Looting antiquities and hurt feelings and an appeal to Memorial Day

As many of you are aware, A Hot Cup of Joe is a blog that originated at Blogspot. In fact, the original blog is still there. I even continue to get hits and comments even though my last post was announcing the move to WordPress.

Some of the comments are interesting and I think each and every post that’s at Blogspot exists here thanks to the import feature of WordPress. But, occasionally, I’ll move a recent comment to the WP version just because its interesting, relevant or worthy of mention. Here’s a comment left on my last post at Blogspot:

Sheri said…
As this is day of memory and appreciation for those that have served our country, I would like to express my opinion on a particular blog that you placed in 2006 in Hot Cup of Joe. It was an Oregonian article by Brian Denson in regards to looting of Indian antiquities. I want to express to you that you do not have the facts and yet you revealed your non researched document as truth in the light of being an highly acclaimed archaeologist student. I too, am a student in college. I also have a love for the antiquities of the American Native Heritage as well does a fellow soldier, Harold Elliot, US Army six years active duty-Volunteered. Four of those years in Special Forces. One year in 82nd Airborne as officer. One year in 101 Airborne in Vietnam as an officer. Receiving Purple Heart, Silver Star, and the Vietnamese Cross of Galanty. Yes, He had a collection. That collection was honest and true and was with the heart of preservation of history and the respect for our Brothers the Native Americans. It is politics of those in office that want prestige and fame that disguise themselves as heroes. BLM Officials, Forest Service Officials, FBI Agents. All of whom have Antiquity collections themselves who steal from the confiscations under the name of operation bring em back. Not only has that been the case but they have destroyed these precious vessels and attempting to destroy the lives of two men, Harold Elliot and Miles Simpson who are innocent. THE GROWTH OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN THE YEARS SINCE THE END OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR HAS FED IN THE PARANOIA OF A PORTION OF THE AMERICAN PUBLIC: MILITIA. AS IN 1692 WITH THE SALEM WITCH TRIALS, SOCIETY BREEDS INDIVIDUALS THAT REQUIRE THE NEED FOR CONTROL AND THE ENJOYMENT OF STRIPPING INNOCENT PEOPLE THEIR CIVIL FREEDOMS. Harold Elliot and Miles Simpson’s civil rights were and still are being violated. Look at your previous blog Phillip Fields,Bly Oregon. MORE INFO IS AVAILABLE IF THERE IS AN INTEREST.

May 26, 2008 8:23 AM
I think Sheri has totally misrepresented my post and my intent. But for anyone who wants to view the original and see for themselves, it resides here. Indeed, the only time I mention Elliot’s name at all is in quoting the article itself and then by providing commentary following the quote. The commentary stated, “I wonder if Elliot and Simpson have clear documentation that shows ownership of all of their artifacts prior to 1970? If not, then they clearly are looters, whether they got their hands in the dirt or not.”
My intent wasn’t to slander or ridicule a specific individual (which I didn’t, by the way) but rather to point out the problem of looting archaeological sites and how the buyers, dealers and collectors are every bit as culpable as those that actually do the digging.
Looting of antiquities is a problem for us all, not just archaeologists, because it cheats us out of our histories and obliterates the stories of our ancestors by destroying the contexts of the artifacts that are stolen from the ground. Looters care about quick sales and dollar figures -they discard contextual items of no intrinsic value without concern for information that can be gained from the broken pot sherds, burnt rock, or off-color dirt patches within the same strata as the artifacts they recovered. And the buyers and collectors, who may well believe that they are connoisseurs or cultural advocates who appreciate the ancient cultures the artifacts represent are every bit as culpable as the midnight diggers who rob graves, obliterate archaeological sites and leave behind rubble piles of contextually destroyed matrix.
So, do I know whether Elliot is a good person, a looter, guilty of violating antiquities laws. No. Of course not. Nor have I ever professed to. If Elliot is guilty or not is of little concern to me and was not the point of the post I created. As I said, IF he received stolen/looted goods, he’s every bit as culpable and is every bit as guilty of looting as the diggers that stole them. Period. QED.
It makes no difference whatever that he was a Vietnam Vet, a service member for 6 years or even a good father (his daughter also created a post on the old blog).
If Elliot did NOT receive stolen and looted goods, then he’s innocent.