This scenario is one of the many reasons why archaeologists have to play a role in public education and outreach! The following conversation occurred while presenting on the wonderful world of archaeology at an elementary school. And no, I never personally keep the artifacts I record, I would never sell artifacts, and I’ve never found gold items.
Kid 1: can you sell the artifacts you find?
Me: no, that is illegal if you take it off of NPS, BLM, or FS lands.
Kid 2: what if its from a different country?
Me: still illegal, just international laws apply. You can’t keep or sell anything. It’s just a bad idea.
Teacher: how much is a statue from your site in Cyprus worth? $4000? how much would a collector pay?
Me: I have no idea . . .because its illegal.
Kid 3: what if its bones on your own land? Can you keep that?
Me: No, state laws don’t allow that. It’s illegal. And unethical.
Kid 4: so, you can’t just keep any of the artifacts, keep them hidden inside, and sell them later?
Kid 3: but what if . . .
Me: no. Okay, everyone, can you keep or sell artifacts?
Class: because its illegal.
Want to know more about why it’s illegal to remove artifacts from public lands? Read my blog post on ARPA!