On our survey (with the Federal Government. Oh my, imagine this), we had high school kids from the local school come out and spend a day with each of our survey crews. A few REALLY got into it, and others were more like couch potatoes.
We also invited local metal detector 'amateurs' out to help us with a portion of the Park that had Civil War remains. They really helped us find some very interesting artifacts that our surface survey would not have found. Each crew also had a volunteer who was an amateur. One guy was in his late 60s but he kept up with us 20 year olds no problem. He just had a profound interest in the subject and was one of the best workers as a result. No formal training whatsoever. We all loved him.
As archaeologists we also recorded a number of fossils in the arroyo beds, even though strictly speaking they were more the purview of geology than archaeology. But as with most things we mapped its location (on a topo and using GPS) and details about it, but left it as we found it.
Why someone would go out of their way to destroy such things is beyond me--just to get back at 'academia'? What a stupid reason. You might as well go spray paint some graffitti on a Police Station or something equally intelligent.
Makes me ashamed to share the title 'Freeper' with such a person.
Well, I did not imply that I would go out of my way to destroy artifacts. I'm just trying to say that if I'm such a boob, why should I be responsible to hold a distinction between an perfect arrowhead and hunk of limestone? I was just venting my frustration that it is commonly held opinion that the mere public knowledge that an artifact or site exists is "a shame". I don't think an artifact has any more value than the fascination of the observer/collector regardless of his status. Don't tell the great unwashed public not to touch. Teach us and trust us. Pass reasonable laws that preserve the landscape but that don't penalize serendipitous discovery. Don't put up signs that say: "Access Prohibited" but rather put up ones that say: "Protected site, for legal access contact:.....at......". Then prosecute violators vigorously. Prohibitions should be left to private property and Military sites. I don't resent hunting laws because they generally provide a reasonable means for public access. Why can't we provide similar rules for artifacts? I'd buy a license and perform due dilligence/disclosure if I found something interesting and even be willing to surrender it if an item was deemed by an authority to be important. Also, I'm not totally against academia. I think the laws constraining archaeologists from the scientific and careful excavation of ancient burial sites are unreasonable too.
Granted, the difference between modern grafitti and the revered inscriptions on Pompey's Pillar, Independance Rock, and the ancient pictographs is a matter of time and taste. Unfortunately, those who wish to donate their mark to posterity seldom do so now without obliterating their predecessors.
I wouldn't object to names and dates so much were this not the case, but could readily dispense with some of the more explicit characterizations of their peers.
Still, such scratchings are the roots of history, Pompeii and Herculaneum are noted for grafitti in soma quarters. It is the destruction of the existing writing/pictographs to which I object more than the addition of new markings in otherwise unmarked areas.
I worked on an archaeological crew in Bath County, VA, the summer after I graduated from College. We had a very diverse group, a lot of fun, and made a couple of contributions to VA prehistory. I loved it, but continued on to grad school and to the oil industry. The fascination (and thrill of discovery) never goes away.
One of my former professors has been metal detecting for eons, and I believe the metal detector has finally found a (rightful) place in the archaeologist's toolbox. A little careful documentation turns what was once considered relic hunting into valuable data, especially on a battlefield (be careful of unexploded ordnance, though).