The Mystery Behind Artifact Theft
edited: Tuesday, June 15, 2010
By Linda Weaver Clarke
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Tuesday, June 15, 2010
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Ancient American artifacts are being sold to the highest bidder. When an ancient ruin is discovered, it doesn’t take long for thieves to find out about it.
Archaeological thievery is becoming more and more of a problem every year but Utah’s vandalism is the worst in the country. Theft at the Four Corners area of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona is still a big problem. The damage to these sites is estimated at almost $42,000 in two year’s time. An ancient funeral pit can be sold for as high as sixty thousand dollars on the black market, not to mention pottery, baskets, and pendants found by looters.
An article in the Associated Press said, “Two dozen people were indicted Wednesday after a sweeping undercover investigation into ancient artifacts stolen from public and tribal lands in the Four Corners area.” (Associated Press, Mike Stark, June 11, 2009)
There were around 300 federal agents that were involved in the arrest of both men and women from ages twenty-seven to seventy-eight. They were all part of an underground network. In fact, archaeological theft has gone corporate. They even pay rent on private property in order to dig without being caught. Unfortunately there is no law to prevent digging on private property.
I read an article in the Las Vegas Sun Newspaper about a couple men who were loading some artifacts in the trunk of their car. A ranger saw what they were doing and questioned them, not realizing he had accidentally stumbled upon the largest operation around. The article said they recovered more than 11,100 relics.
Did you know that people are actually selling shards and arrowheads on websites? The Anasazi culture is being sold to the highest bidder. Is there anything that can be done to protect America’s past?
This subject was so intriguing to me that I sat down and began writing. My new mystery series surrounds the theft of artifacts. In Anasazi Intrigue, we find that the mystery of the Anasazi Indians boggles the minds of many archaeologists. Ancient dwellings, petroglyphs, and pottery are part of Anasazi history. When an ancient ruin is discovered, it doesn’t take long for thieves to take it apart. Did you know that looting is only second to selling illegal drugs? While writing Mayan Intrigue, I found that artifact thievery in Mexico has been taken over by drug dealers from Columbia. This amazed me! In other words, since organized crime has taken over, there is also an increase of violence. Can anything be done to save Ancient American history? You bet! The only way is for no one to buy it.