As some of you know, I have a B.A. degree in anthropology (1990). I’ve never had a career as an anthropologist 😦 but I was lucky enough to work with a great group of archaeologists when I was an Administrative Assistant at the Anthropological Studies Center (and earlier, at the California Historical Resources Information System), both at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, California.
One such archaeologist, Mike Newland, is also a very creative and gifted artist, writer and teacher. It is obvious that he cares deeply about who he is, what he does, and about educating others. KQED Public Radio has broadcast several of his radio essays, a couple which I’ve referenced in previous posts. The newest one is about his concern on a recent matter, which speaks on behalf of myself and others who are like-minded. In just a few short moments, he explains the importance of preserving our historical and cultural heritage, in a way that will ultimately benefit all of us, not just a few.
There are those who clearly don’t share this perspective, namely cable’s Spike TV and National Geographic (and the viewers who support the shows in question). Each station is airing a reality show that glamorizes and encourages so-called ‘treasure hunting’, American Diggers and Diggers, respectively. Click here to listen to Mike’s brief radio essay and/or join the Facebook Page called People Against Spike TV’s American Digger.
Of course, the idea of finding buried treasure appeals to a lot of folks, it has long been romanticized as being exciting, and potentially money-making. But it is also disruptive to educational research and disrespectful of our past and the people who created it (if it is done at all, let alone incorrectly). No one is perfect, but at least anthropologists and archaeologists have noble intentions, even if in retrospect they haven’t always approached things in the best way. But they continue to learn and revise their craft as they go. It’s part and parcel of the scientific method. They are our best go-to people, and they need our help.
So, if you want to become involved in hunting/collecting treasures, do so ethically and responsibly. To determine what to do with what you find, in the first place leave it where it is, take a photo if possible, and then consult a reputable, qualified, professional archaeologist, preferably at a local university, about what to do next. Better yet, in addition to seeking out a professional for the short-term, consider the long-term investment of becoming one yourself! Go back to school and find a professional career in which you can channel your passions! 🙂 The ASC at SSU is a good place to start…