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Thread: metal detecting Gost Towns

  1. #41
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    I just finished reading a great book by John McPhee---Encounters With The Archdruid. It is the brief story of David Brower. For anyone on the fence about saving the West, this book will really confuse you. (I know where I stand.)

    Now I am trying to finish reading The Story Of Inyo by W.A.Chalphant before I head up to the Inyo Mountains next weekend. Chalphant wrote his book in the early part of the 1900's publishing the version I am reading in 1933. His father came west in 1949 with one of the parties that started out with those who first tried to cross Death Valley.
    So, yes, he knows the history of Inyo.

    NJ
    "I got four things to live by: Don't say nothing that will hurt anybody. Don't give advice--nobody will take it anyway. Don't complain. Don't explain." Death Valley Scotty Walter Scott 1872-1954

  2. #42
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    No ones posted on this thread in like 3 years but i just came across it and need to clarify some things. Number one, vandalism of ghost towns is a horrid destruction of our history, and anyone who respects history would never engage in it. Second, the laws the archaeology community and the BLM use to prevent people from metal detecting and bottle digging in ghost towns, such as the Antiquities Act of 1906, were set up to prevent vandalism of ancient sites, such as indian burial grounds, and pot digging in areas like Choco Canyon, although collecting arrowheads is actually legal, as Lady Bird Johnson had an arrowhead collection, and had arrowhead hunting omitted from those laws, so if the BLM gives you a shake down for that, know your rights. But what were really talking about here is metal detecting and bottle digging on public lands,the loose rule is that anything over 100 years old is protected, as long as its 99 years old, youre in the clear, if you find a 1911 wheat penny at a ghost town, you can tell the BLM to kiss it. I've been metal detecting since i was 8 years old, and metal detected in numerous ghost towns, the moral of the story, what were looking for is UNDER THE GROUND, no one is ever going to see it, and unless people like me go out and find it ( because we love history, not because were raping and pillaging) its just going to sit there and rot. If yall want me to leave the beer tabs i find from years of kids out at those places partying ( thats who does the vandalism by the way) i'm more than happy to leave them on top the ground for your viewing pleasure if thats what you desire, although i normally put them in my pocket and dispose of them, i'll stop that tho if it realy tears you guys up that much.

  3. #43
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    I've worked for years as an Archaeoligical photographer is Israel and the Sinai. Things in the ground are actually simply "lost thing". Most areas will never be excavated especially with the lack of funds available. Also most states, such as Florida simply require that "finds" be reported to the state so that historical records can be complete. Most metal detectorists are ethical and will assist and aid local and state historical societies and museums by reporting and in many cases donating their finds. The work of such people is invaluable as they find many things that would never be discovered. England actually works with private individuals to ensure they are rewarded for their work and to ensure that important finds are gotten into appropriate museums. I myself discovered a very unusual crock in the Sinai dessert which was reassembled and placed in the Rockefeller museum in Jerusalem.

  4. #44
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    Tsarevna is offline Rawk Crawlin GPS Totin Ghost Towning Expert
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    Not meaning to be rude, but this ain't Israel and this ain't England.

    We don't have an ancient history (not one of metal use.) Our government doesn't want to work with metal detectorists because our weak laws protecting antiquities would probably mean they ended up in someone's garage or at ebay auction instead of in an museum. In some states it is legal to sell tombstones and grave markers!
    If we had strong laws like some countries do, I'd be more for this. But we dont.

    You left out one extremely important point about the way it works in England: over there they reward people that find treasure only if they leave it where they found it. They dont' reward people that dig stuff up and store it in their garage for years. They slap handcuffs on those types. They can bring a sample, like a few coins to an expert to see if it is worth investigation, but they have to leave the stuff where they found it! The dude who found the silver coin cache in the pot recently left it there.

    It was in the ground, in context, and this helped archeologists. That is why he's getting praise. If you go metal detect a ghost town, and take all the stuff out of the layers of soil, it no longer has a date. A coin might have a date on it, but to figure out if it was likely deposited around the time it was minted you'd have to know the soil layer.

    Lets say it's the year 2095. It's the Pacific North West. Take for example, a 1976 coin, found in a ghost town that was abandoned in 1979. Was it found above or below the ash layer of the Mt. St Helens eruption? If you found it above the ash layer, you'd know the eruption happened in 1980, and therefore the coin is not an "artifact" of the ghost town but was dropped by a visitor in the 80's or later. However, if an un-trained metal detectorist finds it and hands it to an archeologist, it has been stripped of it's context. The archeologists asks if he knows if it was pre 1980 or not and the metal detectorist can only shrug. Let's say the coin is foreign currency. Was it possibly owned by the teacher of the town, and shown to students as part of an education about the wider world? Well, if the metal dectorist knew he was looking in the foundations of the school, we could make an educated guess. So the archeologist asks "where did you find this?" and he says oh I dunno. (Cause he doesn't know where the old buildings used to be and didn't flag or geo-tag where he found it.)


    It's not just a matter of ethics, it's a matter of practicality.
    You just can't tell a looter from an ethical metal detectorist by looking at them. The anti-metal detecting code is there to keep places open to visitors. To keep gates and fences from going up. Governments and individuals usually don't fence a place until they feel threatened by people on the property digging or vandalizing.

  5. #45
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    Excellent points..............Speedy

  6. #46
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    I've said this before:

    My brother is an anthropologist. I have been with him on Santa Rosa Island when he and some other anthropologists discovered a pygmy mammoth molar. They photographed it, got a gps location and wrote it up in their notes. HOWEVER, they left it where they found it for the archeologist to come and collect, catalog, and curate. DON"T COLLECT. Photograph, enjoy, and leave it for the expert who is studying that particular site.

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    NJ
    "I got four things to live by: Don't say nothing that will hurt anybody. Don't give advice--nobody will take it anyway. Don't complain. Don't explain." Death Valley Scotty Walter Scott 1872-1954

  7. #47
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    If every metal detector user had the best intention for the artifact found, then by all means I'd say have at it. But I'd bet that roughly half of the users (likely far more) of a metal detector have their own intentions at the fore front, so I say it's better to leave it rot away than to dig up, make a profit selling it off to a collector for likely only them to admire. Consider it the one bad apple rule. That and too many are ignorant of how the unit works and they do more damage to the site taking stabs. I have honestly seen a metal detector in use where the guy didn't realize the ground was laden with iron ore and he was freaking out about how much "stuff" he was hitting on.

    That and I'm tired of walking into old buildings that had their floorboards ripped up by treasure hunters looking for some old miners stash. Call me old school, too conservative, what ever. When it's your back yard getting trashed, you tend to get pissy. Especially when you see some idiot using a metal detector right next to an Antiquities warning on a carsonite.
    "I have a .44 and a shovel, I'm sure no one's gonna miss you" - Virginia City, NV

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  8. #48
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    What pains me as a collector - as well as being a history nut - is going to a bottle show and seeing shards, bits, and scraps of historic items or pieces lying in a box that says Your choice: $3 each (or similar). The bits would be better left at the site for whatever value they can impart to the history. They ain't doing nothing sitting in a box with a dollar tag. Eventually these items end up in someones window sill or desk drawer without any history whatsoever attached. Just a bit sitting there. I've even found, at the end of a show, dug items in a trash barrel. Obviously someone who was packing up to go home & didn't cash out their dug random items, things like corroded or broken belt buckles, 1800's cartridges & 4-hole shirt & trouser buttons, tobacco tins, and so on. I think to myself idiot! ...why didn't you at least leave it at the site? The unthinking pack rat mentality.
    Last edited by RedDogSaloon; 01-29-2011 at 11:31 AM.

  9. #49
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    I was camping in Grass Valley south of Pilot Knob, California, this past weekend and spent much time cleaning the site of shooter glass, brass, and unspent cartridges. After staring at almost all of the ground around my campsite, I spotted a small obsidian scraper. The nearest obsidian is fifty miles north. I showed the flake to my buddy and photographed it. Then I put it back where I found it.

    Here are the photo's which are worth far more to me than the artifact itself.

    NJ

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    "I got four things to live by: Don't say nothing that will hurt anybody. Don't give advice--nobody will take it anyway. Don't complain. Don't explain." Death Valley Scotty Walter Scott 1872-1954

  10. #50
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    Not that I would ever have an opinion, but I disagree with the statement that eludes to privately owned artifacts being any less valuable or significant than those found in museums. I'd much rather see an antique displayed privately than allowed to rot. As far as the law goes, there are special use permits that allow for this kind of thing. On the other hand I have to agree about the private land thing. For most of these places, the state is the custodian. Find out who governs a particular town and apply through that agency for a special use permit. You just might be pleasantly surprised!
    "Give me a fish and I'll eat today. Teach me to fish and I'll eat tomorrow." Samuel Clemmins

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