Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Television shows celebrate looting

This is an excerpt from an email sent to SAA members by President Fred Limp:

"Late last week the SAA Board was informed that there are two TV series planned that promote and glorify the looting and destruction of archaeological sites. They are American Diggers and Diggers. The first is scheduled for Spike TV and the other for National Geographic TV. As past SAA President Bob Kelly wrote in a recent e-mail in response to American Diggers, "This shameless and shameful program will glorify and promote the mindless destruction of archaeological sites in the U.S." 

SAA and other groups, such as SHA, have already prepared and sent strong letters condemning both of these programs to the production companies, networks, and others. Copies of the SAA letters can be found on the SAA website (, and The letters provide details on why we are so concerned. Up to this point Spike TV has not responded to the public outcry. Leadership of National Geographic, however, has indicated that, while they are unable to stop the showing tomorrow on such short notice, they will place a disclaimer into the show that speaks to laws protecting archaeological and historic sites. They are also willing to enter into discussions with the archaeological community to determine how to raise awareness of the impacts of the use of metal detectors for treasure hunting. We will advise you of developments in this area."

Earlier today, Peter Peregrine (President, Society for Anthropological Sciences) sent around the following update:

"It appears that National Geographic Channel has pulled their show—at least it no longer shows up on its website (though repeats of the episodes aired yesterday are still scheduled for Friday).  I heard through the grapevine that legal action might be initiated in the case of the artifact collecting done at the Old Montana State Prison (state owned and a National Register property) during the first episode that aired, as it seems the SHPO was not informed of that work and no permit was issued."

Does anyone recall what happened with the SAA and eBay several years ago? eBay was (and is) selling antiquities, and many archaeologists were boycotting the service (I still am). I don't remember what official actions, if any, were taken by the SAA, AIA, etc.

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