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An open letter to the Discovery channel about archaeological looting.

01 Jan

As some of you who have read this blog before will know I am an archaeology major and thus have very strong feelings about archaeology. Well to my horror my girlfriend informed me that the people on the show Ghost labs (a show where a couple of morons use fancy machines that go bing in inapplicable ways and call it science) decided to dig for something they saw under the ground using GPR (at night no less). There are so many problems with this that I’m not even going to try listing them. My girlfriend quickly composed a letter to Discovery urging them to stop this kind of activity. The letter can be found below and I would like to encourage you to send a copy to Discovery or to send a modified version. They have a word limit so there is only so much you can say unfortunately. Also be sure to let all of your friends know about this.
EDIT: Jan-2-2010
I suppose I probably should have explained rather than assume everyone who would read it would be an archaeologist…

The problem is that they were digging at a historical site where one would expect to find archaeological remains. They are most likely not properly trained how to use the GPR and certainly have no business attempting to excavate potential archaeological material. I’m interested in what they thought they were trying to do. Find bodies to explain non-existent ghosts? Depending on the state law what they did could actually be illegal.

Discovery Staff –
I’m watching an episode of “Ghost Lab” that has left a foul taste in my mouth, to say the least. The episode features a location that Blackbeard supposedly visited during his lifetime. In it, the Ghost Lab team uses Ground Penetrating Radar to find an anomaly in the ground, and the team proceeds to dig in the location of this “anomaly.” I have witnessed the downfall of good programming on the Discovery Channel in recent years, but this is offensive, unnecessary, and downright irresponsible. The ruin of the archaeological record in this way goes against everything that the Discovery Channel SHOULD be about. Not only are you jeopardizing the work of future archaeologists in what is obviously a site of some historical significance, you are preventing archaeologists, historians, and the public from learning from the historical material in that earth – you are preventing the “discovery” that your channel is named after! This is travesty! I am so offended by this blatant irresponsible action, I’m not only going to send this email to you, I’m sending it to my cable provider and every person I know who cares about our nation’s history and heritage. I want everyone to know that the Discovery Channel clearly does not value the “discovery” it is named for!

Please, for the sake of the people you serve, don’t let irresponsible programming run so rampant on your airwaves. Use the power of your position to bring people out of the muck of ignorance, not engulf them further in it.

A Concerned Viewer

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2 Comments

Posted by on January 1, 2010 in Archaeology

 

Tags: , , ,

2 responses to “An open letter to the Discovery channel about archaeological looting.

  1. geophix

    January 2, 2010 at 9:16 am

    I did not get a chance to watch the program. I don’t understand your point. Maybe you don’t like ground penetrating radar. Maybe they didn’t use it right. I am a near surface geophysicist and I know there are many geophysical techniques which can help for archaeological discovery and excavation.

     
  2. Justin

    January 2, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    I suppose I probably should have explained rather than assume everyone who would read it would be an archaeologist…

    The problem is that they were digging at a historical site where one would expect to find archaeological remains. They are most likely not properly trained how to use the GPR and certainly have no business attempting to excavate potential archaeological material. I’m interested in what they thought they were trying to do. Find bodies to explain non-existent ghosts? Depending on the state law what they did could actually be illegal. I’m not sure if they found anything, but if they did it would have been a shit storm for them because I’m sure they have no idea what the laws are regarding archeology.

    I hope that clarifies a bit.

     

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