Sunday, 21 December 2014

Artefact Collector Nabbed in California

In California the water levels of a number of lakes and reservoirs has been steadily dropping over the past five years and this is leaving many normally flooded archaeological sites unprotected and artefact hunters are able to get at them. And they do. California State Park Rangers have recovered thousands of stolen archaeological artifacts reportedly taken from sites around Lake Oroville over the last 20 years. A man  was allegedly seen taking the items from areas at the Lake Oroville Recreation Area last month as a result, a looting case was started.
On Monday, rangers served a search warrant at the man’s Feather Falls residence and reportedly seized more than 2,000 items, Wright said. This is the most extensive case of disturbance and theft of artifacts from Lake Oroville that District Attorney Mike Ramsey has ever seen, he said. The case is being taken “extremely seriously.” The man, who is not being identified by authorities, was issued a citation and the District Attorney’s Office will determine if charges will be filed, he said. This person has been collecting items for about 20 years, said Leslie Steidl, State Parks archeologist. The items represent a small amount of the Maidu material culture in the area. The majority of the artifacts recovered are known as stone flakes or chips. Many are “projectile points,” arrowheads or dart points. A variety of other items from various materials and time periods were also found, according to State Parks. State regulations, as well as other federal laws, protect items of cultural significance from being removed from public land. “Cultural resources are protected on all public lands,” Steidl said. “And this collection was taken by an individual and kept in his home, but it existed in State Park land, so it belongs to the citizens of the state of California.” 
I expect US collectors rights activists will now be writing to Californian authorities pointing out that the preservation of the sites is totally unimportant, "if the looters did not dig them up these sites and artefacts would not have been found'' and would have lain in the ground  unseen, and also digging them up "allows their recording" which is what these collectors rights activists say (on anlogy with the PAS in England and, for the moment, Wales) is what is more important than conservation. I expect we will see the ACCG activists and the Stout-Howland-Tompa partnership and the rest announcing on their blogs that this is what they have done. Go on then, let's see you, let us see you making the same arguments about the archaeological heritage in the US which you make about other people's. If you dare.

 Video here

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