28 November 2003
Further news on looting of Wyoming archaeological site
Last October we covered the ancient site looted in Wyoming, USA. But now additional information is emerging.
Although the looting occurred some time between spring and mid-June, limited leads have failed to produce any arrests, highlighting the lack of protection for valuables at archaeological sites.
Ironically, it was looting on a smaller scale that encouraged the archaeologists to begin work at the BA Cave Rockshelter. But as Bureau of Land Management (BLM) archaeologist points out, the latest looting was on a different scale: "They moved as much dirt in one event as we moved in 10 years."
The looters dug in a previously undisturbed area of the shelter, through deposits believed to be over 3,000 years old. They apparently sorted through the material, leaving behind pieces of bone and stone, although it's unclear what they may have found and taken. This, together with the difficulty of determining the exact origin of artefacts, makes it difficult to spot looted items for sale.
Although remote, the rockshelter is accessible by four-wheel drive, and with just six BLM law enforcement rangers covering 18 million acres, the authorities find it difficult to stop determined looters. A $20,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction has been put up by the BLM, in the hope that it will give them the lead that they require to recover the lost artefacts.
Source: Casper Star Tribune (16 November 2003)
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