All day, every day at the Paleoamerican Odyssey we were bombarded with a few images on the information televisions. One of these images was the Rutz Clovis point. It, or at least a good cast, was viewable in the artifact display room along with the Fenn Cache and some other truly remarkable finds. Of course, the initial advertisement for the
conference meeting mentioned that there would be artifacts from the actual Blackwater Draw Clovis site but if they were there, I missed them. Maybe they were not in plain sight.
For those of you NOT familiar with this remarkable biface, it is alleged to be a Clovis-age point discovered in Douglas County, Washington and, if authentic, is the largest Clovis point known in North America. Pretty cool surface find, eh? This is not to say that every knapper or archaeologist is convinced, but I don’t know many people who could even get a hands-on look. If by some chance, it is authentic, it is a little outside the norm for a Clovis point. Who knows? My initial impression, as a person who has handled many authentic Paleoindian points, and made a fair few, is that the margins are remarkably poorly-formed for the finished state of the base and extremely long and very rippled flute.
From what I know of the history, and it is very little, is that this point was announced and immediately put up for sale on a “Treasure Hunter” website in February of 2013 by a “family member” of the finder. Apparently then, sometime recently, a website was created called the http://rutzclovispoint.com/ with vital statistics and images of the point.
Where is this all going? Well, the Rutz “Clovis” point is now up for auction! What lucky timing. Didn’t something like this happen in conjunction with the Clovis and Beyond?
Okay then, your cultural heritage is bought and sold piece-by-piece every day. But who cares?
A fine question (as I am a pessimist when it comes to the natural goodness of people).
So the rub with this sale, and the others rumored this week, is that this was facilitated by the very conference that we, as professional archaeologists, just attended. Or is it just a lucky coincidence? I personally feel like a sucker. It was difficult to even go to this meeting after the blow-back of the preceding weeks. Now this? Did Texas A&M and the Center for the Study for the First Americans really want this association? I sincerely hope not but the list of Board Members at the CSFA concerns me greatly. I am ready to throw my hands up in despair at our readiness to turn to the dark side. To further your career, what is your price?
This is a real and legitimate question. What is the proper relationship between those who trade in bits and pieces of the past and those who are meant to study it? I have looked through many private collections in my career and most collectors are good people. But there is something special bout the Paleoindian
hoarder collector just as there is a gritty edge to some Paleoindian archaeologists. Much like the need to possess an artifact from the Clovis type-site, regardless of the morality or even legality of the claim.
Please, feel free to comment. I’ll continue this discussion…mañana.