Message #209: From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG To: "'Matthias Giessler'" Subject: Polar Mesa Cave and UT Vandalism Hotline Number Date: Sun Jun 1 18:43:56 1997 http://www.desnews.com/ Deseret News Archives, Friday, April 18, 1997=20 S. Utah pothunter gets 2 years in prison=20 A southeastern Utah pothunter was sentenced Thursday to two years in prison for what prosecutors characterized as the looting of a veritable museum of archaeological treasures. Scott Timpson, 31, who is already serving a 10-year prison sentence for an unrelated drug con-vic-tion, was also ordered to forfeit a ``priceless'' artifact collection and pay $9,510 restitution into the Native American Grave Protection Act and U.S. Forest Service restoration fund. U.S. District Chief Judge David K. Winder ordered Timpson serve 12 months of the sentence during his current imprisonment and tacked the other 12 months onto the end of the sentence. Timpson has been in an Oregon federal prison for almost four years. In an elaborate plea agreement, Timpson pleaded guilty in December to three of 10 counts of conspiracy and destruction of an archaeological site. He was accused of leading a band of ``hobbyists'' in the unauthorized ex-ca-va-tion of the Polar Mesa Cave in the Manti-LaSal National Forest east of Moab. According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne Dance, Timpson and the others excavated 30 cubic yards of soil in the cave between 1985 and 1991 and took hundreds of Indian artifacts, including human remains. While not excusing Timpson's actions, attorney Michael W. Jaenish argued his client had excavated artifacts as a hobby rather than for commercial purposes. http://www.desnews.com/ Deseret News Archives, Friday, May 23, 1997 Looters destroy cave's archaeological treasure trove Experts say no amount of money can undo damage caused by pothunters. By Joe Costanzo, Staff Writer About 7,000 years before European explorers set foot in America, a band of Indians sought shelter in a cave in the northern LaSal Mountains of what is now Utah. For millennia to come - until about the year 1200 A.D. - their descendants and other native people occupied the cave, living and dying there and leaving behind traces of their existence. Most were Anasazi, though there are hints that the Fremont were there as well, possibly at the same time. What were they like? How did they live? Why were they there?=20 Harbored by the Polar Mesa Cave, the stone tools, utensils, baskets, fiber sandals, leather clothing, pouches and other ordinary articles of the everyday existence of these ancient peoples might have yielded some answers. But that was until modern-day pothunters stumbled across it. With careless disregard for its archaeological significance, the artifact Shown 63%, press
for more, 'q' to quit, or 'h' for help hunters plundered the cave and destroyed what experts have called a library of antiquity. The worst damage was done from 1989 through 1991, when looters excavated 54 cubic yards of material from the cave - equal to 20 pickup truck loads - and hauled away more than 500 artifacts, including human remains. In 1995, nine of the pothunters were identified, indicted and prosecuted under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act. All nine pleaded guilty to a combined 17 felonies. Three of the men were sentenced to two-year prison terms and six were placed on probation. They were ordered to pay $25,555 restitution. But no amount of money can make up for the damage they caused, said Wil Numkena, director of the Utah Division of Indian Affairs. The violation to Indian heritage is irrevocable, he said. Stan McDonald, archaeologist for the Manti-LaSal National Forest, agreed, saying, ``The loss cannot be overstated. Although the looting of the cave has been resolved through the legal process, a large chapter of Utah's fascinating prehistory has been destroyed forever.'' Numkena, McDonald and other key figures in the Polar Mesa Cave investigation and prosecution joined U.S. Attorney Scott M. Matheson Jr. at a press conference Tuesday to hail the convictions and to call upon the public to protect the state's archaeological treasures. Noting the Polar Mesa Cave case was the single largest prosecution of archaeological violators in U.S. history, Matheson said Utah has taken Shown 83%, press for more, 'q' to quit, or 'h' for help the lead in fighting such crimes. ``These are tough cases, but the priceless cultural heritage at stake makes the necessary dedication and commitment not only worthwhile but imperative,'' Matheson said. Acting on a tip from a private citizen, the U.S. attorney's office launched its investigation in 1990 with the help of the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Grand County and Moab law enforcement agencies. Investigators built their case with the help of forensic evidence analyzed by the FBI Laboratory in Washington, D.C., and the Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute in Pennsylvania. Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne Dance, who prosecuted the nine looters, has become a leading authority on the Archaeological Resources Protection Act as well as on the resources it's meant to protect. Polar Mesa Cave was a prime example, he said. ``This case was about much more than the loss of artifacts,'' Dance said. ``It was about the loss of respect for prehistoric culture and people. What we've lost here is irreplaceable.'' And it didn't make any difference that the defendants were in it as a hobby rather than for commercial gain, Dance said. ``In my experience, the hobbyists are causing as much if not more damage to archaeological sites than the commercial looters.'' During their sentencings, most of the defendants argued they simply engaged in an activity that is commonplace in southeastern Utah. It's been going on for generations, they said. Numkena said that's no excuse. ``If society condones this as a lifestyle, we're in trouble.'' He likened the crime to someone desecrating a pioneer gravesite or plundering revered treasures from a museum or library. All of the Polar Mesa artifacts found in the collections of the defendants have been seized and will be placed in the care of a museum in Cedar City. Forest Service officials estimate it will cost about $515,000 to stabilize the cave. Those sentenced to prison in the Polar Mesa case were Scott Andrew Timpson, 33; Collin Don McIntyre, 33; and Gregory Lynn Lathrom, 34. Receiving fines and probation were Basil Edgar Beach, 28; Robert Gary Davis, 41; Brian Keith Engstron, 31; Kenneth Walter Kirby, 39; Paul Todd McKee, 29; and Robert Roland Tolley, 31. All were Moab residents at the time of their indictment. Matheson said he hopes the successful prosecution of the nine defendants in the Polar Mesa Cave case will serve an ``educational'' purpose. ``For those who wantonly go out and loot archaeological sites, we will do everything we can to find you, and we will do everything we can to punish you,'' Matheson said. He asked the public to report any incidents of archaeological vandalism to a special hotline number: 1-800 722-3998.