Wednesday, March 11, 2015

3/11/5 Report - Defining "Archaeological Object." Mammoth Skull Caught By Fisherman. Scimitar Tie Clasp?

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Fisherman With Woolly Mammoth Skull
Source: See link below.

The most read posts of January were the 1/2/15 and 1/3/15 reports on beach renourishment sand and items found in renourishment sand.

The most Google Plused post of January was the 1/21/15 Report - Wreck of the Giffen.  Low Profile Metal Detecting.  Image and Shovels and Holes.


A fisherman pulled in what he thinks is a Woolly Mammoth skull.   Here is the link for the rest of that story.

Just what is an archaeological object?  It would seem that some archaeologists think that almost anything and everything is, even items that are only a few decades old.  In Florida it against the law to recover anything in state waters more than 50 years old.  If I drown you'll just have to leave me there until you call the state archaeologist. 

As you know there are a lot of people that collect and trade ancient coins.   I've said before that many items, even those thousands of years old, have no archaeological or historical value.  Just because an item might be old doesn't mean that it is rare or that it tells us anything we don't already well know.

I remember when Richard Hulbert of the Florida State Museum was at a conference in Vero and people brought in their fossil finds to be identified.  He looked at hundreds.  There was only one in the entire bunch that he had any interest in obtaining for the museum.   The vast majority were nothing new, surprising or note worthy. 

Add to that the fact that items found on a beach are out of context.  Archaeologists, such as Kathleen Deagan, also of the state museum, will tell you what I've read many times - that artifacts out of context have no archaeological value. 

That is just some background that I wanted to give.  German courts recently issued the following ruling.

“The Plaintiff rightly asserts that coins coming from Antiquity generally have no archeological value and thus are not archaeological objects, especially when they are available in large numbers and they—which the Badische Landesmuseum [State Museum] also mentions in its opinion referred to by the Main Customs Office in the hearing—can no longer be assigned to a specific place of discovery.”

The paragraph above and the following paragraphs are from an article from the following link.

In essence, the court ruled that each case must be evaluated by Customs on its own merits, not on a general assertion that coins are, as a class, subject to export permit controls.  This evaluation should take into account “whether the same or similar objects are largely the object of trade in which archaeological institutions and collections are not involved, but rather collectors are involved who are not interested in such coins as an ‘archaeological’ interest but as a desire to collect and acquire said objects for aesthetic value or for other interests.”

The ACCG test case is at the opposite end of this issue, but the arguments are similar.  The ACCG argues that coins cannot be judged illicit simply because they lack provenance.  It is the responsibility of the Customs Agency to determine whether the specific objects being imported are illicit and that determination must be based on facts, not suppositions.  It is anticipated that the ACCG case, which has been referred for forfeiture action and will be contested when that action is served, will bring these issues to bear in a court that cannot deny jurisdiction.

Finally, it should be said that many critics of the ACCG, private collectors and the numismatic trade have the mistaken belief that the “hobby” (more of an avocation for most) is opposed to import controls because collectors want access to “black market” coins.  That is an unfortunate characterization that is entirely false, but it does resonate with some mindsets.  The ACCG has consistently, since its inception nine years ago, asked all members, dealers and government officials to follow the applicable laws wherever they live or visit.  The point of the ACCG test case is to create case law that will spell out exactly what was intended by Congress in the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act.

The link for the entire article is above.

 Bill P. said this mystery item that I showed a few days ago could be a tie clasp.  I think he could be right about that.  That thought never crossed my mind.  Maybe the chain is missing.


On the Treasure Coast we still have the small surf, something like three feet, and southerly winds.

Happy hunting,