When we have such a loud over bearing public appeal by professionals that all avocational amateur archaeologist should not be able to participate in the historic and prehistoric collection of antiquities due to lack of specialization, education, ill intentions or lack of public exposure, it becomes clear those shallow arguments have underlying agenda and posturing. It is easy to get an eye witness account when one takes a visit to a local Florida museum and sees that on display is the low grade examples of lithic material misnomenclated and displayed in error. Even an amateur can get typology and presentation correct, so what is really going on here?
It only takes one discussion with those who have worked behind the scenes in local museums to realize that there are thousands of artifacts stored away with no future intentions of being visible to the public even though many of them are rare, high quality, one of a kind examples of an artifact. Seems anti-climactic to the arguments that the amateurs don’t serve the public as good as the professional since the majority of the high grade artifacts are citizen donated specimens, yet the very public who donated them can’t enjoy them. There are some instances, to add to this, where things have disappeared and family members can’t get straight answers as to where their family member’s donations have gone or been housed. Other reports where a retiree was honored with a frame of rare Paleo Spear points from the states collection, donated to her as personal property as a going away present.
Other ironic catch 22, is the instances of over enforcement to divers and this misportrayal of collectors destroying habitat and the context with their implements, boats and motorized equipment. Here is an account from a certain trip by an avocational diver who was in a shallow river near Sanford Florida, and the FWC officers we so overzealous to catch him doing wrong they could care less about the three bags of garbage the diver had recovered off the bottom to throw away and recycle. They simply said, ‘we don’t have time to worry about that stuff’ and told the boater they wouldn’t take it and that he could go throw it away. The officers were only pressing and attentive, being overly clear that no artifacts should be recovered off the bottom while cleaning and that they had plenty of time to check out his collection of trash for those things if he tried to hide them in the trash. After driving on by assuring the diver they would be back by, the said diver went back down in the shallows to see a trench rooted along the streams edge just to notice countless bone pins broken and freshly ruined by the officer’s boat motor.
Look, the tide has shifted in our country where currently many believe Government does everything best and unfortunately that has seemed to empower many whose livelihood is based on the public’s taxation. They tend to put down the commercialization of antiquities while in essence they are in the business of History for a profit as well. Just because one dresses their agenda up with letters after their name, it does not then give them a license to use that platform to coheres the young and many times naive college aged voters, nor does it give them the right to use that platform to impose on public politics. Some, being so hell bent on distortions that have then been used to undergird heavy handed enforcement, have bankrupted, and legally abused fellow Americans. They will have to give account to God one day for their lack of common sense.
It is not assumption that we have a huge disconnect in Archaeology between Citizen Science and Professional. When in a subcommittee hearing on House Bill 803 and a writer of the Tallahassee Democrat and Historian makes comments to build a case that opposes the bill, and she uses an analogy that the proposed permit given to avocationals, no matter how innocent the Bill’s intentions are, is like giving each citizen a screw driver and allowing them to come to Tallahassee and ‘chisel’ off a piece of the refurbished Historic Capitol building so they can all be able to take home a souvenir of Florida’s History. Comments like this sends a loud and clear message that the Division of Historic Resources motivated by these sort of historian perceptions has a clear motivation to remove all amateurs or hobbyist rights and their abilities to collect antiquities from State lands, embankments and submerged bottoms.
Though this Bill HB803 and SB1054 amends portions of Law as pertains to collections of antiquities for underwater and adjoining embankments, it has become overtly apparent that many Academics all across our Nation are assuming stake in the conversation, and they are persuasive in that dialogue, that if one does not have a degree, has not chosen to be a professional in any of the various subdivisions of Anthropology, then that person is a looter, a robber, stealing from America and its citizens.
When claims continue to be platformed that America has an epidemic or grave problem with its “out of control antiquities market”, the writing is clear as day on the political wall. When Politicians are ask to base perception of a problem off of EBay and not legal investigations, we must address the folly! The folly that many of us amateurs believe many accounts are fake and set forth by the opposition to make there exaggerated claims on the inflated monetary incomes from antiquities. All of us in the hobby, know EBay to be a deceitful cover for the crooked to make money off of the ignorant investors around the world since most of the time those items on EBay are either fake, stolen, or way overpriced.
Our civil liberties are going to continue to be confiscated by governmental entities if we do not begin to collectively combat legislative over reach and rally with one another around collector rights to amend and get laws to a place of protection and not prosecution. Listen, we cannot allow hyper exaggerated professional propaganda and estranging rhetoric to continue to pigeon hold public opinion nor our legislators. We must not be idle as by standers, letting the miscasting of facts and nitch perceptions to be the loudest voice. We must define that role of service of the professional and not watch it be defined from within their own interest and peers. Our voices and our clout needs to remind the Academic Professional community not only here in Florida but also abroad, that they work for us as a service to, We the People.