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Author Topic: Tony Baker's PIDBA Web Page is Up  (Read 3497 times)
Charlie Hatchett
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« on: July 04, 2008, 06:14:38 PM »

"...Dear Arrowhead Hunter

This letter is written to the individual who hunts and finds arrowheads. It has two purposes: first to discuss arrowhead hunting from my perspective of an arrowhead hunter/archaeologist and second to ask you to contribute some of your knowledge to the Paleoindian Database of the Americas (PIDBA). If you are a buyer/seller of arrowheads or a professional archaeologist, then don't waste your time reading further. It will only make you angry..."

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« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2009, 05:54:53 PM »

Even revered figures sometimes espouse gratuitously provocative positions. One example of this, arguably, is Mr. Baker's in this instance.

I have bought a fair number of paleoindian artifacts from artifact dealers' junk boxes and on ebay over the years, in the same spirit that I have adopted four cats which were destined for animal shelters and probable euthanasia. Both have been worthwhile endeavors and sources of great joy.

In the real world (particularly in the USA), there is simply no possibility of archaeology being done as it should be. Resources are dwindling to the point where even the cost of having blood analysis done on the recently discovered Colorado paleo cache had to be paid by the landowner himself. Museums are refusing all but the most noteworthy donations because their holdings exceed their ability to properly curate what they already have. In such a climate, one in which only the widespread co-operation of everyone interested can keep a shaky endeavor moving forward, for one faction to continue to demonise another one (as has been the fashion in professional archaeology for the past thirty or so years) is irresponsible. It is irresponsible because it alienates the thousands of volunteer legs and eyes it needs to assess the world around it, and rules out any likelihood of widespread improvement in collecting/reporting ethics the only way (people being people) it can be improved -- through persuasion and role-model example.

Collecting things is an innate human behavior. In cases such as that in Alabama, where the previous damage has been largely healed and professional-amateur bridges built, the resulting synergy has benefited all concerned beyond anyone's expectations. If models of approaches that work are needed, this, the ASAA and other endeavors that are "part of the solution" are easily enough copied. This might begin with the realistic acknowledgement that the number of artifacts already collected over the past 200 years so far exceeds the profession's ability to even catalogue them that obsessing over private individuals holding them is futile. And that the great majority of them, again realistically, are of little or no interest to anyone, being common types, made of common materials, and with even their general area contexts long since lost.

I, for one, look forward to the day when my collection can be entrusted to a project capable of curating and learning from it. As matters stand, this is probably a hope shared by all involved, but seemingly not with sufficient intensity that much is being done to bring it to pass.

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