Sunday, March 4, 2012

The televised looting of archaeological treasures

Spike TV’s announcement of a new series called “American Digger” to debut on March 21st has prompted a storm of outrage from the U.S. archaeological community.
Spike 3Archaeologists contend that the  program,  which “follows the American Savage team, led by former professional wrestler-turned-modern-day relic hunter Ric Savage as they scour target-rich areas, such as battlefields and historic sites, in hopes of striking it rich by unearthing and selling rare pieces of American history,” advocates the unethical, possibly illegal, plundering of potential archaeological sites for profit.  In a letter to Spike TV head Kevin Kay, Archaeological Institute of America president Elizabeth Bartman argues that “American Digger” promotes “looting and the destruction of our shared archaeological heritage.”
The AIA issued similar  correspondence to the National Geographic Society regarding National Geographic TV’s new show titled “Diggers,” that, like “American Digger,” seems to glorify treasure hunting at the expense of archaeology. In both letters, the AIA requested the shows include a disclaimer “that informs viewers of the possible illegality of any digging they undertake, even on their own private property, and the need to contact local authorities about any discoveries.” Let’s hope that pressure from the AIA, along with petitions issued by, are enough to encourage the cancellation of these televised assaults on American archaeological and cultural heritage.
Originally posted by Joshua Mix on

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