NEXT MEETING: Wednesday, July 17, 2024, 6:00PM: members and non-members are welcome to the GCAS monthly meeting at the Roundup Lodge in San Lorenzo (Mimbres Valley). We start at 6PM with a potluck - bring your own plates & utensils, and a dish for yourself or to share with with what we expect to be a larger than usual number of guests, including the starving students of the Preservation Archaeology Museum Curation and Survey Field School. Let's feed these folks well, people! At about 6:30PM we will have a brief business meeting followed immediately by our featured speaker, Archaeology Southwest's Karen Schollmeyer PhD, who will share updates on her and her field school team's work at the WNMU Museum which includes curating the artifacts comprising the NAN Ranch collection. Come meet the next generation of archaeologists and learn about the latest activity at our own WNMU Museum. In order to offer our members a safe and comfortable experience at our in-person meetings the GCAS follows CDC and New Mexico Department of Health guidelines for indoor gatherings including masking, distancing, and vaccinations. We recommend each attendee take the precautions they feel are appropriate for themselves.

NEXT FIELD TRIP: Sunday, August 4, 2024, 10:00AM: The GCAS visits Treasure Hill, 4 miles east of Silver City in the Arenas Valley and about 1 mile south of Highway 180. This is a heavily looted site of about 100 pueblo rooms. We'll meet at the site's gate at 10:00 AM sharp but this is a sensitive location so please contact trip leader Marianne Smith ([email protected] or phone/text 772-529-2627) for specific directions. Toward the end of the field trip we're asking each GCAS member to grab one garbage bag that we will provide to pick up whatever trash they can on their way back to their vehicle. Leave the bags at the gate or toss into the designated pickup truck that will go to the landfill later. Bring work gloves for protection from broken glass. Instead of our usual on-site picnic, interested members are welcome to regroup for lunch - Dutch treat - at the Whiskey Creek Zocalo on Highway 180, a short 1-1/2 mile drive from the Treasure Hill site. As always, plan accordingly with appropriate sun protection and water, and to protect vulnerable resources we offer our field trips to members only. Members’ invited guests are welcome as long as they ride in that member’s vehicle.

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). (https://www.saa.org/about-archaeology/archaeology-law-ethics)

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: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprd3821264.pdf

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

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