In early November, WFSU-TV aired a segment titled “Amateur Archeologist vs. Looter: A Matter of Context?” The video featured proponents of a program resembling the defunct Isolated Finds, which let avocational (amateur) archeologists purchase a permit to collect artifacts that had eroded into waterways from their sites. Since the piece aired, new legislation has been introduced into the Florida House and Senate which would enact such a program. In the video below, we talk to professional archeologists and an avocational opposed to rebooting the Isolated Finds program, including the man who oversaw its previous incarnation.
This segment aired on WFSU-TV’s Local Routes on February 4.
Rob Diaz de Villegas WFSU-TV
“We’re not in the artifact collecting business,” says Dr. Glen Doran. “We’re in the information collecting business.” To Dr. Doran and the two men seated next to him, a well preserved paleolithic spear point is a puzzle piece, just like the seeds, bone fragments, and chert flakes around where the point was found. While it might be exciting to be the first person to hold it in several thousand years, to archeologists, the story of that tool’s creator is more exciting. New bills would allow Florida citizens to take and keep artifacts found underwater and “out-of-context,” that is, not buried in an archeological site. If passed, Doran and his associates fear an ensuing “gold rush” that would decimate the state’s rich historic and prehistoric resources.