Friday, July 25, 2008

and i thought my backyard was cool

a friend of a friend recently bought about 10 acres of land near me. her husband is a developer, and they are going to build their dream house on the site. they go to dig their foundation, and they uncover a bunch of pottery shards. they keep digging, and they uncover an entire pot. they stop digging by machine, clear the site by hand instead, and near the pot they find a skull. then another pot and another skull. then they called an archaeologist, who called several more archaeologists.

they are literally building their dream house on an ancient indian burial ground.

this area along the rio grande is known to have been habited for many hundreds of years; this particular site dates from around 1200-1250. in a previous incarnation (like 13 years ago), i worked for an anthropology museum where i helped the curators catalog and ultimately repatriate skulls and associated burial artifacts under the federal act, NAGPRA. it was a remarkable experience, to say the least. but NAGPRA doesn't apply here--this is private property upon which was inadvertently discovered a burial site. since no federal monies are involved here, they can do whatever they want with the items. ironically, if they donated them (the skulls and pots) to a museum, then NAGPRA would kick in and neither they nor the institution would be able to keep the items. my friend's friend says she is going to rebury the skulls and artifacts and continue building.

what's under your foundation?

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