pre-paleo/clovis artifacts

topic posted Sun, November 11, 2007 - 4:46 PM by  po
i'm new to this tribe. i'm an amateur artifact hunter. i am digesting as many books as i can regarding the pre-historic ice age peoples of pennsylvania, unfortunately i haven't found that many, and those that i did find are 2002 at the latest. do any of you know any recent books on this subject? it wouldn't necessarily have to be about PA, but that would be a bonus.
posted by:
offline po
  • Amateur artifact hunter? You mean you search for artifacts to add to a personal collection?
    • po
      offline 2
      yes, that's correct.
      • please remember that is a felony.
        • po
          offline 2
          my pieces are lawfully taken from land that i have permission to take them from. i do not, and would not take pieces from grave sites, or any land that was it was illegal to take pieces from, but thanks for keeping me in line. :) do you know anything about radiocarbon dating?
          • From a purist's perspective, it doesn't matter whether its legal to take the artifacts from a particular piece of land. Every artifact you curate in your private collection is necessarily lost to the public at large, which biases the archaeological record and limits our (yes, I am a professional archaeologist) ability to better understand the big picture. Prepaleo/ Clovis items are rare and keeping them for yourself makes all the professional archaeologists cry.

            Unless you are a Native American (and you may be), Prepaleo/ Clovis items do not belong to you. Your collection of such things is essentially coopting the heritage of a group that's already suffered enough.

            As to radiocarbon dating, the technique dates the time elapsed since something died. Stone tools cannot be radiocarbon dated. You can date material associated with stone tools, but do so, you have to recover the tools from a controlled stratigraphic excavation. Here in OR, you cannot conduct a controlled excavation without a permit, EVEN on private land. To get a permit, you have to have professional credentials.

            I would urge you to join an amateur archaeological group in your area. Here in OR, we have the Oregon Archaeological Society for example, which is affiliated with local schools. This is a much better way to participate in archaeology than maintaining a private collection.
            • po
              offline 2
              gee, the last thing i want to do is make you cry. having looked at your profile and seeing that why you're on tribes is for "pirate booty", it makes me think you just really want to see what's in my stash. :) in this land that i come from, everyone i know has their own private collection. this is a rich indian area. there is so much that it's just getting destroyed by tractors. there is so much that humans will never get to see at all. if i give away my site, a large group would just come in and destroy my peace, and this land. if i live in my spirit, as i always have, my belief is that these pieces come to me for a reason. a great number of the original found artifacts in this region, dating back to 1911, came from private collections. maybe some day i will share what i have, but for now, i guess you're just going to have to grab that hankie. sorry.......

              thanks for the info on carbon dating.
              • I had hoped to appeal to your larger sensibilities, here, but you've made up your mind, obviously.

                If you ever change your mind, pm me and maybe we can figure out a way to protect what you think is yours and still share what you have with the community at large.
                • po
                  offline 2
                  i woke up in the middle of the night realizing what i said really didn't make sense. what i meant was, that back in the early 1900's when articles and books where first showing pieces, and putting time lines on them, most of the "samples" they used for this, came from large private collections. i'm sure you have your own private collection of some kind.
                  thank you for your offer to help me. i will keep that in mind, for that really is my goal down the road. till then....may the spirits be with you.
                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.
                    >i'm sure you have your own private collection of some kind

                    No, I absolutely do not have a collection of any kind. That violates my professional ethics.

                    Good luck with your material.
                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.
                    Po, archaeology has changed A LOT since the 1900's in terms of archaeology and collecting artifacts for the sake of collecting them. In those days, the artifact was the the most important thing in archaeology. Today, we have a larger view of how to uncover the past. What's more important to archeology today is not the artifact alone per se, but the context, that is where something found, and what it's relationship to it's environment. We look at the surrounding features for any other clues of activity, we look at the soils to see what the environment was like, we look for other "less interesting" artifacts to help determine what that artifact was doing there, and why is wound up where it did. Because we look try to look at a site from more a holistic point of view, rather than looking at one component and also out of respect for the cultural heritage of others (I would go into the cultural heritage and patrimony , but I have little time), archaeologists do not collect artifacts for their own private collections.

                    Po, I'd really suggest that you look into the history of archaeology. There's a lot you could learn that would help your studies.
                    • po
                      offline 2
                      i'm well aware of looking at the big picture. my initial question was about finding more information. i've read quite a few books so far on this subject. right now i'm on "Prehistoric Cultures of Eastern Pennsylvania" by Jay Custer. then i'm on to "The First American's" by J.M. Adovasio with Jake Page, then on to "Honoring the Medicine" by Kenneth Cohen. i'm not just looking at pieces. i'm looking at their life, their beliefs, and what it took to survive. also the rather quick climate changes, and how it compares with global warming. (i'm not saying that doesn't exist). there is a huge picture to view regarding the ice age and it's disappearance. i also believe it's up to us to preserve what we can from that time, and to remember that it is possible to live a rather simple life compared to what we have now. yes, it gives me an incredible rush to find something that i'm pretty sure is about 10,000 yrs old. it fills my heart with huge humbleness to touch something that was made by the hand of my (and your) ancestors. they are our family. do you not have that piece that has been handed down from your grandparents? it warms your heart to know that you have a lineage so fine. we are all connected, each and every one of us. it is our constant thought that we are not, that blinds us.
                      so to put things in perspective, know that i don't take this endeavor lightly. i also don't think i need to have a degree to validate my knowledge on this subject, as well as have a piece of paper to prove my love for someone. that is the white man's way.
                      thank you all for your guidance. may the spirits be with you as well.
        • Unsu...
          "please remember that is a felony"

          Not always true, it is illegal on federal land (BLM,national forest and park land) and alot of state lands, but some states allow artifact gathering on private land.
          • <<Not always true, it is illegal on federal land (BLM,national forest and park land) and alot of state lands, but some states allow artifact gathering on private land.>>>

            good point (no pun intended), at least when it come to some cases of private land. I'm not really up with cultural preservation regs, but I'm of the mind that leaving things sit where they lie preserves things for later study, and helps find sites that may lay in the ground.

            Anybody who knows care to on the relevant laws?


              here are some sites with either laws stated directly, or links to laws.

              i'm glad this topic came up. i havent reviewed these myself since my freshman year. i'm gona read through a bunch of these and then get back to comment more.
              • po
                offline 2
                • It seems the The Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission strike a pragmatic middle path on this, providing avocational archaeologists with tips and other information to help them document and maintain their private collections:

                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.
                    Those look like great organizations!

                    Po, if you have an artifact you think is 10,000 years old, these organizations could probably help you establish whether it really is. I certainly respect that you want to know more about ancient Native Americans, but the big picture necessarily entails seeing where your material fits in the context of the larger mid-Atlantic archaeological record, beyond whatever piece of land you have access to. You might think working with one of these organizations as a collaboration. You have something to share and archaeologists in your area can help you establish what you think might be the case. It sounds like these groups in Penn are particularly sensitive to the fact that folks in the region have private collections.

                    • Po...I teach my 8th graders about context. Removing an artifact is destroying its place in time. For someone who is so connected to the earth
                      you can understand disconnection with one's past. A collection may indeed give you the sense of connecting with another past human but that human has now lost his/her connection with their past. A great loss for us all. Lost in time. Turn the passion you have to ethical preservation of the past and the soul that yearns to speak.
                      • Welcome to Tribe, Jeff.

                        Perhaps the reason the State of Pennsylvania and other professional organizations offer support for those who have private collections is in consideration of still another context: the modern world we live in, in which artifacts are more likely to be found by drunken louts on ATVs than by earnest avocational archaeologists, and more likely to wind up in some crappy resin belt buckle than cherished, documented, and protected by the earnest avocational.

                        Sure, in an ideal world no one would ever touch anything without first contacting a "professional", and there would be sufficient funding for an army of such professionals to be standing by, eager, willing, and able to respond to calls coming into their toll-free number to a plush and outrageously well equipped National Archaeology Call Center so they could fly out by helicopter to fence off an area, file the necessary permits to do so, and document everything according to current best practices. And of course their best practices would be truly best, not the ones we see in our world which change from decade to decade. In that ideal world this would be paid for easily because mankind would have a surplus of funds worldwide from the end of all warfare. And people would remember to turn off the lights when they leave a room. :)

                        But in the here and now, we live in a world of limitations. One of those limitations is that there are simply more people out there willing to do earnest work than there are "professionals" already doing it.

                        Since you joined only today and this is your first post on Tribe, perhaps you missed some of the earlier posts in this thread. I just reviewed Po's posts and I couldn't find one in which she said she was unaware of or unconcerned about context. After all, don't even the "professionals" remove items from sites to carbon-date them? Are museums empty of all artifacts?

                        Before I pass judgment on another, I would first want to learn about who they are and what they're doing. The State of Pennsylvania is apparently quite at home with the reality of avocational archaeology, and I'm sure each of us have seen enough sloppy work from "professionals" to know that such a line in the sand isn't always a useful division for restricting participation.

                        PS: Just curious: Why the Five Burroughs backdrop for a profile about a man in Utah?
                        • >number to a plush and outrageously well equipped National Archaeology Call Center so they could fly out by helicopter to fence off an area, file the necessary permits to do so, and document everything according to current best practices. And of course their best practices would be truly best, not the ones we see in our world which change from decade to decade. In that ideal world this would be paid for easily because mankind would have a surplus of funds worldwide from the end of all warfare. And people would remember to turn off the lights when they leave a room. :)

                          Shoot, a girl can dream, eh? Don't forget unlimited amounts of write in rain paper and notebooks. Or waterproof laptops. Or better yet perfect weather every day.

                          >After all, don't even the "professionals" remove items from sites to carbon-date them? Are museums empty of all artifacts?

                          For the record, we don't radiocarbon date artifacts unless they are made of bone, wood or some other organic medium. And since c14 is destructive, often organic artifacts are not sent for dating if suitable, non-cultural organic material is available in the same context. Generally, we date carbon material in association with artifacts, if we can assume they are part of the same depositional event. This is why context is important. We don't collect anything unless context has been established and documented, the artifact or carbon sample in question is placed in a container labeled with context information.

                          Every professional project sets collections guidelines before starting. Sometimes the artifacts are collected, sometimes they aren't, it really depends on the situation. Curation of artifacts is expensive. I don't know what the ideal solution is, but Jeff may be onto something raising a new generation of people who see the record as more than a collection of curiosities to "wind up in some crappy resin belt buckle" (heh! good one, Richard).

                          If Po wants to establish her artifact(s) is/are 10,000 years old, she needs to tie them to a geologic setting from that time, or find an artifact that has been heated (to apply thermoluminescence dating, a whole different topic).

                      • Po im with you on this one. Each and every piece i have in my collection i have been personally guided to by my former brothers in this former great nation.Anyone that supports the shamefull acts of the united states government or its counterparts are the true dogmen. The real satans on this earth! For they are the reason we dont know our true history. Are passion runs deeper then their red greedy blood ever can.while they read and write books on whats here, we give them what to write about. Setting in class rooms and behind desks saying thats a felony.Our government should be tried for what the've done to destroy the true legacy of our people.So called Archaeologist should be ashamed of themselves for what they hide. People have been in America for seven hundred thousand years or more I have soultrean points in my collection from southern north america. How did they get here from France, A land slide maybe an earth quake oh i know a slave brought it on his tour of the early u.s. hahaha archaeologist keep on sniveling atleast till your ready to earn yor pay check.
                        • I have been on tribe for a number of years. one of the things i love about this site is the plurality of people that populate it. (sorry for the alliteration).

                          First, i think that it's important to note a little about myself. I am a korean american adoptee, meaning i was adopted from korea and raised in the u.s. (by a white family). I certainly have a relationship with complex cultural nuances. korea has had a very tumultuous history with its neighbors - for centuries there have been occupations and invasions and outright enslavement of the people.
                          as a non-white american, i am well aware of the - as bell hooks has phrased 'the white supremacist, colonialist, capitalist, heterosexual patriarchy - that i would argue is at play in our culture.

                          also having explored ethnic studies quite extensively, i am well aware of the sensitive diplomacy needed when exploring the very layered histories of a cultures' heritage in relationship to other institutions of thought - like science or politics or the arts.
                          Also, I am not a scientist, although i am enthralled as a lay person.

                          that being said, i do think it is a fundamental misunderstanding of the realities of the scientific structure that would lead one to the conclusion that science is the result of white oppression.

                          i believe that science - as an institution strives to be 'culturally free.'
                          meaning, that while acknowledging the cultural limitations (preconceptions, psychology, history) of the individuals who carry out the research; the institution - really does attempt to be a body of knowledge that is human rather than american, or western (although one would have to admit that it's structure, as currently expressed, is born in western european culture).

                          science, is for everyone. the work that is conducted is done by craftspersons, people with the tools to study - explore.
                          do i think that the ability to do so is predicated by a degree? i do not. however, an ability is necessary, in whatever manner it is gained.

                          for the rest of us, science is able to present us with a version of reality.

                          i think that when we politicize science we put ourselves at a disservice. when i hear people make cultural claims against science, i feel that there is a miscommunication at play, more than an ideological difference. science, from my limited understanding is not a threat unless one feels that this kind of knowledge is a threat.

                          when studying ethnic studies, one of the major areas of study is the native american history since european contact. i do not personally know anyone - ANYONE that would argue that the systematic exterminations, persecutions, relocations, and oppression against the native populations was in any way justified.
                          one of the hardest thing to do is seek forgiveness. the bitterness that can eat away at ones' soul is ultimately just as destructive as the larger injustices. but i think it's important to recognize that nothing is absolute, immutable. we do not live in a static world and in fact stasis can be deadly. history, science, culture they're all ever evolving institutions of thought. if we use them as tools rather than belief systems we are better able to listen, really listen to one another's stories. and isn't that what all these thought processes are? ways of telling our experiential stories, as individuals, as communities, as species; from the minutia to the macro reality.

                          just wanted to add my thoughts to this very interesting and relevant conversation
                          • Hi
                            The more we find out the less we really know. The little we know is there were at lest 4 different groups/times people came to this country. DNA shows some of them aren't closely related to each other. This country's soil don't help human remains survive for very long, damp and acidic and there gone in a few 1000 years.
                            Yours Ken

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