Written by the TreasureGuide for the exclusive use of treasurebeachesreport.blogspot.com.
Thanks to the informed readers of this blog, I'm able to present authoritative research and informed opinions on many subjects. Not too long ago I mentioned the proposed citizen archaeology permit that is being considered by the Florida legislature. I was not ready to present my opinions but wanted you to know about the proposed legislation so you could act as you thought appropriate. I am still gathering information myself and recently received some good information from a few readers. I'll start presenting some of what I received a day or two ago from Leroy G, who sent me a number of documents.
Leroy said, While this is the first time I have communicated, I am an avid reader of your blog of long standing. I would like to contribute to the discussion of the proposed Florida legislation. Enclosed is information sent out by the Southwest Florida Archaeological Society of which I am a former member. Please let me know if you do not get the attached pdf files, as they state the case against this legislation. Arguments in favor of the legislation can be found by gong to the Tri-States Archaeological Society web page. Another proponent of the legislation, The Sunshine State Archaeological Society of Florida, may be a shadow organization set up to promote this legislation, as an internet search fails to find a home page for this organization, although it is listed as an affiliated member of Tri-States.
I myself have been metal detecting for over 40 years, am a scuba diver, and have participated with both professional and amateur archaeologists on land and underwater sites. I consider the present antagonism between amateur collector and professional archaeologists both unfortunate and unnecessary. While residing in South Carolina I held a Hobby License and that program works well. The great success in England of amateur metal detectorists collaborating with professionals is a perfect example of how legislation can be crafted to benefit both. By law, new discoveries by amateurs must be reported, with the government having first crack at purchasing rare items for museum collections at fair market value. Prohibiting collecting only makes lawbreakers out of otherwise law abiding citizens, oft times unintentionally. This is a very complicated issue and I hope this contributes to the conversation.
Thanks much Leroy.
I'll present a copy of one of the documents I received from Leroy below. It is a letter from the President of the Florida Anthropological Society.
I find the views expressed in that letter to be very reasonable although I will add a few bits from another perspective.
One of the objections to the permit seems to be the requirement for the state to provide information on areas to be avoided. Archaeologists claim to be saving history for the public, but evidently do not trust the public or feel that the public. There are some in any group who are not trustworthy. There are some who would loot, but there are also some in the professional communities who abuse their privileges. I won't go into that now, but everybody should not be penalized for the abuses of a few. The professional community needs to have more respect for the public that largely funds their work.
Distrust is the cause of the problem. Information and understanding is the cure.
Those who break the law prefer secrecy. A better informed and involved public will protect their heritage. Most law breakers prefer secrecy. The public, with eyes everywhere, will help police sensitive sites.
I am certainly not in favor of looting, and the people I know, and I know a lot of people that are interested in history, archaeology and metal detecting, as well as grandmas who have picked up an arrowhead knowingly or unknowingly while collecting sea shells, will do the right thing. They would also more gladly support archaeology if they felt like a part of the process instead of being treated like a suspect.
The use of the term "private gain" always gets me. How can people who make a good career out of a discipline pretend they are not personally gaining from the activity?
People who sell archaeological items are always villainized. Museums both purchase items and sell items they no longer want.
It is always said that the Isolated Finds Program failed. What criteria was used? What percent of the public ever heard of it? Go out and ask a thousand people and see if you find one or two people who knows what it was, never mind understanding it. By what criteria did it fail?
Yes there have been abuses and will be abuses, but do not penalize the public and as a result the academic community. I am sure that better solutions, such as those mentioned by Leroy can be implemented. Fear of the public does not serve the public, and it does not promote archaeology.
I didn't mean to write so much. I am not so much against the views that are expressed in the above letter as it might seem. I just wanted to present the other perspective. Archaeology and the public needs to learn to work together without fear and suspicion.
Thanks again Leroy!
Here is a web site provided by The Florida Public Archaeology Network. It has the title Frequently Asked Questions about Collecting from State Lands. Take a look.
I could provide comments to their answers too, but I won't right now. It is good to know both sides of an issue.
We had a west winds and a smooth surf for a couple of days. The wind will turn to a north wind Saturday afternoon and the surf will start to increase a little.
We're having some nice negative tides.