Sunday, May 21, 2017

Failure to Publish - by Tommy Hudson

Tommy Hudson replies to the POOF article [from previous]:

In his article on "The People of One Fire" site, Mr. Thornton says "....I can tell you first hand, it is impossible to protect Native American heritage sites, if you don't know where they are." I assume he includes sites such as the Track Rock Gap stone piles, where he brought it to national attention on a TV show, and published it on the internet. It could be very difficult to protect Native American heritage sites, particularly if he knows where they are.

I will say up front, that we should be careful about making site locations public. We should verify the intentions of the people who want to know. That said, Mr. Thornton's point is not the point. Unfortunately for him, he is only chipping away at the tip of the iceberg. The main reason why no information is published, is that there is no information to publish! Those whom I call 'The High Priests of Southeastern Archaeology', and that would include Kelly, Larson, et al, dug up hundreds of sites and never reported on them. It is the Achilles Heel of the archaeological community. The information on the vast majority of sites was never published. You're lucky if there are a few notes or photographs. It's more fun to dig them up than to write about them!

As an example, go to the Alabama website that is linked through this article. Go to "Archaeological Survey in Talladega County, Alabama." You will find that Mr. Lewis H. Larson Jr. excavated 33 sites and wrote a grand total of 4 pages on all that work. This is the same Lewis Larson that did years of excavations at Etowah Mounds. In the early Sixties, my Father and I took a Greyhound bus to Cartersville, Georgia, then a taxi out to the Etowah Mounds site to witness those excavations. It's a nationally famous site. To date, I have found 3 brief articles written by Mr. Lewis H. Larson Jr. on the Etowah Mound excavations. There's a grand total of 17 pages. Huh? Is that right, you say? That's right. A good portion of the site is destroyed and most of that information is gone, but hey, we got 17 pages. Sad.

If you or I were to go to an archaeological site and dig it up, take away artifacts, never publish information on what you found, and only talk about the site amongst your peers, we would be called looters. That's right folks, and the American people paid for it.

So why doesn't the archaeological community police it's own, like other professions? The reason is called "peer fear." They would rather be known as cowards and hypocrites than to be shunned by their peers. It's really that simple. People that hold themselves out as professional and ethical archaeologists, and had vocally complained to me, in private, about the problem, sat silent when I brought the issue up in very public meetings. The verbiage "cowards and hypocrites" is appropriate.

The latest crop who hold themselves out as professional and ethical archaeologists, is still out there. Most of what is published these days, if it's published at all, is archaeological 'boiler plate', such as the ancient forest was this, and the ancient weather was that, soils, streams, blah, blah, blah. Cut and paste. Not an original thought to be had. Spare me.

Don't get me wrong, there is some very good work being done out there. Jannie (pronounced 'Yannie') Loubser comes to mind. There are archaeologists who actually put some thought and research into what they publish.

Why not withhold 10% to 20% of public money until a report is issued. A report that has been peer reviewed, and most importantly, reviewed by members of the informed public and Indians themselves?

So, while Mr. Thornton, is arguing with the system about his lack of access to site information, he failed to notice that oft mentioned "elephant in the room" that's still there. Let's look a little closer. There is no information. The issue is ''failure to publish.''

1 comment :

Tim MacSweeney said...

It's also sad that the misinformation about Ceremonial Stone Landscapes is so easy to access. The science is sort of buried under a mountain of science fiction - white red haired giants and angels from Aryan or Alien Cultures etc. For every Jannie, there's a hundred Yahoo's selling books or videos, all hoping to appear on the next episode of America Unearthed.