WE STAND CORRECTED. I turns out there are two different shows, one on Spike, American Diggers, and one on National Geographic, Diggers. Similar names and ethical issues.
Spike TV recently announced its March 21 premier of its new show, American Diggers. The show follows a group that attempts to convince owners of properties in archaeologically rich areas (such as St. Augustine and Jamestown) to allow them to metal detect, mechanically excavate, recover, and sell valuable artifacts. This, as well as National Geographic’s promotion of the show, have caused an uproar in the professional community. University of Florida archaeologist Kathleen Deagan was among the first to raise the alarm; this blog linked to the original articles that caused Dr. Deagan’s dismay. Yesterday, the St. Augustine Record published another article about the show. Petitions against the show and National Geographic’s promotion of it can be found HERE and HERE. The Society for American Archaeology, which partners on projects with Nat Geo, sent a letter of protest to the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Perhaps the most interesting take on this comes from the Society for Historical Archaeology. A recent blog post by SHA president Paul Mullins discussed this entire episode as a “teachable moment” that those of us in the archaeological community can use to expand the discussion of why scientific investigation of sensitive archaeological sites for the benefit of all is of greater importance than the monetary value of individual artifacts.