Private Enterprise Is Deadly to Archeological Sites?
By Staff News & Analysis - March 07, 2012

Ancient cave speaks of Hades myth … George Papathanassopoulos … led excavations at the site starting in the 1970's. He speculated that the ancient Greek notion of Hades, a gloomy and misty home for the dead, may have had its origins in the cave's rituals … Not protecting the cave immediately, "was a huge lost opportunity, it had been sealed for thousands of years," Papathanasiou says now. However, when archaeologists realized what was at hand there, seeing basket after basket of Stone Age pottery emerging from the cave, they led efforts to keep tourists from trampling the site. "There are still very many intact places where very good science can take place," she adds. – USAToday

Dominant Social Theme: Thank goodness the larger Invisible Hand has been banished from archeology. Otherwise, we'd lose all these precious resources.

Free-Market Analysis: This is an elite meme we've been meaning to point out for some time. The Western world's power elite never sleeps when it comes to finding ways to reinforce the simplistic idea that competition and self-interest are somehow "bad," and lead to bad decisions.

The alternative, of course, is ultimately government and that's just the point. The idea is to ensure that various governments around the world continue to expand, which provides cover for the handful of Anglosphere elites that are trying to move the world toward global governance. They do this via mercantilism, hiding behind governments they control.

The tools that these elites use in their push toward world government include brute force but also what we call dominant social themes, the fear-based promotions utilized to ensure that Western middle classes are frightened into giving up power and wealth to globalist facilities. One huge elite meme is the exploitation of individuals by the Invisible Hand of competition.

In fact, enlightened self-interest expressed via commercial competition is not necessarily exclusionary. One needn't "win" or "lose." Often competition forces BETTER systems and methodologies that benefit everyone. And those new manifestations enrich owners and developers who might otherwise not have invented them in the first place.

This article, however, is a good example of the theme that competition and "exploitation" is generally "bad." Yes, it's mainly about the evolution of Grecian beliefs in Hades … but right in the middle of the article, the text diverts into this weird peroration about the dangers of commercialization of archeological sites. (See excerpt above.) Here's some more from the article:

In a nutshell, the cave contains a record of some of Europe's first property-owners, farmers for whom claims to tillable acres were doubtless life-and-death matters worth fighting over. That also made ownership, signified by elaborate burial rituals for family members, much more worth making a fuss over. "We don't quite know what was going on with the ritual activities, but it seems they were burning sacrificed animals, smashing pots and other pottery, and building large fires inside the cave," Galaty says. "It could have been really nasty depending on what they were burning."

Fumes coming out of mystic caves figure in big ways in ancient Greek mythology, such as the classical Oracle of Delphi who foretold the future of kings and empires. Although that was thousands of years ago, around 1400 B.C., after the closure of Alepotrypa Cave, such a relationship was suggested by the Greek archaeologist

The other thing Papathanassopoulos did was save the cave from the fate of becoming a tourist trap. First re-discovered in 1958 by local people, Greek tourism officials saw it as a cave attraction, carving out walkways with bulldozers, installing trestles and even putting a pontoon boat in the interior lake to help with a light show. ("They had to saw the boat in half and then put it back together to get it through the chamber entrance," Galaty says. "It's still floating there.")

Ironically, in this article, the Greek government itself is blamed for exploiting the cave, and archeologists are lauded for shutting down the "exploitation." But this is a kind of logical fallacy.

The logical fallacy is one of omission as opposed to commission. While it is certainly true that in some cases private enterprise can damage archeological treasures, one can make a case that academic (government supported) archeology can be just as damaging.

There was, for instance, the dumping of tons of dirt on irreplaceable ancient finds in the US that took place at the end of the 20th century. This was because Native American tribes don't want evidence to emerge that there were human beings occupying what is now the US before them.

Native American tribes have some physiological similarities with the peoples of Asia and supposedly came into the US via an Alaskan ice or land bridge about 13,000 years ago. But increasingly, there is evidence that non-Native American physiological types (maybe Caucasians) occupied US regions (and Canada, too) before the incursion of Native Americans.

Were this merely a scientific issue it would not loom so large. But there is a good deal of moral (and financial) complexity to the claim that one's racial species is the first to arrive in a given area. American Indians have suffered greatly at the hands of European invaders; and this perception has provided a moral impetus to reward survivors with various pecuniary privileges.

Were it proven that Native Americans did to OTHER cultures what Europeans did to them, then those who lobby for greater funding and greater regulatory exemptions in Washington, DC and at the state and local level would have a less compelling moral argument. The funding stream might well be affected.

To prevent this, Native Americans and certain enablers have launched an aggressive campaign to ensure that evidences of pre-Native American cultures do not come to the attention of the public. This actually has resulted in the apparent destruction of certain remains.

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 apparently provided for the return of remains connected to modern-day tribes. And 20 years later, in 2010, the Department of the Interior finalized the ruling.

What's the result? At the University of Michigan, 1,580 "culturally unaffiliated remains" were identified for transfer to 13 Indian tribes that indicated they wished to receive them. Much of the activity apparently is aimed at ensuring that the so-called remains of "Kennewick Man" – European and Caucasoid in appearance – are eradicated.

This no hypothetical event, either. At the behest of American Indian nativists, the US Army Corps of Engineers dumped 500 tons of rock and gravel on a Columbia River site that held the remains of a Kennewick-style man. This also occurred near Kennewick, Washington for apparently the same reason – to ensure discoveries that might contradict the current narrative would not come to light.

These are just two examples among many. The trouble with excluding the Invisible Hand from archeological endeavors is that when competition is not allowed to determine scientific discoveries, then something else will. That something, of course, shall be political in nature.

Public anthropology and archeology are by definition defined by the sentiments of the day and the pecuniary rewards that can be garnered by creating and consolidating a certain narrative. Of course, such narratives never last for long as science is a constant ferment. But the exclusion of the private sector can certainly LENGTHEN the time that a given hypothesis remains undebunked.

The logical fallacy we referred to at the beginning of this article has to do with the omission of the harm that is done when competition is excluded from any professional discipline. Most of the harm is not discernible to people outside of a given industry or academic discipline. But it surely exists.

The harm is done in numerous ways. Mostly it takes place in the ways that science is subtly twisted to confirm given theories and belief systems. Sometimes evidence is outright suppressed and probably more often leads are simply not followed up on.

After Thoughts

The rigid construction of public archeology – the museums, academies, journals and research projects all supported at the end of the day with some sort of government funding – may provide us with success stories (sites saved, etc.) but their costs are rarely tallied.

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