Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page

Letters to the Editor

Contents


In the interesting and useful article by Baxter and Van Wormer in the latest SAA Bulletin, [1999 (17)1: 30], mention of the Journal of Anthropological Research (JAR) was omitted. JAR (originally the SW Journal of Anthropology) has been publishing original articles and book reviews in archaeology (as well as in the other subdisciplines of anthropology) since 1945 and is a major publishing outlet for archaeologists worldwide. Instructions for authors are published on the inside back cover of every quarterly issue and replicated on our Web page which is www.unm.edu/~jar. JAR is an independent, nonprofit journal of anthropology, published by the University of New Mexico, with 1,300 subscribers worldwide.

L. G. Straus
University of New Mexico
Editor, Journal of Anthropological Research

Return to top of page

I enjoy the Bulletin and its diverse, timely contents.Keep it coming! The latest issue [1999, 17(1): 18-22] has two articles on teaching archaeology in the 21st century, at graduate and undergraduate levels. They are good, but they prompt me to pose challenges. Stewardship and site preservation are important, but our approach is much too myopic. Who considers the thousands of sites not found in every state every year, but which are adversely affected by natural and human agencies? Looting (in Virginia) is minor compared to damage done by other actions, including official inaction--neglect. Based on my 50 years' experience, I estimate losses in Virginia at more than 5,000 sites per year. All should be seen by a trained person, even though 90 percent can't be "written off" immediately. Professionals are too few to do this job alone, but they can teach and encourage local volunteers to watch land alterations, recognize and judge site evidence, and call for help on important sites. Ten percent (500) might deserve Phase II testing to prove importance, and (maybe) one percent (50) will need protection or major rescue efforts. Our profession is not thinking in such broad terms, but it should. It also should teach students this fact--we cannot protect sites we do not find, test, and evaluate.

Owners of sites make the best stewards, but most must be told of sites on their land and how important they are. This mandates early surveys and testing. Also, the public, which includes landowners, should be welcomed at every dig, so they can learn what remains look like and how they are studied. While there, they can talk with the project director and report sites they suspect or know about. I have had marked success with these tactics over many years. I wish all archaeologists would follow suit. If they did, we could truly protect our past. As of now, I doubt if we find and save even 20 percent of our sites. Most sites are on private land, and there is rarely money to pay for archaeology--it has to be done pro bono or through unpaid, guided volunteers. We ought to try, at least! We cannot hope to save all sites, but we should try to save their data. Does anyone dispute these implied challenges?

Howard A. MacCord, Sr.
Archaeologist, retired

Return to top of page


Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page