NY Times "archaeology" and "pothunters" – a view from the field
Date: Sat, 25 Jul 2009 12:03:30 -0700
From: George Myers
Subject: Re: NY Times Article
For some of the reaction to the NY Times I read over at the New York Archaeological Council’s listing for PANYC the letter by Joan H. Geismar, Ph.D. President, Professional Archaeologist of New York City (PANYC). I would like to offer a few experiences.
On one site, which recently was sold as the most expensive real estate in Manhattan, the former federal US “Assay Site” we had an electronic transit or “total station” stolen while guards were on duty, both apparently submitted and passed lie detector tests. On the outside of those cases is the warning that all “Laser thefts are investigated by the FBI” and I must say using it and its replacement I was never questioned by them, nor anyone else.
On another site I recall a taunting picture with the heads cut out of the Polaroid, sent reportedly to the NYC Landmarks Commission by a group of “bottle hunters”. It prompted the further excavation there on site one early winter in Brooklyn near Fort Greene where the “Prison Ship Martyrs Monument” is with some of the remains of the over 14,000 who reportedly perished during the American Revolution under what I theorize, due to recent formal British forensic evidence, may have been a plot to poison the king by Admiral Cornwallis, based on the amount of arsenic in his wig and proximal location. He who also ran the occupation of New York city and his brother General Cornwallis were defeated after the long march by combined French troops marching from Rhode Island and meeting up with Washington’s troops on the Hudson River, where the “divide and conquer” was to take place, separating the northern and southern colonies by the river and the chain of forts into Canada. Convinced by the facts of French naval support to have success there instead of New York city, indeed the world was turned upside down.
But I digress. On this site was also a sort of “squatters house” and also it was reported a young minority individual was arrested and taken into custody for being nosy about the site, surrounded as they are in NYC by thousands of people, some not too happy on the deals perhaps made with the Planning Commission or the various “uncollected” agencies, i.e., no one “Building Department” that have various roles to play in development sometimes out-of-sync with each other and perhaps argue with the community, which of course, is no reason to gut features in a site. However, I also wonder if vigilante protection might also get out of hand and not particularly happy to have armed guards over it or reports of the curious incarcerated over it.
Machinery is often available, also sometimes vandalized, but however, perhaps large steel plates over a feature or two would discourage looting and provide a safety factor for the public. But as we know these jobs often have gone to the “lowest bidder” either by fact or design.
Date: Sat, 25 Jul 2009 15:09:04 EDT
From: Ron May
Subject: Re: NY Times Article
If you cannot move steel plates over an excavation, I have often thought a roll of chainlink could do the trick if you got those screw-type metal loops for tying dog leashes on each corner and then simply chained and locked the chainlink down. No bottle hunter in his right mind would cut through all that.