Artifact Hunting

When you are interested in doomsday prophesies, you naturally delve into ancient civilizations and their practices. This is particularly true of the Mayans who had predicted that the world would end in 2012. Mercifully, it didn’t, nor did I expect it to happen. I like knowing how prevalent were such concerns and I want to know about the cultures that produced them. One way is to do a little archeologically digging to uncover artifacts that have a story to tell. Given the difficulty of this enterprise, I would go with an experienced group rather than on my own. I would enjoy working on an existing dig where items and relics have already been found. However, finding something for the first time has to be more than thrilling.

How do these scientists find gold artifacts or jewelry for example? I have read that it relies a lot on a conventional metal detector as a principle research device. Some are more complicated than others. As a result, I am tempted to join a program that trains people on how to use metal detectors. There are “schools” one can attend to learn the ropes and to teach you about the things you should take with you, a little bit like this – They provide you with the gadget and teach you how to set and operate it when in the field. You can either go with them on a dig or find one on your own in your choice of location where they are likely to have a good concentration of artifacts. You have heard of queen for a day; now there is archeologist for a week.

While the metal detector is sanctioned by the profession, an archeologist must consider local law. Sometimes a permit is required. It can be unlawful to disturb a site. Most likely this would apply to outsiders who want to take their chances on a find and go when the dig is unoccupied. This is the best way to protect the research and keep it private so the materials found would go to the right place, such as a local museum. It is a serious matter of ethics. There is an unspoken code of conduct among members of this respected group because of their concern for the final resting place of their finds. This is especially true if human remains are found. They must be processed and dated appropriately. What happened to the Elgin Marbles should never occur again.

Another related ethical issue has to do with fraud. In Mexico, it has been reported that faux Mayan artifacts have been sold at unreasonable prices to ignorant tourists. It shows how much these ancient relics are in demand. It doesn’t have to be something made of gold. Statues and figurines qualify. It is another story to detect what is fake and what is authentic. A different kind of expertise is required. It takes years to become an educated expert. Many major museums have been duped. Fortunately advanced carbon dating techniques have been developed. It has nipped a lot of the fakery in the bud.