Sunday 29 May 2016

Looting of antiquities is as much a problem in US as it is overseas

Looting of antiquities is as much a problem in some areas of the US as it is overseas (Jim Mimiaga, 'Artifact looting, vandalism surge in southeastern Utah:Public, private partnership aims to foil thieves' The Journal Wednesday, May 18, 2016).
The Bureau of Land Management and Friends of Cedar Mesa, a nonprofit, formed an unusual public-private partnership this month to prosecute looters and vandals of southeastern Utah’s Native American treasures. Under the agreement, Friends of Cedar Mesa will offer a standing reward of up to $2,500 for information that leads to convictions in cases in San Juan County, Utah.  “Most people are unaware of the alarming and ongoing problem of looting and vandalism, including disturbing human remains, in the greater Cedar Mesa area,” said Josh Ewing, executive director of the conservation-minded Friends of Cedar Mesa. “Violators are hard to catch, so we partnered with the BLM to create a fund that hopefully encourages the public to report illegal activity.” '...] “The American public is betrayed by these crimes,” Eaton said. “When visiting our public lands, report suspicious activity. Protecting our archaeological resources is so important because it’s the heritage of all Americans.” 
In Utah, violations of the laws include theft or intentional damage of cliff dwellings, shrines, pottery, stone tools, rock-art panels, burials and historic structures. In the past five years, it is reported that the BLM has reported a surge of disturbing archaeological crimes in this region.
Between October 2011 and April 2016, the BLM’s field office in Monticello said it investigated 25 cases of looting, vandalism and disturbance of human remains in San Juan County. In 2012, a historic Navajo hogan was torn down by campers.In 2013, a burial site in Butler Wash was desecrated by looters.In 2014, a 2,000-year-old pictograph site in Grand Gulch was vandalized.In 2015, three remote sites on Cedar Mesa were dug up by pot hunters, and a burial alcove was dug up in Beef Basin. A prehistoric wall was pulled down at Monarch Cave on Comb Ridge and, in the same area, a wall at Double Stack ruin was knocked down.Vandalism has continued in the past four months, the BLM said. In January, a petroglyph was partially removed from a wall with a rock saw and chisel near Bluff, badly marring the ancient rock art. In March, campers on Muley Point built a fire ring out of building blocks from a 2,000- to 3,000-year-old site, and vandals scratched their names in a rock-art cave. In April, ATV riders drove through archaeological sites in the Lower Fish Creek Wilderness Study Area. Looting and vandalism is also a concern on Canyons of the Ancient National Monument in Southwest Colorado, says monument manager Marietta Eaton. A recent incident is under investigation.
I am sure the coin dealers will say it is the "fault" or archaeologists who are failing to pay potential looters a living wage to keep them on the straight and narrow.

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