Archaeologists Submit Questions to Collectors

This page is dedicated solely to providing professional archaeologists an opportunity to ask questions to artifact collectors about their artifact collecting activities and their opinions on the decades-old disagreements between artifact collectors and professional archaeologists. For example, you may be puzzled in some way about artifact collector behavior.  You may believe some “fact” about artifact collectors that is not true.  Whenever a disagreement breaks out between two sides, it is usually because both sides harbor certain misconceptions about each other.  This is your chance as a professional archaeologist to ask specific questions directly to artifact collectors to learn new things or clarify anything that is on your mind. However, please try to avoid being too general with your question.  No one has time to write a 300-page book to answer a highly generalized, broad-spectrum question for you. Please try to ask specific, focused questions about subjects of concern and issues. You may ask your questions in the Leave a Reply box below.

The following is an Example Question of the general kind or type that we would like to see professional archaeologists write into the Leave a Reply box below.  Your questions can address any subject of concern with regard to artifact collecting and artifact collectors. Your questions can be either short or long.  That is all up to you.

Example Question

Why is it that most American artifact collectors do not catalog each artifact in their collection, photograph each artifact, and keep written records on each artifact, including when and where it was found—especially for those artifacts you have found in the field yourself.  Your artifacts, and most of all the written information you record for each one, would be of tremendous value to the professional archaeology community.  Do you not know how to keep such provenience records?  Is it just too much trouble to do it? Would doing it make artifact collecting seem more like work than a hobby?  If you could purchase a very simple, prefabricated template on CD or DVD at a reasonable price for recording such information on every artifact in your collection, would you do so and actually use it to record every item in your collection?  If not, then why not?

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5 Responses to Archaeologists Submit Questions to Collectors

  1. “Why is it that most American artifact collectors do not catalog each artifact in their collection, photograph each artifact, and keep written records on each artifact, including when and where it was found—especially for those artifacts you have found in the field yourself?”

    My response: Why do you make these assumptions? I catalog all my significant finds/items. I photograph each one, identify each one and keep an electronic journal, as well as a printed one, giving all the information described in the question. I’ve also done videos of collections/finds.

    “If you could purchase a very simple, prefabricated template on CD or DVD at a reasonable price for recording such information on every artifact in your collection, would you do so and actually use it to record every item in your collection?”

    Here’s a new source for doing just that: http://relicrecord.com/

    I don’t use it, so won’t comment on it’s value, etc. However, every relic hunter/collector I know keeps meticulous records of finds and collections.

    Thanks for the opportunity to respond.

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  2. Steve K says:

    Relicrecord.com is a interesting site but I also keep record of my finds in photos, drawings, and logbooks. My fear is posting this info on a website that might make it easy for me to access it anywhere via the net but how secure is it? Sure my bottle collection might be worthless to most but information regarding “Tango Foxtrot” on the web seems to be a bad idea….

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  3. Moderator says:

    Richard and Steve: Thanks very much for commenting. This discussion raises a few really interesting questions for both artifact collectors and professional archaeologists. Maybe artifact collectors and professional archaeologists have different ideas about what information is the most important to record for each item in a private collection? Here are some questions you collectors and archaeologists can answer and discuss here:

    Questions for Collectors

    1) What specific pieces of information do you artifact collectors think it is most important to record for each artifact in a collection? Why those particular pieces of information?

    2) Does the relicrecord.com format solicit all of those specific types of artifact information that you artifact collectors think it is most important to record for each artifact—or does it need to ask for more information points? If so, what information points would you add to their format?

    Questions for Professional Archaeologists

    1) What specific pieces of information do you professional archaeologists think artifact collectors should record for each item in their collections so their collection records will one day be a really valuable and useful resource for professional archaeologists?

    2) Do you think the relicrecord.com format achieves that, and what do you think about the answers the collectors gave for their two questions above?

    Like

  4. Richard Williams says:

    In reply to #1, I record the location, date and history of the location. I also sometimes record additional details about the item recovered such as how it was used and how it likely ended up at the site recovered.

    In reply to #2, I don’t use RR, so I can’t answer. I record all my finds digitally and also keep a printed notebook with photos and notes.

    Like

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