Digging up a really bad idea

2008_ 013 by e_pics
2008_ 013, a photo by e_pics on Flickr.

This sounds pretty stupid, even for TV. Robert O. Jones forwarded me this email from Ted Sanderson at the RI Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission:

"NEWS  "Savage" Archaeology Loots History on Spike TV


Setting a terrible example, Spike TV has announced a new television
program: "American Digger" that "follows the American Savage team, led
by former professional wrestler-turned-modern- day relic hunter Ric
Savage as they scour target-rich areas, such as battlefields and
historic sites, in hopes of striking it rich by unearthing and selling
rare pieces of American history."

In a press release, Spike TV says: "In the US, there are millions of
historical relics buried in backyards just waiting to be discovered and
turned into profit. “American Digger” hopes to claim a piece of that
pie as the series travels to a different city each week, searching for
high-value artifacts and relics. After pinpointing historical locations,
Savage’s first task is to convince reluctant homeowners to let his
team dig up their property using state-of-the-art metal detectors and
heavy-duty excavation equipment. The team will then sell any artifacts
found for a substantial profit."

As described, this TV program is wrong on so many levels.  In some
jurisdictions, the actions described may be illegal if the land is
publicly-owned or regulated.  In every case, digging up artifacts
removes them from the historical context in which they have meaning,
potentially destroys significant archaeological sites, and treating
artifacts as saleable commodities de-values the heritage we all share.

Beyond deploring what is essentially historical vandalism,
preservationists should be alert to "copy cat" diggers who may try to
search for artifacts and relics at historic properties without
permission.  RIHPHC will be interested to receive information about any
artifact digging in Rhode Island."

Robert adds:
"I am utterly appalled by this.
I will draft a rebuttal immediately (as a citizen acquainted with proper archaeological procedures and artifact protection law).
Is the preservation community organizing counter-measures?  NTHP should be all over this.

As soon as advertisers are identified, I will write them too . . . apparently this can prove very effective.

The implication that stealing (yes, stealing) artifacts & relics is a way to memorialize and show reverence for the past is both stupid and arrogant.
These Neanderthals just want to line their pockets with filthy lucre."

Here is a link to the Spike TV press release.