Re: Statues from Arizona

wilkr (wilkr@INDIANA.EDU)
Thu, 8 Sep 1994 17:37:05 -0500

When I was a graduate student in Arizona, we had a regular business in
the Arizona State Museum of looking at statues found in caves. There are
a bunch of con-men in Nogales who give tourists the idea that they can go
dig in a cave for a fee. They are taken out to a cave, with much secrecy,
where they are encourgaed to dig at a particular spot. LO! they find one
or more statues, just under the surface where they dig! They take a
polaroid of the spot (an extra $10), and proudly smuggle the statue home,
getting a thrill as they take it past the customs office.

The Nogales customs had actually arrested people with teo of these in
1976, and they were sent up to the ASM for authentication!

The ones I saw were all pottery or off-the-shelf composite casts from
tourist shops.\

The hard part was explaining the hoax to the proud owners, who all said
they knew it had to be genuine because they dug it up themselves!

On a more serious note, I would not encourage any archaeologists to get
in the business of authenticating artifacts. SOPA, the SAA and the AIA
all have very strong ethical statements on this practice that you should
consult before you say anything.

Rick Wilk

Richard Wilk Anthropology Dept.
812-855-8162 (voice) Indiana University
812-855-4358 (fax) Bloomington, IN 47405