Skip to comments.Archaeologist, Homeowner At Odds Over Spear Point
Posted on 03/29/2007 1:45:36 PM PDT by blam
Archeologist, homeowner at odds over spear point
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
This Clovis spearhead is believed to be 11,000 years old.
A find of an 11,000-year-old Clovis spearhead has an archeologist up in arms because the owner of the site does not want any further research conducted.
By Melonie Magruder / Special to The Malibu Times
The discovery of a Clovis spearhead, believed to be thousands of years old, at a local home construction site has the homeowner and an archeologist at odds on what should be done with the site. The property owner wants to finish her home and move in, the archeologist wants to preserve the site, called Farpoint, and be allowed to conduct further research.
In September of 2005, Gary Stickel was the archeologist of record at the Farpoint site, then being developed by the private homeowner, and hired to oversee excavation at what was known as an "architecturally sensitive site."
"Other objects, scrapers and micro-tools, had been found on the property," Stickel said. "So we knew it was a culturally sensitive site. Then we found the spear point."
The approximately 8-inch long, stone spear point is a tool produced by the Clovis people, believed to be the first human inhabitants of the Americas.
Not only does that date the piece to more than 11,000 years ago, the site of its location is the farthest point west in North America that the Clovis tribes can be traced, thus the designation "Farpoint."
Dennis Stanford, director of the Paleoindian/Paleoecology Program at the Smithsonian Institute, in a written affidavit that authenticated the spearhead, said "... until the discovery of the Clovis occupation level at the Farpoint site, no "in situ" Clovis age sites are known along the West Coast of the Americas."
The property owner, who is not identified to protect her privacy and the integrity of the archeologically sensitive site, has been cooperative through the last few years of research, but is ready to occupy her new house. And, Stickel said, she has shut down any further excavation.
Under current state regulation, the property owner is responsible for the cost of archeological testing of sites before building can begin.
The Farpoint landowner said, "I have spent all I was required to spend and 10 times more to have this property surveyed."
Raneika Brooks-McClain, the city's planning staff liaison for the Native American Resource Advisory Committee, said, "If culturally significant artifacts are indicated when property is being developed, work stops and an architect is hired to investigate and make mitigation recommendations for further excavation to the homeowner. As per the California Environmental Quality Act, the state is responsible for preserving state resources and, usually, there is a Native American monitor on site to preserve the integrity of any possible human remains."
In this case, the Native American monitor was Edgar Perez, who actually found the spear point.
"Though we didn't find any human remains at this site, we had found several nice pieces," Perez said. "But when I found the spear point, we knew we had something big."
While any historical artifacts found are the property of the landowner, items are usually donated to local museums or cultural centers. The Clovis spearhead now resides at the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum.
"There might be evidence of an entire Clovis occupation on this property," Stickel said, who has excavated at Machu Picchu in Peru and Achilles' birthplace in Greece. "I am ready to oversee excavation for free and I can get a team of students to work for free. But the landowner isn't interested in any further research on her property."
The landowner said, "There is still controversy about the authenticity of the piece. You can't carbon date stone. And, anyway, you can buy Clovis spear points on e-Bay."
And, according to The London Times, which profiled the story recently, the landowner said, "I have followed all of the guidelines. I have worked to preserve the integrity of the site ... Now, I want to move into my house."
Though the spearhead was found nearly 18 months ago, home construction continued on the property.
Brooks-McClain said, "The architect of record failed to follow protocol and notify us of the significance of the find. Work would have stopped immediately and the grounds would have been tested further. As it is, excavation was completed, the house is finished and nothing further is required of the property owner."
Stickel disputes that claim.
"I called the city immediately," he said. "I submitted 11 different mitigation recommendations to preserve the integrity of the site. I'm not about invading the privacy of this property owner. But this site contained evidence of historically unprecedented significance."
Brooks-McClain said the landowner is following protocol for finishing the property's development.
"She is capping her driveway to preserve any archeological remains beneath it."
"I am disturbed to hear that the site is not being properly preserved for testing," Smithsonian's Stanford said. "In Europe, the state is very keen about preserving cultural heritage. But in America, the rights of the property owner still take precedence over the interests of the state."
Also, for the landowner, further excavation is also a question of liability and so, has refused any further digging.
Stickel said the significance of the find is the American equivalent to that of finding the sealed door to King Tutankhamen's tomb.
"This site is unique on the North American continent," he said. "Every hole dug to plant another tree there will compromise the investigation into several cubic meters of history. You have to ask if our past is worth saving."
Want to make a bet the home owner comes out in 2nd place over this?
There's a simple solution to this: eminent domain.
Buy the landowner out and let the site be excavated by the archaeologists, if it's really that important.
If it's not important enough to pay for her land so she can go elsewhere, then let her move in.
"But in America, the rights of the property owner still take precedence over the interests of the state."
As well they should!
ping for later....
Victory for private property rights ping
Are there any of these clovis tribe people still around?
Because if they are, I was wondering if we can sue them for littering since they left all this crap just lying around for people to have to deal with thousands of years later?
"....the rights of the property owner still take precedence over the interests of the state."
Only for the moment, I fear!
A peripherally related story. My neighbor's cat and my cat killed a few "home invasion" mice one spring. Some of the mice looked a lot like a local endangered species. We let the cats destroy the evidence. ;)
Uhh, no. Eminent domain is only to be invoked for the unavoidable needs of the society. Archaeological curiosity is not a pressing need, and we will get along in the world just fine without excavating this site.
Now, if the owner was offered enough $ to VOLUNTARILY sell out, that's something else.
It ain't over 'til it's over.
"Uhh, no. Eminent domain is only to be invoked for the unavoidable needs of the society."
That's not what the Constitution says or Kelo either, of course.
National Parks are certainly not "unavoidable needs" at all, but we used eminent domain to amass the necessary land.
Anyway, my point was simple: if you want to invade her property rights, you have to PAY for it. It may well be that historical study is important enough to prevent a landowner from destroying the site, but if that's what we're going to do, then we have to pay for it. What doesn't work, in my view (the government does not agree, incidentally) is slapping on rules and regulations which have the effect of depriving an owner of use of her property, while saying that it's not a condemnation and therefore no compensation is due. This "regulating to zero" is a pernicious, and widespread, thing.
It's really, really simple: buy the GD property from its rightful owner and dig all you like! I hate to see any important archaeological history lost forever but despite our curiosity about the past, the living still take precedence over the dead and departed in my book. Make the lady an offer she won't refuse.
For now, just wait until the democrats get done.
>>"In Europe, the state is very keen about preserving cultural heritage.<<
You are in America now. We speak English here and I said NO, you cannot dig on my property!
In all seriesness, this will be an interesting story to follow.
Words of wisdom!
Perhaps we can get reperations frok their ancestors...
How many of these "finds" are just plants by over eager archeologists.
I suspect many of them are frauds who want zero development.
I'm with you B4.
That being said, I have a little story. A few days ago I was sent a photograph of a mobile home and a huge pond in Texas that has just been dug. They dug up the graves of my ancestors, a Cherokee community cemetary from the mid 1800's. A few family members tried some years ago to protect the cemetary, but it is now private land. I did not learn about any of this until recently researching a book. It would have been nice if they had allowed someone to move the graves first! No one knows what happened to all the remains.
That being said, it is the current owners property to do as they wish, even though they may be thoughtless SOB's. :
Maybe he's overstating his case, just a little.
Well thank god for that you socialist SOB
There are certain islands in Greece where the lesson is already learned.
If you find sea turtle nests on your beach front land, the owners know to destroy the nest ASAP before anyone finds it. If a hippie foreigner reports it or some communist (literally) sees it, they will try and have your property declared a public preserve.
The origins of a couple National Parks I can think of were donations not eminent domain. If you have any evidence to the contrary, I'd like to see it.
Why isn't the term "Farthestpoint?" :0)
National Parks were started by using existing Federally held lands, which remained in Federal possession from Territorial times. Most of the rest were State properties, not private. (Frankly, I don't think national parks or forests are Constitutionally justified; those areas should have reverted to State property upon Statehood). Kelo was an abomination, rooted in the reluctance of the USSC to incorporate that piece of the BoR.
What the Constitution says is "... nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." And what constitutes public use? "...Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;..." Archaeological digs don't add up to "public use".
Anyway, my point was simple: if you want to invade her property rights, you have to PAY for it.
I'm with you there. One of the (many) things that has peeved me off at Arnold Schwarzenegger was his opposition to a ballot initiative that would have made regulatory "takings" subject to compensation, and tightened the eminent domain laws.
If they want access to the property then they should offer to buy it, or pay a lot of $$$ to keep digging.
This smells like a money issue to me.
And a Lynx Hair Planting Fraud bump back to you.
smells like a object too conveniently found.
Like the fake mountain lion migration data to keep out development.
Well, someone didn't think so.
Warn't me! I agreed with it!
Mr G was just part of a research project in Mammoth Cave. There are many more private caves near the park that they are pretty sure connect to the main cave. The local landowners won't let them be explored however.... if it is found that they connect to the main cave the park will take over their land.
I agree that they should make an offer the homeowner can't refuse if they really want the site. In the meantime, unless the homeowner is mining underground I don't see how living on top of the site is going to do any damage. Unless, they are concerned the homeowner might do some digging on her own and sell items.....
How many of these "finds" are just plants by over eager archeologists. 23
And a Lynx Hair Planting Fraud bump back to you. 34
I warned them, but they allowed it.
They didn't find anything worthwhile, though. Maybe mosquito bites and wood ticks. And red squirrels.
The homeowner should have Rochambeau'd him for it.
And that's why we have the Second Amendment.
I always thought Clovis was a dead king of the Franks, or a spice you use use with ham.
In New york, it's usually a rare salamander.
Are they still teaching this in the Ivory Towers?
Have they found any lynx hairs on the property?
If I were the homeowner I would sell the site to the highest bidder and start the bidding at 10X what I paid for it.
'xcuse me. Unless we're talking the horse and camel, which both evolved here [and left], "Native American", while PC, is an incorrect term. My parents and I were born here. That makes us, and everyone else born here, a "Native American". Since I realize "Indian" has fallen out of favor, how about "Indigenous Aboriginies"? I, for one, refuse to concede my birthright.
sorry i just got out of public school, i can't help myself.