15 October 2015

What Does the Smithsonian Think of Relic Hunters?

Professional archaeologists & historians should thank God for relic hunters. A Smithsonian Institute curator pretty much said so in a recent interview:
Without amateur souvenir collectors and relic hunters, the Smithsonian Institution might never have become the renowned network of museums that it is today. “You really can’t have a national museum,” says Bird, “until you have a nation of people collecting things, people who at least have that concept in their head—the collecting ideal. As low-tech and modest as some of these objects may be, they’re stand-ins for this larger purpose of national memory.” So what makes a good souvenir? According to Bird, each one is a “little bit of memory” that’s physically transportable. “Once you have it,” Bird says, “you can figuratively transport yourself back to that moment in time.” ~
Smithsonian curator William L. Bird
We owe so much to those who have gone before us and to those of us who research, recover and restore what those who've gone before us have left behind. We are so much richer for their efforts.

As some academic historians seem to believe they are the guardians of America's history and the only ones "educated enough" to interpret and analyze, so it is with many professional archaeologists. So I find Mr. Bird's admission quite refreshing.

A lot more to come on this soon.


Mark Snell said...


Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Mark - this topic could be explored and expanded much deeper, I believe. Mr. Bird does so in a recently published book (which I've ordered). There are literally hundreds of thousands of examples.