Meth Addicts and Site Looting

Steve pointed out this strange item to me which confirmed a story that my sister told me she’d seen in the Jonesboro (AR) Sun. It seems that methamphetamine addicts in Arkansas have taken to collecting arrowheads and other Indian artifacts. Walking around in fields looking for artifacts fills their need for activity while they are up for days at a time wired on the drug. One addict in the story sold his collection for $1250 to help pay his lawyer.

This is doubly sad. First for the people in thrall to the drug and second for the loss of valuable archaeological information. In many cases it isn’t so much the loss of the objects themselves as it is the loss of the locational information about them. Artifacts are of little use to archaeologists if we don’t know where they came from. That is the true pity of looted sites.

I am a sixth generation Arkansan (my great-great-great grandfather John Huggins Reid moved there in 1845) who started in archaeology there and am familiar with its prehistoric resources. Arkansas is rich in sites that date from the late Paleoindian Dalton hunters who roamed the banks of the Mississippi when it was a braided stream choked with sediment from melting glaciers to the large Mississippian chiefdoms that De Soto saw in the 1540s. One thing the state doesn’t need is this threat to the record of that history.

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