|20 April 2008
One million artifacts acquired by US museum
Howard Sargent was one of New Hampshire (USA) eminent archaeologists. Mount Kearsarge Indian Museum in Warner, which had a collection of about 2,000 American Indian artifacts, recently acquired Sargent's collection. All 1 million pieces. The museum became the court-appointed successor to the collection after the nonprofit that controlled it was dissolved over mismanagement. During the next several months, board members and volunteers will sort through the many boxes to prepare an exhibit for the public scheduled to open September 19.
Sargent's collection is valuable for its vastness and documentation, said State Archaeologist Richard Boisvert. It includes Sargent's field notes and artifacts from 66 sites in New Hampshire covering more than 12,000 years of prehistoric life in New Hampshire. Some of the pieces, like an almost-translucent quartz arrowhead or an intricately etched clay pot, are tangible relics. Other pieces - bags of soil, chips of rock or containers of plant and bone remains - won't likely be on display but could draw attention from graduate students and researchers. "It isn't just the artifacts, it's the records that go with the artifacts that make it so valuable," Boisvert said.
For years, the artifacts remained away from the public eye in a state building on Airport Road in Concord. Now, Mount Kearsarge Indian Museum's Executive Director Krista Katz and others face the welcome task of sorting through the collection and determining what will be displayed from the museum's collection of canoes, beaded garments, baskets and birch-bark containers. There are 900 boxes in all. Of those, 160 boxes containing artifacts from the important Smyth dig near Amoskeag Falls are headed to the Manchester Historic Association on permanent loan. The rest fill Katz's office, the museum library, and a just-built storage area.
Boisvert, the state archaeologist, was a sophomore in high school when he met Sargent. Sargent was digging the Hunter site in Claremont, a deep dig that revealed layers of civilization, and Boisvert convinced him to let him help.
He said Sargent, then a professor at Franklin Pierce College, had an 'overgrown sense of responsibility' to history. He was an archaeologist in a time when there was little grant money available for digs and even less for preserving and analyzing what was found. His home became his storage, he said. Bud Thompson said Sargent's wife told him once that he considered the Warner museum 'his museum.' "I'm sure he's smiling," Thompson said.
Source: Concord Monitor (18 April 2008)
Share this webpage: