Message #290:
From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG
To:   "'Matthias Giessler'" 
Subject: Protecting The Past From History Thieves
Date: Mon, 09 Sep 96 08:23:00 MST
Encoding: 141 TEXT


[SASIG Ed. Note --  These articles detail the US Air Force position on 
historic preservation issues on military bases: 
1. http://www.afmc.wpafb.af.mil/organizations/HQ-AFMC/PA/leading_edge/apr96/looters.htm
2. http://www.afmc.wpafb.af.mil/organizations/HQ-AFMC/PA/leading_edge/apr96/lootside.htm]

1. 
Protecting the past: Looters threaten archeological treasures -- The past 
belongs to the future, but only the present can preserve it. Protecting 
national treasures has become a challenge for many cultural resource 
managers at archeological sites located on military installations around the 
country. Archeological sites represent who we are, and where we have been. 
These sites can include sacred burial grounds, villages, turpentine and 
whiskey stills, ghost towns, prehistoric trash sites and historic battle 
sites. The study of the prehistory and history of people is often done by 
archaeologists, anthropologists, historians and some American Indians   
compiling data, information and evidence as they work. In order to do this 
correctly, the sites must be undisturbed. Once these sites have been 
disturbed, they cannot be reconstructed and the past is lost forever. 
 Protected by law --  Archeological sites on federal property are required 
to be preserved by laws dating back to the Antiquities Act of 1906. More 
recently enacted is the Archeological Resource Protection Act (ARPA) and the 
Archeological and Historic Preservation Act.  A military installation would 
seem an ideal location to safeguard these sites, but unfortunately that is 
not always the case. Looters and casual collectors alike are gaining access 
in many creative ways. The Government is taking precautions to prevent this 
from happening. Under ARPA, which covers sites over 100 years old, violators 
can be imprisoned, fined as much as $250,000 and their vehicles and 
equipment confiscated. The law also has provisions for imposition of civil 
penalties.  Still, many people have made a career of stealing national 
treasures for their own personal profit. Although looting of sites less than 
100 years old and surface collecting are not illegal under ARPA, looters can 
be charged with theft or destruction of government property.  At Edwards Air 
Force Base, Calif., there are homestead sites where looters and artifact 
hunters search for glass bottles and antiques. Relying on technology to 
plunder the landscape, the metal detector enthusiasts search for buckles, 
coins, buttons, metal toys, kitchenwares and money.  Also located at Edwards 
is a World War II campsite, prehistoric hunting camps, temporary camps, and 
base camps. According to Rick Norwood, cultural resource manager at Edwards, 
base officials have found screens left behind by artifact hunters.  Ancient 
history unveiled --  At Robins Air Force Base, Ga., site excavations have 
uncovered thousands of ancient stone relics, ranging from spear points and 
tools to pottery shards. One archaeological site shows evidence of 
occupation as early as 4,000 B.C. A second discovery indicated occupation as 
far back as 10,000 B.C.  Robins has had problems with pot hunting. A large 
village site had been heavily damaged by looters before protective measures 
were taken.  Harsh sentence imposed --  One man, a self-admitted 
third-generation pot hunter, was recently convicted and sentenced to over 
six years in prison. This is the harshest sentence imposed to date under 
ARPA, and it is hoped that it will send a message to other pothunters.  If 
you loot and plunder archaeological sites, we will try to find you, 
prosecute you, and ask the court to punish you,  said U.S. Attorney Scott M. 
Matheson, Jr.  The man believed he had a special right to destroy, loot and 
plunder and he made a way of life selling pottery, baskets and other 
artifacts he stole from federal lands in southeastern Utah.  He claims he 
looted his first grave when he was three years old. He granted an interview 
to a national publication that included a photograph of himself leaning on a 
shovel and wearing a hard hat. He bragged about making up to $5,000 a day 
digging up ancient graves. In a television interview in 1988, he bragged his 
chances of being caught were  about one in a million.   Looting is not the 
only problem. Vandalism also takes a toll on our cultural resources. Typical 
activities include shooting at homestead sites, graffiti and dumping of 
trash.  Campers and hikers pose another danger. They may unknowingly disturb 
or destroy a site in an area yet to be surveyed. An additional problem is 
that recreational vehicles and motorcycles often leave approved trails and 
damage sites.  Proactive steps being taken to protect sites include the use 
of remote monitoring devices and increased Security Police awareness. At 
Edwards, public education is extensive. Security personnel are  using 
displays to educate school children. A videotape has been prepared to 
educate contractors, tenants and Security Police. Presentations to local 
collectors by the base cultural resource manager also serves to educate the 
public about the need to protect these valuable resources.  Robins personnel 
have developed a traveling exhibit and film focusing on the protection of 
archaeological resources. An educational film focusing on the science of 
archaeology and the sites at Robins has been developed, with a special 
 segment in the video focusing exclusively on the protection of cultural 
resources.  National register archaeological sites have been fenced at 
Robins, and signs have been posted indicating that both criminal and civil 
penalties can be imposed on trespassers.  Creating a framework -- 
Archeological sites create a framework for thinking about the past. The past 
belongs to all of us, and learning about our ancestors make us whole. There 
are ways everyone can help prevent this selfless minority from stealing 
national treasures, according to Lynn Engelman, Air Force Materiel Command 
cultural resource manager.  Become educated about preserving traces of the 
past. Safeguard one of America s greatest treasures it s heritage. Engelman 
encourages everyone to  report vandalism, looting, defacement or excavations 
of prehistoric and historic sites to the Cultural Resource management office 
of the federal property in question.   The national cultural resources 
located on the public domain is your history   your past.  
By Libby VanHook   AFMC Public Affairs

2. 
Eglin battles history thieves -- Eglin Air Force Base, located in the 
Panhandle of Florida, contains a wealth of cultural resources.  With 150,000 
acres still left to survey, Eglin s archaeologists have located 520 historic 
sites. These include prehistoric American Indian villages, camps, hunting 
sites, and other sites inhabited by Contact Period American Indians, 
Colonial settlers, early frontier homesteaders and farmers,  members of the 
turpentine industry working in the Choctawhatchee National Forest, and World 
War II test and training sites.  Unfortunately, the knowledge potentially 
gained from this wide variety of sites is endangered. Looters are robbing 
these sites of their artifacts, the context of these artifacts, and their 
ability to pass on history.  Destroying history -- Looters and vandals may 
think they're only retrieving a few pieces of pottery or an interesting 
bottle but they're rapidly destroying an archaeological site. Artifacts are 
the data of a site, and the context in which these artifacts are situated 
and associated is how archaeologists read and analyze data. The presence or 
absence of a single artifact affects the analysis of the site.  A simple 
analogy to explain the destructive nature of looting is to compare it to the 
removal of a line from a story. Perhaps the missing line will not affect the 
tale at all, or perhaps the line is the crucial conclusion to a mystery. 
 Eglin officials have instituted a program of public awareness and legal 
ramification they  hope will end this problem. The Cultural Resources Office 
has produced a video explaining the obligations of those on Eglin to avoid 
sites. This video is shown on the base television channel to people working 
and living on Eglin.  Periodically, the cultural resources office hosts 
tours and discussions to explain the area s history, and the importance of 
avoiding these sites.  Signs at access points near each site state 
 Sensitive Area, No Digging, No Vehicles.   It s believed the public 
awareness campaign will result in a significant decrease in looting and 
vandalism by  weekend collectors.  However, the problem of knowledgeable 
looters still exists.  Security Police patrol the sites on a regular basis. 
Upon request, the police have agreed to increase patrols at any site. 
 Cultural Resources officials regularly visit the sites. Evidence of looting 
or vandalism is reported immediately to the Security Police. This team 
effort has resulted in catching looters in action and decreasing damage done 
to the sites.  This team effort can extend to any person living, working, or 
playing at a military facility. At Eglin, help is encouraged by asking 
people to report any possible looting, vandalizing, or artifact discovery to 
the Cultural Resources Management office.  These historical sites have the 
potential to yield a wealth of knowledge about the history of this area and 
its early inhabitants. As a team, everyone can work together to preserve and 
interpret the history around us.
By Corinne D. Hollon   Air Force Development Test Center Public Affairs