ATH 242-01

Threats to the Archaeological Record

  1. Uncontrolled development (THIS IS TOP THREAT)
  2. Looting
    1. the removal of archaeological resources, legally or illegally, without scientific documentation
  3. The intentional destruction of heritage through subjugation or warfare

Antiquities Act of 1906

  • authorizes POTUS to establish nat’l monuments
  • prohibits looting & vandalism of sites
  • requires a permit to excavate on public lands
  • under this act it was permissible to excavate human remains, which were classified as federal property

Nat’l Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA)

  • establishes the maintenance and expansion of a Nat’l Register of Historic Places
  • established State Historic Preservation Officers (SHPO, federal agency)
  • section 106 embodies the rules by which cultural resources are treated
    • applies when federal land, money used
    • basis of CRM industry

Nat’l Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA)

  • requires federal oversight of undertakings
  • consider all environmental impacts
  • impacts must be considered on all aspects of the environment
    • includes sociocultural concerns

Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 (ARPA)

  • protects archaeological resources on federal land and Indian lands from individual and commercial interests
  • fosters professional gathering of information
  • human remains subject to excavation at discretion of federal land manager

Private property

  • should the US Govt own all archaeological objects and sites in the US?
    • 20% strongly agree
    • 58% disagree
  • How does our view of our rights as US citizens have an impact upoln the protection of archaeological resources

Slack Farm: one of most famous looted Ohio sites (1987)

  • $10,000
  • 10 looters
  • 1 bulldozer
  • 450 pothols
  • disturbed more than 650 burials
  • $500 fine

Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (NAGPRA)

  • covers items held in museum collections as well as those recovered in current excavations
  • governs treatment of Native American:
    • human remains
    • funerary objects
    • sacred objects
    • objects of cultural patrimony
  • addresses the rights of current-day native people to repatriate certain archaeological human remains & religious objects
  • permitted when a federally-recognized group demonstrates descent or affiliation
  • applies to institutions receiving federal money

Kennewick Man (1996-present)

  • found 1996 in WA
  • recovered along Columbia River, on federal property
  • US Army Corps of Engineers managed the property
  • scientist who removed the remains did so under ARPA regs
  • Kennewick Man radiocarbon dated to 8340-9200 years old
  • Army Corps of Engineers handled situation by:
    • seizing the remains from scientists
    • publishing a Notice of Intent to Repatriate
    • turning over the remains to the Umatilla, Yakima, Nez Perce of ID, Colville and Wanapam (not federally recognized)
    • Destroying the site of discovery by dumping gravel and sand along the river
  • scientists sued to request permission to study the remains
  • one of the oldest human skeletons in North America; 90% complete
  • appears to be completely different from Native American skeletal remains
  • testing could provide information about the origins of humans in the Americas
  • suit heard by US Magistrate Judge John Jelderks in 2002
  • desicion indicated that:
    • tribes cannot claim Kennewick Man due to his age
    • tribes cannot claim Kennewick Man because the remains were not found on tribal property
    • cultural affiliation must be to a single modern tribe, not a coalition of tribes
    • remains should be placed in a long-term curational facility, where they will be made available for study

Why is Kennewick Man important?

  • the legal case surrounding his discovery has set precedents regarding human remains
  • there are very few remains that date to this period
  • each additional skeleton adds significantly to what we know
  • throws into question how the Americas were populated
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