Thursday, 12 March 2009

How It Happens: State Archaeologist

How It Happens: State Archaeologist. The author of this brief video suggests that Minnesota's state archaeologists (one guy and an assistant) are so overworked and under-resourced that they might need to adopt an "Indiana Jones approach" (whatever the author of the video understands that to be). I personally think that US collectors who spend time lobbying for no-questions-asked collecting of portable antiquities taken from other countries because they are "so passionate about the past" might do more good by first campaigning to make sure the US can look after its own historical record to the degree that local law requires before they insist on telling other countries what they should and should not do. We find lobbying groups like the ACCG criticising "foreign governments" for their policies over heritage, without recognising that there are also serious problems in their own heritage backyard. Of course if they do not collect arrowheads and potsherds, but shinier geegaws like coins from hoards, then they may not care. Let them at least then be honest with the rest of us, that their concern is not for the "heritage" of the foreign lands they have never set foot in, but their ability to get their hands back in the USA on the stuff they want.

Perhaps US portable antiquity collectors should all be campaigning to BE the Indiana Jones which the video suggests would save America's archaeological heritage, out there with their metal detectors and shovels, saving theheritage of their homeland before somebody else builds something on it.

We see the ACCG calling for all nations under the sun except the UK to repeal their antiquity preservation laws and empty their museums to allow its members to buy shiny geegaws for their collection - well, let us see them FIRST campaign for the US to repeal its laws in the same way. Let us see them urge that the USA sets the example. Let them apply exactly the same arguments they apply to foreign countries first to their own - using the same justifications. What would US public opinion make of that?

And then let them ask themselves whether public opinion in the "source countries" would not react in the same way to their propositions.

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