NEXT MEETING: Wednesday, December 20, 2023, at 6:00PM: it's the GCAS annual holiday get-together at 2045 Memory Lane in Silver City! Our holiday custom is to have a potluck with a virtually nonexistent business meeting and no official program, followed by a white-elephant gift exchange and general holiday good times. Dress festively and bring your best holiday dish to share! (In order to offer our members a safe and comfortable experience the GCAS follows CDC and New Mexico Department of Health guidelines for indoor gatherings including masking, distancing, and vaccinations. We recommend all attendees follow the same.

NEXT FIELD TRIP: Sunday, December 3, 2023: our next field trip - GCAS members only - investigates the C-Bar Ranch area off of Highway 90. Meet at the car park just off of Hwy 90 in Tyrone in front of the US Post Office BEFORE 10:00 AM (this jumping-off spot is about 15-20 minutes’ drive from downtown Silver City but be mindful of possible delays due to Hwy 90 construction in downtown Silver City). The group will LEAVE FROM the Tyrone parking area at 10:00 AM sharp. Destinations: a shelter cave and beyond to a pictograph location. Leader Kyle Meredith explains that: “most vehicles should be able to drive to the site, although C-Bar Road is rough in spots. We encourage carpooling from the parking area in Tyrone to the site! From where our group will park on C-Bar Road it is a short walk to the shelter cave where we will see bedrock mortars and smoky ceilings. The hike to the pictographs is about one mile over some rough terrain and some easy trails. To see the pictographs it is necessary to do a little scrambling over rocks and boulders. Perhaps it’s not the season for rattlesnakes, but be aware that I have seen one on two different occasions.”

Perks for GCAS Members
Repost: Help Us Move Forward

Preservation Alert! Rock & Gem Magazine Publishes Tips for Collecting Artifacts

On November 3, 2023, one of our GCAS members alerted me to a disturbing article that has appeared at least twice in Rock & Gem magazine - most recently on October 30, 2023. The TL;dr is that the article encourages people to loot artifacts on public lands.

The GCAS was impelled to respond:

TO:       Rock & Gem

RE:       9 Tips for Finding Artifacts, by Anita B. Stone, republished 10/30/2023

November 3, 2023

Dear Editors/Administrators:

I was surprised and dismayed to read an article that Anita B. Stone wrote, titled 9 Tips for Finding Artifacts, which Rock & Gem Magazine republished online on October 30, 2023. Ms. Stone’s advice directly opposes the mission of avocational archaeological groups like mine, the Grant County Archaeological Society. We work to preserve and protect archaeological sites and the cultural materials they contain. It has been my group’s experience during the past 95 years of our existence that “tips” such as Ms. Stone’s encourage illegal looting of archaeological sites on public lands. Rock & Gem Magazine’s republication of Ms. Stone’s article serves to promote such looting.

Ms. Stone advises her readers how and where to collect archaeological artifacts including “tools”, “fire starters”, “knives”, “axes”, “pestles”, “hammerstones”, “[h]oes, hatchets, awls, drills, scrapers, and spear points as well as small projectiles” and more. She writes that such items “…are often the only evidence remaining of the existence of ancient, complex and highly-functioning cultures that once thrived in North America.” She is correct. That is why those artifacts should remain in place: to preserve the archaeological and cultural record that belongs to us all. Archaeological sites are nonrenewable resources: once a collector removes an artifact from its original location and appropriates it for their personal amusement like Ms. Stone encourages, all scientific and cultural context is irretrievably lost.

Ms. Stone states in her “Tip 6” that “Federal law states that you can retrieve any artifact that is lying on the ground’s surface.” Her statement is incorrect and misleading. Federal law states that without a specific, narrowly-drawn permit, it is illegal to collect ANY artifacts on public land. (1979 Archaeological Resources Protection Act, Title 16 USC 470 EE and 36 CFR 261.9.)

Except in very limited circumstances, harvesting the kinds of artifacts that Ms. Stone describes in her article has been illegal on federal, state, and municipal lands since 1906 when President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act into law. Archaeological artifacts on public lands gained further protection in 1966 when the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) was enacted; and again in 1979 with the enactment of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA, Title 16 USC 470 EE and 36 CFR 261.9). There are serious consequences for violating these laws, ranging from fines and/or jail time to confiscation of the equipment the looter used in the violation (anything from shovels and metal detectors to vehicles). (

As one example among many, the Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky has published an easy-to-read one-page flyer on this issue. Perhaps Rock & Gem can apprise Ms. Stone’s and Rock & Gem’s readers of this flyer so that they may better understand the serious harm that unauthorized collecting causes on public lands:

Before any harm occurs to archaeological sites and artifacts on public lands as a result of someone reading Rock & Gem’s publications and following Ms. Stone’s advice, Rock & Gem could also take corrective action such as publishing a written retraction of Ms. Stone’s “tips” and removing her article from further publication.

Very truly yours,

Marianne Smith

President, Grant County Archaeological Society

Our readers may want to contact Rock & Gem magazine with their own perspective on the kind of damage Rock & Gem's "artifact collecting tips" do to public lands. Or also too, share this alert and the GCAS's response with anyone else who may be concerned about this issue. Please, everyone, do your part to keep safe our public lands and the artifacts they contain.

/s/ webmaster


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)