Message #291:
From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG
To:   "'Matthias Giessler'" 
Subject: Paul Martin Collections
Date: Tue, 10 Sep 96 08:54:00 MST
Encoding: 46 TEXT

From:  Jonathan Haas, FMNH, Field Museum & Dept of Anthro, U. of Illinois 

For three years running now I have submitted proposals to NSF (Systematic 
Anthropology) to catalog and computerize the archaeological collections of 
Paul Martin held at the Field Museum.   For three years running now the 
proposal has gotten good reviews, but no funding.  These collections 
represent all of Martin's expeditions from the Akmen-Lowry area of southwest 
Colorado to his years of work in east-central Arizona/west-central New 
Mexico, including Tularosa Cave, Carter Ranch, etc.  At present, the 
collections are largely uncatalogued and can be accessed only by a manual 
search.  The project would catalog all the artifacts and make the 
information available through the Internet.

On the last round, one critical commentator suggested that with all the good 
new work going on in these areas today, the research value of the Martin 
collections is decreasing annually.  Since these are not areas where I 
personally work, I cannot adequately respond to such a comment.  So I 
thought I would go out to a larger archaeological community and ask for 
input.  Do the Martin collections continue to have long-term value for 
research in the Southwest?  If so, why and how?

If there isn't a real sense out there that this is a worthwhile project, I 
am going to give up on the resubmissions.  Some of the reviewers are getting 
tired of seeing the annual revisions, and I don't want to keep wasting 
everyone's time.  Please send me your thoughts and comments.

Jonathan Haas (312) 922-9410 ext 641

[ SASIG Ed. Note -- It seems to me, reductio ad absurdum, that the NSF 
reviewer's comments may be cynically construed as an argument against 
curation of collections in perpetuity.  The reviewer's comment that the 
Martin collection seems to "decrease in value annually" indicates that the 
reviewer believes the value of research collections is based upon some kind 
of 'research popularity' calculus.  Whether or not one works in a particular 
research area is not the issue.  Nonsense and dementia should be challenged 
wherever it is encountered.  Martin's collections are quite important for a 
number of reasons ( I can think of several and I wager you can too !).  I 
don't know how many times I have seen exciting new research come from 'old' 
collections from around the Southwest.  If the NSF reviewer has his/her head 
where the sun never shines, perhaps it is time to seek other grant sources 
(e.g., NCPTT) in order to make the data available through the Internet. 
     -- Brian Kenny  ]