Sunday, August 16, 2015

8/16/15 Report - Why An Artifact Is More Than An Artifact.

Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of

Did you ever wonder what it is about treasure hunting that makes it so fascinating?  Even people that have never done it find it interesting.  It is the subject of books and movies, and young children play games and seek pirate treasures.

 I find myself wondering why I like to watch Diggers and those goof-ball guys digging up mostly rusty junk.  It isn't really any great drama, yet I enjoy watching it.

First off there is the element of discovery and surprise.  Those are basic.  The youngest child gets excited playing peek-a-boo and shows joy when things appear.  Some of my earliest memories involve going out to see if the chickens laid any eggs to gather.  The same thing for wild strawberries and other fruit.

There is very little that could have more survival value.  Maybe it is a part of our DNA.

I found an interesting article on the CRUX web site.  I feel like just pasting the entire article, but that wouldn't be right, and also I want to add my own comments.

The article starts off saying, The exhibit "Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology" at the National Geographic Museum until Jan. 3, features 100 carefully crafted film props alongside real archaeological finds.

There’s the golden Ark of the Covenant from "Raiders of the Lost Ark" — the model for the container that housed the Ten Commandments, complete with two winged cherubs as described in the Old Testament.

There’s the cup representing the Holy Grail from "Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade."

I didn't know where the National Geographic Museum is, so I looked it up.  It is at 1145 17th Street, NW (17th and M) Washington, DC 20036. 202–857-7700.  It is amazing how hard it can be to find such basic information on otherwise really good web sites.

Sounds like a great place to visit if you are ever in the area.

The article goes on to mention that archaeology students love the Indiana Jones movies.  The curator of the Indiana Jones exhibit said he thought that was because they make people think about the past, about God and the afterlife.

I never liked the Indiana Jones movies myself and don't really know why I don't like them other than perhaps they are too unrealistic.   Maybe I prefer my treasure hunting to be real.  

The Diggers aren't very dramatic, but they are more realistic.  The only thing that puts me off is the antics of the two fellows.  I'd like the program better without all of that..

But is the appeal of the Indiana Jones movies actually that they make you think about the past, God and the afterlife? 

The CRUX article says, “It’s not simply archaeology but the archaeology of the sacred, the idea that once upon a time humans had this immediate capacity to connect with something sacred,” said Manseau, who writes about Jones’ connection to sacred objects in an upcoming issue of the magazine CrossCurrents.  

According to Webster sacred means worthy of religious worship : very holy. : relating to religion. : highly valued and important : deserving great respect.

Before I go any further, I want to say I think Manseau is partly correct.  I want to strongly disagree with one thing though - humans still have the capacity to connect with the sacred - at least some of them.  It is not a "once upon a time" thing for many people.  It is a daily thing.

The article goes on to say, Sacred artifacts also excite people because they lend legitimacy to religious stories, Manseau noted. As much as religion is a matter of faith, he said, these archaeological adventures are at some level quests for proof because sacred artifacts make religion “physical in a way that’s hard to ignore.”

I'll agree with part of that.  Artifacts help people touch the past.  The treasure hunting community acknowledges that.

Besides the elements of adventure, discovery and surprise, it puts us in touch with something beyond ourselves - something bigger than ourselves.

There is also the success and failure thing.  We are rewarded by our efforts, and we enjoy the exercise and we enjoy nature in the process.

If you think about it, many of the things we seek and have an obvious connection with the sacred.  Sometimes it is symbolic.

Almost every cob has a cross on it.  Did you ever think about that?  And U. S. coins proclaim "In God We Trust."  That is so common and obvious that we tend to ignore it.

The "Ark of the Covenant," and the "Holy Grail" are the ultimate artifacts.  They were sought by the Crusaders and Knights Templar.  They are a part of our cultural roots that extend back thousands of years.  They are part of religion, history, and I think they are part of our psyche in a deeper way than we consciously acknowledge.

If you like old, they are old.  They are more than artifacts, they are archetypes.

It is not accidental or insignificant that almost every cob displays a cross.  Nor is it an accident that our coins say "In God We Trust," no matter if you like it or not.

Then there are the crucifixes, medallions and even wedding bands with a sacred or religious connection.

Even the precious metals and gem stones have been used in symbolically.  Gold has long been a symbol for deity because of its timeless untarnishing lustre.  It is no accident that it is used to create sacred artifacts.

Artifacts can touch as deeply.  They defy time.  They can span generations.

As we dig up a find and wipe away the dirt to see what was underneath, the artifacts sing the words of the old hymn Amazing Grace, I once was lost but now am found,

It is often said that Royals were made as presentation pieces for the King.  Frank Sedwick wrote a detailed paper about Royals, and says they were not likely for that purpose.  In fact they may have actually had a church connection like the uniquely shaped heart and animal votive cobs.

I've posted Laura Strolias research on some of the amazing artifacts found on the Treasure Coast including the Pelican of Piety and a gold reliquary pendant.  

In my 11/4/12 post Laura's article said,  Using the visual art of a pelican in piety, whether it was a painting or a sculpture, greatly aided the devout when contemplating the image of Christ on the Cross and his presence in the Eucharist.

In my 8/31/14 post Laura said this about the reliquary pendant.  The Reliquary Pendant found at Douglass Beach is also called a triptych, a term meaning that a work of art is made up of three hinged panels that can be opened for display, or folded shut when desired.  The circular opening on the 1715 reliquary would have held a holy remain behind a piece of rock crystal.  A fabric-covered paste board would have been stitched to the back of it.

It is intriguing to wonder about the final destination of this 1715 reliquary if the hurricane never happened.  Perhaps it was meant to hang in a private chapel of a wealthy household, or near the bedside of a clergy member?  We will never know the answer. But in this modern day of age, we are so fortunate to be able to view an artifact, such as this one, that holds such beauty and significance. 
What I am saying today is that treasure hunting is more than it seems.  It is deeper, more basic and instinctual than we may realize.  And finds are more than objects.  They provide a bridge - not only to a time and place and person in history, but to something deeper in each and every one of us.

Here is the link to the article in CRUX.


I think I should end there today.

Happy hunting,