09 Treasure Hunters - Importance of the Archaeological...

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Importance of the Archaeological Record Treasure Hunters and Archaeologists
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Most known wrecks from the Age of Discovery have been destroyed by treasure hunters. no information is recorded about the context in which artifacts were found (where in the wreck, how , in what association with what other artifacts, etc.)
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hull remains are never considered important by these people, and much information is lost on how these ships were designed, built, and sailed . More than 50 years after the first Spanish wrecks were found in the Caribbean, many ships have been salvaged, many artifacts auctioned, & many fortunes spent in search of mythical treasure ships.
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Yet, nobody knows how big these vessels were, how many decks they had, how flat their bottoms were, how high their sides were, what the shape of their hulls was, where their masts were stepped over the keel, how many tons they could displace, how fast they could sail, etc. And the unanswered questions never end: for instance, the question how large the trees were from which their timbers were cut is a pretty important one.
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Our knowledge is highlighted by models of the Gokstad vessel
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and the Santa Maria
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Why? Because it is believed that these vessels carried treasures, and up to now it has been considered more important to salvage and sell their cargoes than to understand the people that built and sailed them.
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The questions are therefore: - Who are these treasure hunters? - Why is treasure hunting not forbidden around the world?
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Let us start by the first question: - Who are these treasure hunters?
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Treasure hunters have a long history In fact, nautical archaeology evolved from treasure hunting in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Some say that it was a matter of replacing greed with curiosity.
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First land archaeologists of Egyptian tombs or the lost ruins of Troy were not much different from today’s treasure hunters. Heinrich Schliemann (1822-1890)
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Modern archaeology is a scientific discipline that studies the remains of human activities. It emphasizes the careful study of contexts, rather than on the collection of exotic or valuable artifacts.
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But things always evolve at different speeds, and some people still think of archaeology in terms of collecting exotic or valuable artifacts, or, in other words: treasure.
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Treasure is still a magic word in our world and finding sunken treasure seems a very exciting thing to most normal people. You get something for nothing.
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This is probably the main reason why there are still treasure hunting companies today.
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But to understand why treasure hunting companies are still operating we must take a closer look at the story and the logics of the treasure hunting business.
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Salvage ventures have existed for a long time.
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The Romans had divers to rescue sunken cargo. They were called urinatori and their work was regulated by law, the Lex Rhodia . They could dive up to 100’ In the Middle Ages there were many laws determining the ownership of sunken treasure.
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In the Renaissance there were many attempts to rescue treasure.
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