rozhlas, January 1, 2008
Archeologists, relic hunters don't see eye to eye, by Kevin Walters, The Tennessean, November 29, 2009
Ask Dr. Dirt - Protecting the Past: Give a Hoot, Don’t Loot! University of Texas at Austin
The Archaeology Puzzle Parkwise, Alaska National Parks eclassroom
Artifact Ethics N.C. Curriculum
Protecting the Past: Give a Hoot—Don’t Loot! University of Texas at Austin
|From 450-year-old wood, archaeologists can determine the kind of |
tree used, time of year the structure was built, tools used, and
Relic hunting is illegal:
- On federal land
- On state owned land, in many states (including North Carolina)
- On private property, without the landowner's permission
Most relic hunting is done illegally.
Even relic hunting which is legal is destructive!
What to do
If you find artifacts, leave them undisturbed and report them. In North Carolina, notify the State Archaeology Office or staff of the state or national park
If you see illegal relic-hunting, notify your local Sheriff's office:
Rowan County NC 704-636-1011
Davidson County NC 336-242-2100
What you can do American Battlefield Protection Program, National Park Service
How can you help? Southeast Archaeological Center, National Park Service
Click here for
Elements of this web page provided courtesy of the Southeast Archeological Center, National Park Service. Poster image derived from 'Because the Past is our Common Destiny' - http://www.cr.nps.gov/seac/destiny.htm, oil painting by Martin Pate, courtesy of and produced by the Southeast Archeological Center, National Park Service.