From: Frank Prochaska <fprochas_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 09:37:31 2004
Donald, David, and list,
It appears to me that there is a much larger business in archealogical
artifacts today than in meteorites. Despite the high profile cases that
make it to the courts that the media likes to capitalize on, people hunt for
Native American and other artifacts all the time. Anything associated with
an archealogical site could be considered a protected artifact in the right
circumstances: an agate, a particular piece of basalt, a fossil, a carved
stick, or a meteorite. That said, not hunting for them for fear of "losing"
it is like a self inflicted "rusty meteorite law". A surprising number of
meteorites are in collections now that have been associated with ancient
sites, the one wrapped like a mummy in a little tomb, the pallasite fragment
worn by leather like it was carried in a pouch for years, and so on. I
don't agree that just because people start to look for meteorites associated
with ancient sites then that means that those finds will automatically be
"lost" to the tribes, or that it might harm more traditional meteorite
hunting in any way.
The high profile meteorite case from the Pacific Northwest that was referred
to was a recent attempt at bringing the Willamette meteorite back home to
Oregon. I haven't heard how this turned out or if a decision has been
levied yet. However, I was surprised when I read of this case because
essentially the same argument was rejected by the courts regarding the very
same meteorite nearly 100 years ago. A Native American tribe tried to make
the case that the Willamette meteorite was a sacred object, they used to dip
their arrow heads in rain water that collected in the cavities, etc. The
court rejected that argument nearly 100 years ago, citing a couple reasons
as I recall, not the least of which was that they had not proved that they
had indeed regarded the meteorite as sacred before the object was
identified, and simply the proximity of the meteorite to the tribes location
was not sufficient. I think this would help reassure meteorite hunters that
any person or group that wants to use this sort of argument has some burden
Remember, the Willamette meteorite is the largest meteorite recovered in
North America at 15 tons. It has and will attract more than it's fair share
of schemes to acquire ownership. It has already been the subject of several
court cases, and the history and anecdotes surrounding this meteorite could
fill it's own book.
Besides, knowing what other cultures thought of and how they used or treated
meteorites is legitimate science, and to me is no less interesting than what
we think of them or how we treat them.
Now, to the original question. If memory serves me, didn't someone post to
this list within the last couple months wondering how to verify if some
fragments he recovered at an old indian village site were pieces of Caddo
[mailto:meteorite-list-admin_at_meteoritecentral.com]On Behalf Of David
Sent: Monday, December 04, 2000 11:47 PM
To: Donald Blakeslee
Subject: Re: [meteorite-list] artifacts and meteorites
Dear Donald and List;
I seem to remember that recently there was a super big court case up
or Oregon way involving native Americans and their interests in meteorites
spiritual items and that repatriation at all costs was the preferred
alternative, meaning plenty of lawyers (we all love lawyers) and the rocks
bones go back to the earth.
So, I feel that to openly hunt meteorites as artifacts is looking for
and I am unanimous in that. As soon as there is some news of meteorites and
arch. sites, you can bet that the tribes will get involved, and in the case
the western states, the BLM archaeologists will get involved and its good
meteorites. As some of you already know, one day all of the bones will be
replanted, and the artifacts (including arrowheads) will all be repatriated
well. Wait for another fifty years and see.
Just my opinion in dealing with artifacts, arch. sites and meteorites.
is grand as long as it doesn't become too self serving, sort of like
Donald Blakeslee wrote:
> Hello to all:
> I am new to the list and am interested in communicating with those of you
> who actively search for meteorites in the field. I am an archaeologist
> interested in Native American uses of meteorites and am hoping to find
> new information from some of you.
> I have been combing the literature for references to meteorites from
> archaeological sites and have found quite a few, but there I keep running
> into problems of various sorts. First, most archaeologists wouldn't know
> meteorite if it hit them on the head, so an unknown number that have been
> excavated have not been reported as such. For instance, iin the report of
> the old excavations at Pecos, there is a brief mention of some small dark
> brown rocks that are very heavy for their size. Since they were found
> a few other items that relate to ritual, there is a good possibility that
> they are meteorites.
> A second problem is with the meteorite literature, and that's where I hope
> you can help me. Many of the find spots are described so poorly that it
> impossible to tell whether the meteorite was in association with any
> artifacts. The Winona meteorite was found with some charcoal adhering to
> its oxidation crust, which might be a clue. The Lost Draw meteorite was
> found by an artifact collector, according to the Catalogue of Meteorites.
> Seems to me that this is a clue; where else would an artifact collector be
> looking than on an archaeological site? Actually, I have a report that
> more meteorite fragments were found on an archaeological site near Lost
> Draw, so there may be a strewn field there (West Texas).
> So here's my request: Do you know of any meteorites that have been found
> fairly recently in spots that also yield artifacts? Or meteorites that
> appear to have been modified by people (other than cutting and slicing)?
> Also, meteorites found on top of prominent hills (the Pawnees, among
> others, put meteorites in such places)? I already have the information in
> the 1975 Catalogue of Meteorites and in Buchwalds' volume on iron
> meteorites and Nininger's old article on meteorites from archaeological
> sites, but I know there are likely to be many more> Can you help?
> Meteorite-list mailing list
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