Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Treasure Hunter Barry Clifford Denied further Access to supposed 'Santa Maria' wreck

The Antiquities Coalition has an interesting followup article to a recent news story ( Justine Benanty, 'Treasure Hunter Barry Clifford: 'Santa Maria' Access Denied' The Antiquities Coalition, July 14, 2014):
On July 7, the Haitian Minister of Culture, Monique Rocourt, publicly stated that the Haitian Government has revoked the permit of famed treasure hunter Barry Clifford's on the alleged Santa Maria site. When the discovery news first went public back in May 2014, UNESCO was asked for their technical assistance to determine the validity of Clifford's claims and assess his permit and archaeological methods. UNESCO has since determined that the methodology and diver team employed by Clifford does not comply with the standards set by the Scientific Council of the UNESCO Convention [...]
It also turns out that although Clifford had announced to the public that it was he who had discovered this site, it had actually previously been studied by the University of Florida back in the 1970s-80s, who had found no evidence whatsoever suggesting that this was thewreck of teh 'Santa Maria' of Columbus. The Coalition points out that maritime archaeology is beset with problems caused by amateur treasure hunters against whose sensationalist claims they often have to struggle.
A simple news search shows that media coverage of this decision has only been covered by Haitian or foreign language media outlets. Once the initial announcement via the mass media was released in May to the American press, there has been little to no coverage of these developments since May in English-language outlets. This illustrates a trend in American sensationalist media where only the exciting or provoking news is made public, while the follow-up stories that are grounded in reality, are forgotten or dismissed. If the American public were able to know about why Clifford's permit was revoked or why treasure hunters and archaeologists are ethically at odds, it would foster a new thoughtful perspective on cultural resources management and site preservation. The media is an integral part in spreading awareness of issues surrounding our cultural resources.
But do the media accept that role for themselves, or are they more interested in dumb-down sensation?

UPDATE 6th October 2014
BBC: 'Haiti wreck not Columbus flagship - UNESCO' 6th October 2014

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