So I've seen two articles in the past week that deal with the private ownership of artifacts. One is from West Virginia and the other from Texas.
-From the Fredericksburg Standard, Fredericksburg, Texas October 12, 2011
The story starts out:
"Collectors of rare and ancient arrowheads along with other objects relating to Native Americans will be in town Saturday when the annual Fredericksburg Indian Artifact Show returns"
When the show returns? How often has this show been coming back? Where do these people get "fresh" artifacts for the annual event? The article continues:
"As many as 70 tables will be set up by collectors from all over Texas to display historic artifacts for the benefit of buyers, sellers, traders or lookers interested in stopping by the pavilion that day."
Wow. Seventy tables of artifacts. That is disturbing. I understand that it is not illegal to possess artifacts that you found on your own land but is it legal to sell those artifacts? Also, are vendors required to show a pedigree for the artifacts? Where did they get them? Sounds shady.
"Free admission will also be provided for Gillespie County law enforcement officers..."
I guess if you grease the wheels you can slip under the law in Texas.
The second article is from Putnam County, West Virginia.
This event is less disturbing than the last one but has similar problems.
"The public is invited to bring artifacts for professional archeologists to view and identify..."
Now, I wholeheartedly endorse the identification of artifacts by professional archaeologists. It might give the archaeologists a chance to let people know that removing artifacts from public land is illegal. Hopefully the people coming to the Market found their artifacts on their own property. There is certainly less public land in West Virginia than in Texas. However, I just hope that this doesn't encourage people to go out and "find" more artifacts for identification. As long as the archaeologists refrain from appraising the artifacts then everyone should have a good time.
It seems like the main problem is that many people don't know that collecting artifacts from some place other than your own land is illegal. Not only is it illegal but it robs the rest of us from enjoying them. Those artifacts do not belong to any one person. They belong to everyone and no one. We should all have the pleasure of seeing a piece of history while we are out on a hike or are just enjoying nature.
Am I way off base here? Let me know. I don't have a problem with the West Virginia archaeologists identifying artifacts but I feel that the Texas show is not only immoral but is likely illegal.
Written in Ely, Nevada
2008 The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology (iPad App), Oxford University Press, 2nd ed. Developed by Handmark, Inc.
LOOT Acronym for the 'Listing of Outlaw Treachery'.
LOOT Clearinghouse An archival database of information on past archaeological incidents and cases which is maintained by the Archaeological Assistance Division of the American National Park Service in Washington, DC.