Current topics in archaeology, cultural heritage & historic preservation

Saturday, May 16, 2009

On Disclosing Archaeological Site Locations and Mother Nature

This last week an OAS member that I'd never met sent me an email asking me to send him detailed site locations for rock art around Vancouver, WA so he could visit them and take pictures. He was terribly insulted when I very politely declined to provide the information he sought.

The (somewhat unpleasant) exchange prompted me to think about the responsibilities that all of us who volunteer for archaeology projects have.

At the top of my personal list is that we do not disclose the sensitive site location information that is entrusted to us when we participate in a project. In most cases the best way to protect a site is to keep its location private. There are a few cases, like Effigy Beach (see video at right) where the public traffic is so intense that we take a different protective strategy...but these are few and far between.

Here's a photo of what can happen when a bad person finds a site...

Temanawas Rock near Vancouver, WA is
covered with hundreds of pecked cupules.

...but occasionally there's good news...sometimes Mother Nature wins! Here's the same boulder the next Spring after it had been submerged in the Columbia River all Winter.

...all the offending paint is gone so the vandals were defeated this time...but please don't take the risk of telling anyone how to find an archaeology site that you've been privileged to visit!

Stepping off my soapbox for now...

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