Tuesday 4 June 2013

The "Carter Loophole" and Resource Protection

Doug's Archaeology has an interesting post on collecting today: " Is it Legal to Collect Arrowheads on Federal Land?", posted on June 3, 2013:
Spend some time on an arrowhead collecting forum and you will eventually be told that it is legal to hunt arrowheads on Federal land in the US (as opposed to all other forms of collecting/looting that is illegal). Supposedly this loophole is the Carter loophole, named after the former president. Apparently Carter liked to collected arrowheads so an exception was made to archaeology laws. Recently there was some discussion on the NMAC listserve about this loophole [...] It appears that many collectors are misinformed about the legality of collecting arrowheads on federal land. Yes, there is an exception to one law but there are multiple other laws that law enforcement can use to arrest would-be collectors [...] there is a real risk for any collector trying to use this loophole.
Also an archaeological artefact is an archaeological artefact carrying information which only is fully realised when the object and its context of deposition and discovery are known, including what else was at the findspot. It does not matter if it is a prehistoric arrowhead or a Roman coin in a field.  Collectors like to think that their own actions are in some way an "exception", that the removal of the objects they covet "really" has no significance, but they are always arguing from an assumption, but in fact ignorance of what the unrecorded potential information that was associated with the find in fact had been. They are cocooning their selfish actions in a web of self-deceit.

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