Message #185:
From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG
To:   "'Matthias Giessler'" 
Subject: Re: Unanticipated Discovery Situation
Date: Tue, 13 May 1997 18:55:05 -0700


Re: Unanticipated Discovery Situation


From:	Charles F. Merbs 

My inclusion in the Az. Rep. article was based upon a phone call from a
reporter that caught me completely by surprise.  I had not heard that a
skull had been found in Mesa and the Medical Examiner's Office had not
informed me that the skull would be sent to ASU.

Human skeletal material brought to our (ASU's) attention generally falls
into three categories. 

One is recent homicide cases, missing persons cases, etc.; here the
jurisdiction is clearly with the Medical Examiner's Office and the
police departments involved.

A second category is ancient (archaeological) material.  Here the
Arizona Burial Law has primacy and ASM is contacted.

The third category falls between the first two and consists of
unidentified material, clearly not real modern, and not found in a
meaningful context.  They are usually curiosities, trophy skulls, old
anatomical specimens, etc.  If they can be demonstrated to be Native 
American the laws pertaining to such are followed.  Others are simply
old anatomical specimens that no longer have living or interested
owners.  This kind of material may serve as a valuable teaching aid, but
is of little if any anthropological interest.

My impression when the reporter first called was that the skull belonged
in category three, and my comments were aimed in that direction.  I then
called the Medical Examiners Office and was informed that the Mesa skull
more likely fell in category two.  I informed them that ASM should be
contacted and repeated that to the Mesa Police when they 
called me.

Channel 12 called after that, and, with more information, I could give
them a better idea of what was going on.  Channel 12 News did get it
correct in their early evening news, saying that ASM was being notified
about the find.

All the best.  Chuck.
May there always be skeletons in your closet!
Charles F. Merbs      cfm9336@IMAP1.ASU.EDU
Phone: (602)965-4537 or (602)965-6213 for messages
FAX: (602)965-7671