May 25, 2012, 09:46 PM
So true and they dont see it that way everyone thinks theres treasure and old things worth so much money in the ground...they have no idea the work it takes to find these old coins and as for the "artifacts" thats just a fancy term to enforce laws against coin shooting
Originally Posted by Charlie P. (NY)
May 25, 2012 09:46 PM
May 25, 2012, 11:30 PM
Just curious Easttrail, what exactly is the difference between my personal collection of "treasures" (mostly less than 100 year old coins and very few artifacts, all of which are clearly well defined in history)
and an archaeologists personal collection? Surely you have "heard" of possibly some of your colleagues personal collections (not that you would have anything saved per se....)
Well I can tell you, MINE according to law, is confiscatable. Why is that?
May 26, 2012, 12:03 AM
what hath god wrought
I never met an archeologist that I did not like. No, really.
Federal Bureau of Governmental Redundancy Reduction Agency
May 26, 2012, 12:20 AM
Quick reply before bed. Your collection is only able to be confiscated if it was collected from land without permission. If it was collected from your land, or from land where you had permission, it's yours free and clear! If you've collected it without permission, it's not legal. Just like if I excavated without permission.
Originally Posted by Jeffro
I can honestly say none of my colleagues have personal collections of artifacts out of the ground. Personally, I have a lot of reproductions and replicas, and some framed site plans. Some others have non-archaeological old things, either from antique stores or family heirlooms. No archaeologist should have a personal collection from a site they worked, especially from public land. That's a breach in ethics and a breach of trust. If I knew of an archaeologist who had artifacts at home that were supposed to be at a repository, I would report them. That's unacceptable.
So to make it clear, if you have permission to have stuff, that's great, have it! Display it, enjoy it! If you don't, then you shouldn't. That goes for everyone.
I'll reply to more of these posts tomorrow. Thanks for engaging!
May 26, 2012, 07:47 AM
Originally Posted by easttrail
Again, it was the federal law that became the blueprint for the state laws and has snowballed all the way down to local laws in a lot of areas. And frankly, I'd be opposed to supervised metal detecting on state lands that I pay taxes for and snowmobilers, gas companies, hikers, fishermen, campers, etc. have free reign to.
Jon said it perfectly. I was trying to say the same thing but as I typed I simply got angrier and the focus blurred. Thank you Jon for your words.
We have mountains of written history and documentation on darn near everything in the last 300 years. There is absolutely no reason that sites need to be declared historic if they fall into a general scheme of life, such as a ghost town or old logging camp in the mountains. Why would anyone need to know the historic context of an axe they used or a pocket full of change that fell from someones pocket?
Here in Pennsylvania, there were skirmishes with Indians all over. What difference does it matter how many there actually were? Written history has a good many recorded, we know they happened, we know people died and were buried or left for the animals to devour. Random arrowheads from hunting parties abounded.
A prime example of one of the points Jon was making was a place my older brother used to collect arrowheads. It was dynamited to make a highway. Obviously, no concern there for any historic significance. And recently, state archeologists did a sample dig at a site where a new bridge is to be built to confirm any traces of Indian life in the area. "All" they found were pottery schards, some tools and miscellaneous items...not enough evidence to stop the bridge building. What There is tons of written history of the area to justify the dig, but you can't stop progress I guess. But you can bet your last dollar had I been digging there, found some schards or tools, my butt would be in jail for robbing an historic site.
Can you see the hypocrisy there? This is a huge difference between amature history buffs like myself and paid state archeologists. I'd have wanted to recover the items, photo the items, display and donate the items. The state will bulldoze the items, bury the remains under thousands of tons of fill and wash their hands of any historic significance of the area.
As for the gas/oil boom here in Pennsylvania, again, no one is taking historic significance into any of the well pads they clear or the pipelines they are cutting across the mountains to lay or the miles of access roads they cut. No one is exploring ahead of them to say "Hey, wait a minute, there's evidence of some remote town here or an old miners camp". Not to mention the environmental laws they are allowed to bypass. Again, the hypocrisy just oozes from the state. So too, if I detect one of the roads they built and find some relics they crushed and some bent up impliments or even some arrowheads that were unearthed, I'm wrong and being a thief.
Archeology is important in understanding ancient civilian life, but all it does is inform us of the past. It satisfies our curiosity of life during another time. Archeologist's are paid hobbiests. While I research written history and go explore areas on foot, metal detect to confirm what is written for free, archeologists are paid to do the exact same thing. If there were no paid archeologists, there would be archeology clubs all over the world doing it for free.
Back in the 1980's I helped promote a new group called "North Pittsburgh Past Finder's". We were a metal detecting AND archeology club. We were local history buffs that also enjoyed metal detecting. Over the years local laws have become more restrictive and has created the animosity we see today.
You mention the issues of state laws and I point out the federal laws created the guidelines, just as local communities have taken their pieces of the state laws and applied the parts they feel they need. The archeology community has the money and lobbying we don't, that's how you were able to get the laws passed in the first place. So it would take some work on your part to undo it, take some of your money and change the federal law and issue a statement to the state welcoming amature detectorists into your corner as an asset to protecting historic resources that states actually don't care about. Some campaign donations to our governor insured a free pass to the gas companies to tromp where ever they please, reguardless of what's in their path. Do you think our governor cares about our history? We'd actually be a hinderance to them if we found an old settlement or something in their path. I'm sure however, we would never stop progress. But...we could possibly document a portion of it, save a few relics from destruction, add another piece of the puzzle to our states history.
I think...therefore I am.
May 26, 2012, 11:31 AM
Originally Posted by easttrail
First I want to welcome you to the forum and also commend you for reaching out to the metal detecting community. It is a refreshing and welcome change of attitude from the one we normally receive from other members of your profession.
You ask us to comment on what we as detectorists want from you and what can be done to repair the relationship between our two groups. My answer to that, in a word, is respect. Respect is part of the foundation of any relationship. We two group share a lot in that we both (or at least many of us detectorists) share a great interest in and respect for history and what it can teach us. It seems like there should be a lot of common ground between us based on that. Yet in all of my dealings with archaeologists (before this one) we as a group have been cast most commonly as "looters" and equated with criminals.
I was reminded of this recently when I attended a presentation at my local library where a staff member of my state's State Archaeologists Office held a discussion of old stone walls. The presentation was very interesting and I really enjoyed it. However at the end of the presentation the subject turned to what could audience members do as land owners to preserve this aspect of our history. I thought the presenter was going to ask people not to sell off the stones comprising the walls to developers who will pay good money for these stones to use as materials for decorative landscaping, however instead the presenter asked audience members to protect their lands from looters like metal detectorists (he obviously was unaware that I was a detectorist, though others in the audience did).
This extremely negative attitude and the energy spent by members of your profession to ban metal detecting anywhere they can seems to me to be a difficult to understand, disproportionate response to a hobby that seems to be a far smaller threat to historical preservation than real estate development for example. A real estate developer with their JCB's and D8's can cause far more damage to the artifacts and context of site in a few hours than an entire club of detectorists can do in weeks of hunting. Furthermore the best metal detectors can get around a foot a depth under normal circumstances and perhaps 14 or 16 inches under ideal conditions while the heavy equipment used in construction excavates much deeper than that and with far more widespread disturbance. Yet it seems like many in your profession spends more energy opposing detectorists than they do development in historically significant areas.
Mick Aston, the prominent British archaeologist, once said that detectorists most often find the "background noise of history" when speaking on Channel 4's Time Team program. It seems to me that what he said is true. So it has always been very difficult for me to understand why archaeologists (as a group) despise us so.
As for why there is so much ill will in the detecting community towards archaeologists, it is my belief that most of sprung up as a reaction to the treatment we received. The passage of the ARPA also was perceived as an overly broad, land grab (so to speak) lead by the archaeological community that went far beyond what was necessary to protect historically significant land from looting by those only interested in the monetary value of artifacts. While the archaeological community is not directly responsibly for cases of excessive enforcement of ARPA, there have been several cases publicized where rangers have literally made federal cases of someone innocently picking up an arrow head or detectorists being prosecuted for having an assembled metal detector in the trunk of their car while visiting a national park and then having their vehicle, detectors (even those at home), and any thing resembling a find confiscated even though they didn't even turn on their detectors. Whether these incidents are true and even though archaeologists didn't have anything to do with them, there is a general belief that they share part of the blame.
As far as what can be done to repair the relationship between our two groups - just your reaching out like this is a significant step in the right direction. I know that many of your colleagues would take a dim view of any effort such as yours so I appreciate what you are doing. I think that there are some things that people in your position can do that would start fencing mending. Hold a few educational seminars specifically directed at detectorists. Teach people about how much more than can learn about the artifacts they dig up if they do try and learn about their context, teach us how to record our finds so that we can preserve more information about context (even if it won't be as good as what professional can do, it would be much better than what we do now). Start a database to record reported finds and encourage detectorists from your state to anonymously enter finds into it even without specific location data. (The reason I say this is that several of the farmers whose fields I have permission to detect on have told me that if I find anything significant not to tell any archaeologists about it as then their land will get tied up in red tape). It might not be the dataset that you really want but again it would be better than what you get now, plus it will be a trust building exercise.
Finally, I think many in the detecting community would support something like Britain's Treasure Trove and Portable Antiquities laws including voluntarily reporting their ordinary finds. The key to that scheme working is that the detectorists and land owners are compensated for their finds if they are kept by government or end up in a museum. I believe that the government sells lottery tickets which provides the funding for operation of the reporting network and to provide funds for museums to purchase significant finds after the valuation committees have established a fair market price for them.
May 26, 2012, 11:39 AM
Originally Posted by Billinoregon
I have no problem with the museums selling, or giving away items (I do have a serious problem with them going in the trash!). Some of my fondest childhood memories are of stopping at Civil War museums all over the south on our family vacations, and being able to purchase little Minnie balls and grapeshot and such in the gift shop (you still can at most). I also always bought whatever books that I could about the area, and battle. I cherished those just as much!
I have a friend at the museum that I referenced in my other post...the one with common sense, and a large display of privately loaned items...they have to turn away items all the time. Their extensive gun collection is mostly on the walls in the office to prevent theft, or waiting until the appropriate display is cycled back in. They had to put a sign in the window saying that they were no longer accepting items on donation....but I doubt anything there would ever end up in the trash, as they actually have a love for local history there, and were just as shocked at hearing of the other museum throwing things away. That little museum has generated a few books on Florida history...
I have said before, that I had heard firsthand from the employees at the Olustee Battlefield State Park, and later, read in some detecting magazine that I can no longer remember, that the park used to rent metal detectors for visitors to search in the field for artifacts....My how things have changed!!!
You can still go to Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas and dig for diamonds, and keep anything you find...I wonder how long that will last with the current "witch hunt" mentality that is so prevelent with anyone with a degree and a state job that has any say-so over "public" lands?
May 26, 2012, 11:42 AM
Easttrail, what if someone offered you a deal where they could break into your house and take everything you've EARNED, but the compromise is a promise that your family will not be harmed. Would you take the deal? Me neither. Treasure hunters don't feel that they owe anything to any agency, just as you don't owe anything to the would be theif, even if they have the government behind them.
May 26, 2012, 12:19 PM
I think one of the main problems is the general hypocrisy, and as mentioned before, the lack of respect, on the side of most of the archaeologists.
The government doesn't care about the "little guy", no matter what they say in public.
Case in point: The Florida Gopher Tortoise....If you pull over on the side of the road and touch one...even to help it get over the road....you could go to jail! However...if you own a large construction company, it is ok to bulldoze them in their burrows, or even bury them alive, or crush them in their burrows...true story! They aren't even required to dig them out and relocate them!
It's a similar situation with metal detecting, bottle hunting, projectile point hunting, whatever....you can remove all the deer, fish, birds, and trees from state land, as long as you buy a permit....but don't pick up that wheat penny, coke bottle, spear point, or musket ball!!!! GRAVE ROBBER!
The paleantologists don't seem to have a problem with private collecting in Florida...as they have the common sense, and normal ego enough to understand that most of the major finds here in fossil sites have come from amatuers. The permit system for fossil hunting works fine, and they still have the option of aquiring a remarkable specimen if necessary. There is plenty of information available for them from the reporting, and most people are more than happy to contribute to the knowledge of our past.
As has been stated before...once a historic site is identified (an unknown camp, fort, or battle location), there isn't much more to learn in most cases, as most things have been fully documented...It was just the actual location that was missing from the record.
You can discover something previously unknown in the fossil record (new species are identified all the time), and it is fine with all involved to privately collect, but I don't know what can be learned from buttons, musketballs, coins, and bottles, that wasn't already known from some other site.
It's time the professional archaeolgists recognize, like the paleontologists have, that private citizens contribute just as much, or more, to the historical record than they do sitting in their offices thinking of ways to derail the hobbiest from finding isolated items for their own collection!
I totally understand why you have to remain anonymous...you would be the new target af their foaming hatred if they found out you were even interested in finding out the "other sides" view!!! It wouldn't be the first time...and it also gives you a clue that you won't be able to change anything until the ones like you that have common sense, and no agenda (if that describes you) have their jobs!
May 26, 2012, 12:44 PM
I don't know for sure exactly what the difference is between treasure trove laws and Britain's Portable Antiquities Scheme. From what I have read on here If an individual makes a signifigant discovery in Europe it (the site and the artifacts) is automatically turned over to the authorities. If it is determined to be of historical importance the museums have first chance at buying it for a fair market value and the money is split 50/50 between the land owner and the individual that made the discovery. I am not huge fan of involving the gov't anymore then necessary but they seem to act as a mediator between detectorist and archeologist over there. It would be nice to know that if I did turn over a signifigant find that it would be handled by a fair and unbiased 3rd party. If you look on the banner there is a Viking treasure that was found recently that was handled this way.
They seem to be able to get along pretty well, their system rewards honesty by treating both sides fairly and has some pretty severe consequences for those who break the rules.
(and yes Bill, raisins should have been turned into wine or tossed.)
Last edited by savant365; May 26, 2012 at 12:48 PM.
May 26, 2012, 12:48 PM
The us goverment would never go for it they rather have it all to there self even if it sits in some basement for 100 years
May 26, 2012, 12:52 PM
Sad but true.
Originally Posted by dustytrails123
May 26, 2012, 01:57 PM
One thing I keep seeing again and again is the idea that historic-era sites are not important. I disagree strongly. The historical record has gaps big enough to drive trucks through. Just because something happened in an era where people wrote things down, that doesn't mean that everybody wrote everything down. Restraining ourselves to a story told only by the educated and literate restricts our understanding of the past to a narrow and non-representative group. With historical documents we can learn about the men who paid for the railroads, but we can learn only scant details about the people who built them. With archaeology, we can learn what their daily life was like. Same goes for sailors, loggers, transients, many people of color, and lots other classes excluded from any real representation in the historical record. Further, the historical record is frequently out-and-out wrong. Sometimes due to misunderstandings, sometimes incompleteness, sometimes malice. There's a lot we can learn about our past from more recent sites.
As for private land, the federal antiquities laws do not apply, nor do most state antiquities acts! I only say "most" because I'm not intimately familiar with all 50. Antiquities from private lands can't be taken away from the landowner! It doesn't matter how significant the site is, it doesn't matter what's there. Some of the most significant sites in the United States are privately owned.
May 26, 2012, 02:28 PM
I'll start out by saying I don't think every 19th and 20th century site needs to be protected. For that matter, not every 18th century site does either.
Originally Posted by Billinoregon
I generally agree with you that things in the top 12 inches are likely to have been disturbed and lack vertical integrity. Frequently they still have horizontal integrity, but for the most part coin shooters don't affect much. The challenge is writing a law that serves the interest of the avocational recreational coin hunter while not serving the interest of plunderers and large-scale looting operations. In principle, am I ok with "low-impact" metal detecting? Sure! Am I ok with someone bulldozing an entire site and dumping it through a sifter looking for something they can sell? No I am not.
Archaeological reports sometimes get bogged down in the minute and insignificant. This is frustrating for all of us (especially if we have to sit through a conference talk from one of those guys!).
Both metal detectorists and archaeologists get painted with broad brushes far too often: the archaeologists as grabby elitists who want to keep everything for themselves, and the detectorists as amoral vandals who are concerned with nothing besides selling their finds. I think both are unfair.
May 26, 2012, 04:17 PM
Originally Posted by easttrail
I'm not saying historic-era sites aren't important. They are very important to me. I'm saying when an archaeologist tells me that the most important thing they look for at a fort site is charcoal, square nails, glass, and ceramic fragments, and that they determine the perameters of the fort, camp, and sentry fires by doing core samples, and only dig a couple of pits because they are not concerned with musketballs and buttons, etc., and then one tells me that they don't think individuals should be allowed to dig up, buy, or own any of these objects that they don't care about (and discard in some cases), that seems a little hypocritical to me.
You bring up private land...Thank goodness we still have that here...but don't think that it isn't under attack by these people as well....Look at Saint Augustine...they are always telling local landowners how important it is to not let anyone dig on their property.
How about the story above about the stone walls? The best way to preserve them is to not let metal detectorist on your land Really So now digging five or six inches in a pasture or plowed field will damage the stone walls? Do you think that any archaeologist is ever going to do an official dig in any of those farms? Why would they? To see how farmers lived 200 years ago? That's no secret! I guess if the all powerful grant money showed up they would!
I think that is the base of the hatred from the professionals towards the hobbiests.
Think about it....Anything that jeopardizes the money is going to be met with vicious defense...which is what we have been seeing as of late. It reeks of "defensiveness". Why is that? The greatest threat to historic and pre-historic sites isn't metal detectorists any hobbiests...it's developement. But they don't go after developers. They know they can't win that one...Remember the part about the governent not caring about the "little guy"? Well in that scenario, the state archaeologist is the little guy, and the big construction company/land developers are the the big guys! They know how to pick their battles!
But the local history buff and relic hunter knows "bunk" when they see it! They know when the wool is being pulled over the publics eyes, like the fort in south florida. The site is already lost (as many are in Florida) to developement, but instead of going after the local government to remove the parking lot, and resort, so that the actual site can be studied (not that it needs to be, since it was a temporary fort like literally hundres more in the state), they go after the retired guy on the beach swinging a detector! After all, he MIGHT find an old musketball or coin, that is out of context!
Another example of this is the Scottish Chief. A blockade runner in the Hillsborough river that was scuttled during the Civil War. The location has been well known for many years. It has appeared in shipwreck books, articles in one of the scuba magazines back in the 60's-70's, and an article in the Baylife section of the Tampa Tribune. You can also see the anchor and some davits from it at a local museum.....But the big story a couple of years ago was how the archaeologists at the Florida Aquarium had recently "found" the wreck!! It even appeared in the same newspaper that had previously done a story on it...They didn't even do a quick search of their own archives...and I know that most newspaper back issues are digitized and searchable if you subscribe to the archive service. They were wanting some more...wait for it....grant money!....to do some further "research" of the site. The site that is burried in the mud at zero visibility....they hoped to re-create the wreck in one of the tanks at the aquarium...Ok...dump a bunch of mud in the tank!
People that have a passion for history, and don't make a living off of it, are the ones that can point stuff like that out...so they are the enemy!!! They must be attacked and silenced! And that attack has turned the common metal detectorist against the aggressive archaeologists....They like to call us all looters and grave robbers. I've been detecting for 30 years, and I've never looted...and certainly never opened a grave, or handled human remains...can most archaeologists claim that?
May 26, 2012, 10:22 PM
I personally do not know any archeologists but I think maybe easttrail might know a detectorist. I'm curious...if you do...have you ever been out with them or been to a club meeting for detectorists? It would be much easier for an actuall archeologist to talk to us then for one of us to try to talk to a room full of archies. I am just saying that most of us would listen with open minds and do what we could to preserve the historical data if you would just let us know what you wanted. We are not going to go to college for 4 or 5 years to learn to be archies but if you came and shared your knowledge most of would love to help.
May 26, 2012, 11:31 PM
I dont trust anyone that comes on here and says ask anything you want and then cant even answer the first question. Yeah I know you explained it, but you still didnt answer it. Lets talk...who are you and what do you do?
May 27, 2012, 12:39 AM
Easttrail, I'm a former archaeologist myself. I'm glad you have come on here with an olive branch. As I have mentioned on here before, I am a very unsuccessful metal detectorist, but still love all aspects of 'treasure' so to speak. My background is Virginia Prehistoric Indians, and I received my MA from the Institute of Archaeology at University College London. Archaeology is one thing I am very good at and really enjoyed, but it just didn't pay the bills, so I bid it farewell a handful of years ago. Living in podunk motels for weeks at a time and barely making enough to cover college loans just didn't cut the mustard, so I moved on to the wonderful world of banking.
I was always the black sheep in school because I enjoyed metal detecting (even though I never find anything) and defended most. I even turned down a job with Odyssey Marine years ago, as my fiance wouldnt marry me unless I had a 100% stable job....bless her, haha! As with anything, there are always bad apples, but you cannot judge an entire group because of that. That goes for metal detectorists and archaeologists. As an archaeologist, I can safely stereotype many of my former colleagues as elitists who felt everything in the ground belonged to 'us'. On the other hand though, the man who actually sparked my interest in archaeology as a kid was also a relic hunter. My philosophy is pretty simple...as long as you are doing it legally, have at it, but just be responsible. Don't grave dig or search on protected lands or properties you do not have permission for. 99.99% of the folks on this website have those same values. They know they already have 2 strikes against them with the academic world, so they do get a bit upset with shows like American Digger or Diggers because those guys tend to give detectorists a bad name. When you are using army shovels to blast away at every target you get, it doesn't help when you try to get permission to dig someone's land and tell them you dig plugs and won't even know you have been there, for example.
I don't have problems if people go hunting for points in fields, because if they do find points, they are out of context to begin with. If a field has been plowed, the top 12-15 inches is useless in archaeological terms, so I don't see a problem with someone collecting points. With prehistoric Indians, my only pet peeve is pot hunters, because those folks do blast through graves to get to the 'good' stuff. With metal detecting, most people don't get below 7-10 inches to begin with, so they really are only scratching the surface so to speak. If you are in a known area for a Civil War battle or camp, for example, professionally I do not see how digging up a minie ball, belt buckle or button takes away from the area historically. My only gripe is those who dig illegally. I've read numerous articles over the years where a metal detectorist stumbles upon something historically significant and does notify a local archaeologist or department of historic resources, so I do think there are plenty of good spirited folks out there.
When I was a student, we began working on land that had just become a state park. There was a star shaped earthworks fort on one side of the river and on the other, was a field that much of the battle took place. Our professor had seen where a metal detector survey was done at the Little Bighorn, so he reached out to some local detectorists for there help in doing something similar. I still remember that my professor and fellow students had some reservations with working with the local relic hunters, but it turned out to be a very good exercise in the end. I do feel that both sides need to work together more. Archaeoligists need to let go of the 'ownership of everything in the ground' idea and metal detectorists need to stop thinking every archaeologist is out to get them. Both sides have a passion for history and most metal detectorists treasure their finds like they are gold from Troy. I think if the constant suspicion was dropped, both sides could learn a lot from each other.
May 27, 2012, 12:55 AM
This is a crazy thread. I feel bad for detectorists in the U.S.. What's with all the drama down there in the States? I'm so glad that issues concerning detecting in Canada are waaay less intense. You're government needs to relax and focus on more important issues...
May 27, 2012, 01:22 AM
Originally Posted by easttrail
People who plunder historical sites are no more detectorists than Jared Loughner was a deer hunter, they're criminals.
The one concern detector guys have is the archaeologists who are concerned about recording, dissemination of information, and sale.... will NEVER EVER get to 99.999% of all the places they have a problem with digging. ( with some that seems like everywhere) Availability doesn't really mean much for things that are still in the ground.
As for American digger, it's so ridiculous it's doesn't bother me in the least now... and they have started opening the show basically saying it's just stories, obviously fictional ones. The first time it's brought up to me in the permission process I'm sure it will make for a pretty good laugh.
Last edited by Iron Patch; May 27, 2012 at 01:32 AM.
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