Comments are grouped by article. All comments are from students in Dr. Ken Tankersley's Introduction to Archaeology class at Kent State Univesity. (posted as received)
The Mother of Indiana Jones by Forrest Fenn
Regardless of whether a project is privately funded or federally
funded or not, the point of research, excavation, or any pursuit
of knowledge, should be to educate all. A museum is based on
certain principals; to preserve, protect, display and educate
for the public. Each museum has its own unique mission statement.
It seems Dr. Watkins would prefer to put all findings and artifacts
into the hands of museums and out of private collectors and scholars.
Upon reading the article entitled Mother of Indiana Jones,
I was happily surprised by the candor of the author to distribute
her thoughts to "fourteen year olds everywhere." He
claimed that all of the true archaeologists have a better than
thou attitude thus causing them to not want to distribute their
knowledge to the public. Perhaps this is true in the case concerning
Dr. Watkins, but I believe that many of them are adamant in spreading
the word of America's past to everyone. Would universities promote
courses on archaeology by unaccredited professors or publishing
companies sell research novels about excavations with out knowledge
of the author's background? The archaeologists must want people
to learn or there would not be so many professors, and they clearly
are not in it for the money. I think the author could have given
some credit to some educated archaeologists, whose aim isn't
to keep secret the lore behind the world's beginnings, otherwise
he may have some large enemies besides Watkins after this article.
Despite a title that has little or nothing to do with the
topics represented in the article, Mr. Fenns argument is
important to consider in this day and age. There has always been
tension in the field of archaeology revolving around the topic
of private collectors and amateur archeologists having a place
in the field versus professional archaeologists. This article
examines much of this tension some of which is brought about
by a Mr. Joe Watkins who questions whether of not he should have
attended the archaeology conference Clovis and Beyond
due to it being held by an amateur archaeologist, Mr. Forrest
Fenn. I found Mr. Watkins comments to be outlandish and hypocritical
after learning from Mr. Fenns article that Mr.Watkins listed
university for the conference was Indiana. Indiana University
wouldnt have an archaeology department much less a Joe
Watkins if it werent for a private, amateur collector by
the name of Eli Lilly, who made serious donations of money and
objects throughout the course of his life. The article makes
the point that without private donations from collectors like
Mr. Lilly the future of archaeology looks grim. Furthermore government
led archaeology excavations usually result in a mess of unpublished
rubble that has little significance for the modern world. In
my opinion, private collectors play a significant role in the
maintenance of archeology. Without their support, everyone from
museums to universities would be at a loss.
Jim R. Cannonie
I read The Mother of Indiana Jones, and found it to be quite interesting. I found it interesting because many of the archaeologists bad mouthing private collectors, are somehow connected to a private collector themselves. Eli Lilly is an example of this. Lilly, being a private collector, funded many archaeological related subjects, yet actual educated archaeologists would not mention him. I believe that there is no problem with being a private collector. The public should be allowed to view the artifacts that are being discovered in museums and with private collectors. Without private collectors, there would be no archaeologists. There is nothing to back me up, but I would think that when a person gets interested in archaeology, it is because the once collected them. Im sure that if an ordinary person was to find a dozen or so arrow heads, that they would not collect them. I find it hard to believe that private collectors are looked down upon. I can see that if the private collectors where looters, that would be a different story. I see no reason why a person should not be allowed to collect artifacts.
The article also talked about certain sites being protected. I believe that if the site is of significant value, than it should be protected, but however, if it is a site that is privately owned, then Im not sure what should happen. The article talked about the right of ownership, but I have no idea on what the laws are, so I cannot comment on that.
Private collectors should be allowed to collect artifacts
and show them. If it wasnt for collectors, who knows where
archaeology might be.
Forrest Fenn is a collector and avocational archaeologist, as such she does not have formal training in archaeology and obtains archaeological objects for private collections. To some archaeologist this is a sore point. Some see archaeology as a field in that should be run by people who have had a formal education in this area. This is not an unprecedented viewpoint, other fields hold it as well and in some cases the government makes it illegal to practice in a field without education. However such harsh restrictions are usually preserved for fields such amedicine where someones well-being can be greatly harmed, even resulting in death. Other fields have no such restrictions and can even be populated with many people who have no formal education. Computer programming is an example of such an area. So the question is should archaeology be restricted to archaeologists or should avocational archaeologists be valued members of the archaeological community as well.
I would say yes. This is not to say archaeology is not an important area of study. It helps us to learn about our past and where we come from and this is indeed valuable. However I do not see archaeology as something that is so important that only formally educated professionals should be involved. As demonstrated by Forrest Fenn's article(1) people without any formal education have mad valuable contributions to the field of archaeology. These people had a great interest in archaeology and studied it on their own. They had a passion for archaeology even though they were not educated in it. Some, such as Eli Lilly(1) even used their own wealth to allow others after them to learn about archaeology and have funding for research. If someone has an interest in archaeology and can make a valuable contribution to the field, even without a university degree, then they should be allowed to do. Both those who are involved in archaeology as an interest and those who build their careers around archaeology should be able to work together toward a common goal. If they do no then important information could go unheeded and be no good to any part of society.
(1)Fenn, Forrest (2000). The Mother of Indiana Jones. Ohio Archaeologist, Summer 2000. Located at "Friends of America's Past", http://www.freindsofpast.prg/00/forum-000610.html.
After reading the article "The Mother Of Indiana Jones"
I would have to side with collectors. I do not see why places
like universities and museums have a high and mighty attitude
to wear the pieces that are uncovered will go. If the collectors
are out there and have the cash, why not take it. The archaeologists
make a point that the pieces belong to the world and must be
shared by everyone. First look at it this way, if you collect
baseball cards, for example, and you have a rare card from the
forties. Now since that is an object of this time period, does
that mean it also belongs to everyone? You found it, or paid
someone to look for it for you. Is it still yours or does it
belong to the world? Lets you go looking for the card yourself
and other "professional card finders" get mad at you
for trying to find it yourself as an amateur, would you stop
looking? It is this attitude the university and museum archeologists
have that I do not like. Why should they be the ones that decide
their fate? True they did find the object, but they could drop
their pretentiousness and let the collector have a break, a collector's
market mind you that is growing rapidly, and offer a sale. Its
not going to hurt a museum that only a fraction of people will
ever visit to have one less trinket.
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