treasure hunters do archaeology with high standards?
No. The aim of treasure hunting is profit and treasure
hunting companies depend on investor's money. In a normal
competitive environment investors prefer companies that yield better returns on their investments. It is an indisputable fact that careful excavations
are more expensive than the quick salvage of artifacts with market value, and companies that try to follow good
archaeological standards will not survive long in any informed market.
2. Can archaeologists
and treasure hunters work together?
No. Like any other professionals, archaeologists are bound
by a deontological code. No deontological
code accepts archaeologists selling artifacts to pay for the excavations. And no deontological
code allows archaeologists to lower their standards of practice so that their bosses can make a better profit.
3. Can archaeology be
conducted by private organizations?
Yes. The Institute of Nautical Archaeology is a good example. Entirely private, the Institute of Nautical Archaeology
has pioneered the field of underwater archaeology for over three decades without ever selling one artifact.
4. Why should archaeological
collections be kept together?
For several important reasons:
Because artifacts are normally
part of assemblages and alone are frequently meaningless;
Because artifacts are always
different from many points of view;
Because the study of assemblages
of artifacts is always evolving;
Because as technology evolves
artifacts can yield more information if tested with new techniques;
And because there is no
need to sell them.
5. Should less developed
countries allow treasure hunting ventures in their waters when they cannot afford a high standard of archaeology?
This is one of the most
preposterous arguments of many treasure hunting companies and representatives. This argument
implies that poorer nations should not aim for development, education, or environmental protection (and their cultural
heritage is directly related to these aspects).
6. Are shipwrecks a scarce
Yes. A very scarce one. Only a certain
number of ships were lost in each period, by each culture. To destroy
them all now is to destroy the hope that future generations may look at their cultural heritage with their own
7. Given the fact that
sometimes, if not protected, shipwrecks can be looted by sport divers, destroyed by fishing trawlers, or just decay
with time, should it not be advisable to allow treasure hunters to salvage them?
No. To allow the salvage
of shipwrecks is to add an additional factor of destruction to those above mentioned. It is a fallacy
to pretend that treasure hunters would only aim at shipwrecks in danger of being destroyed by nature, fishing trawlers,
or sport divers.
8. Are treasure hunters
a real threat to underwater cultural heritage?
Yes. Many shipwrecks have been systematically destroyed
by treasure hunters searching for valuables. We know far
more about the Roman and Viking vessels than we know about Iberian vessels, so violent has been the destruction
of these ships by treasure hunters.
9. Is treasure
hunting really profitable as an investment?
No. There are two types of treasure hunters. There is a small, silent minority who really finds
and rescues precious cargoes, and that goes largely unnoticed by the general public. The large,
noisy majority who advertises its activity in the press, on the internet, and through PR agencies in search of
ignorant investors rarely rewards its investors. P. T. Barnum
once said that "a sucker is born every minute," and sadly many treasure hunting companies have ravaged
the finances of many ill-informed investors who found it exciting to go search for sunken treasures in exotic seas.
10. Is there a future
for treasure hunting?
No. More and more countries are forbidding this activity
in their national waters. Also, most
museums have adopted a ban on the purchase of items salvaged from shipwrecks.