Commercialization and the Avocational


The sale of, exchange of, trade of a person’s property is not unlawful. Politically, Capitalism in some circles is a breath of fresh air while at the same time in other arenas it symbolizes decay and degradation of quality in place of profits. Ironically, the barter system is not the enemy for where there are producers there will be consumers: Not each member in society has the ability or can afford to produce all their own needs, so supply and demand is perpetuated by need. The market is based on competitive price points where consumers aim at savings at the same time the producers aim for profitable returns on investment. In sophisticated enculturated societies, capitalism produces specialist and in many cases it has proven to increase quality. In healthy systems, consumers drive quality control. But with nonrenewable resources it gets scrutinized because the products are not invented, created or grown but are preexistent. In these cases the disputable variables are in the recovery and distribution practices of finders, and that gets compounded when goods are recovered from State Sovereign Lands and Waterways. However, is the barter of antiquities really about unjustified profits for the finders or in the financing of an exchange where objects move from a vulnerable location to curated one? Is our real problem the envy between professional and secular curators?

Is a fisherman that chooses to harvest within the law and the parameters of permit not the owner of the fish they have caught? A study on capitalism with regard to public resources and the free market could be clarified from examples like state wild life and fisheries and others. Wild life is a public resource which without oversight and preservation many species run the risk at all times of extinction. Though the living organisms at first glance appear to be a renewable resource with management, it is sustained and thrives by a balance between regulation and the harvester. Another one that unravels contradiction in the claims that commercialization of antiquities should be banned, is the Treasure Hunter Permits and its definition as to property rights. These salvagers pay big money to the process and to the state in order to recover artifacts that then they commercially draw profits from. Similarly, Geology is another area of review, prospecting and mining are long running commercialization of nonrenewable resources. These three examples deal with state sovereignty and property rights and all three fund themselves by commercialization. Artifacts and antiquity are truly limited resource, yet there is still things that can be implemented versus zero tolerance of amateur collection. Along with Fossils and Underwater Logging, it seems inconsistent to target and prohibit this one area of resources, Artifacts, while all along partnering with the commercialization of the others. Seems the conversation is about when a finder of a salvaged antiquity on public lands is or is not the owner and in control of the find as their  property.

At present in Florida, it seems Artifact regulation is a tailor fit for Government funded academia and zero tolerance for those outside of that ‘Good ol Boy Club’. Their lack of familiarity with reality tends to slant a perspective based on exceptions and not the norms. The majority of collectors are an asset for Archaeology and they are not thieves, looters, nor corrupt profiteers. The current problem in Florida is based on property and the ownership of objects found in around our rivers and navigable waterways. The debate is not about protected sites, parks, or private property, yet if you didn’t know better you would assume that it was about looting in protected areas and parks by the continual misleading pitches of professional propaganda. Asserting enforcement targeting the commercialism of antiquities recovered from waterways is like lunging at low hanging fruit and a shock and aw over reach of policing for so called preservation, and it is unjust since there is no means of permit for the avocational nor is there a grandfathering in of goods recovered when it was lawful and or a permit was in place for river recovered artifacts.

In Florida, territory is being rapidly developed by the rise in population, but that does not argue against a need for avocational recovery of antiquity but actually builds a strong case for the need for citizen scientist to be empowered to become even more instrumental in the future of Florida’s Archaeological record. In that way, the only sustainable, practical, and reliable reformation will come through amending and revising laws that protect the public in order to ground a working relationship between the academic professional, the secular professional, the avocational, and the amateur archaeologist, along with the residents and tourist alike. The loss of territory in Florida by population bloom both exasperate a perceived vulnerability of the archaeological situation and has set forth a biased over exertion of control towards zero tolerance. The fear that nonrenewable resources are in danger from a perceived heightened commercial supply and demand among secular professional archaeologist is unfounded by facts and are assumptions. However, population increase directly affects land sites and over time will impact waterways by dredging, bulk heads, docks, channel redirection and embankment alterations, so why not let a trained citizen recover and salvage in the areas that are not of significant archaeological significance since said sites with artifacts in the near future will be destroyed inadvertently with or without anti collector laws. The river bottoms never get showcased to justify the anti-collector position, yet land sites with rare occurrences of looting which should have better protection get used to represent the harm the amateur has on sites. It is a classic case of misrepresenting the truth and miscasting the collector.

To say that the quality of Archaeology has no benefits by the commercialization of a marginal number of artifacts is a near sided politically and professional bias based on an alienated point of view. If the professional was not hell bent on enforcement and the bending of broad language in the law to favor anti collecting agenda, then they would have a more transparent relationship with the avocational, and if the government side hadn’t flip flopped on so many folk through the years and had regulated themselves as diligently as they do the public, it would have gained more respect and a better positive public image with common sense, consistent, fair procedures, policies and practices. Currently, it is divided to an unprecedented level based on the polarizing agenda that seems to be set on criminalizing and producing policy for outlaws instead of finding ways to set forth permitting and beneficial regulations for partnership. The agenda of a few elitist or ‘big its’ in governmental control exemplify the disagreement between exceptions and tend to adjust policy changes based on the point of view of a few. The recent debates seem to reveal many of the state’s leadership are apparently motivated by having the final say in a disagreement.

The few’s problem with a few should not affect the many, and a few ought not to create policy that adversely suppresses the whole. The major inequality and injustice is that since 1967, the governmental group has the strong arm of influence and immunity in the law. While the majority on all sides of Archaeology know clearly that justice is best served by reforming the law, for now unfortunately the various definition and inconsistencies with ‘permission’ seems to shape current perception and the negative impacts on the public by enforcement. Some justify heavy handed, broad policing and mishandled government spending since it validates and undergirds the politics and funding of the overweight machine that is already gobbling up resources and has no intention of going on a diet. Some need to sort out in their core for not just what is right in the law, but what is right one family, one citizen to another as united country men with similar interest. All sides need to confront their own inconsistency and redefine a positive conflict resolution for the future.