But what do you do when you come across ancient pottery that's sitting on a garbage can?
We were walking the half-mile paved trail to the Escalante Pueblo at the Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores, Colorado -- a museum about ancestral Puebloan people -- when Jim saw a large shard of pottery on top of one of the museum's bear-proof trash cans. It was damp on one edge as if it had been recently pulled from the ground. Thinking that it could fall and break, Jim put it on the ground near the trash can.
When we came back from the pueblo, it was still there.
So we gave the shard to a woman at the museum, who said she'd never had anything like that happen before in her 17 years as a volunteer. The volunteer gave the shard to Michael Williams, an Anasazi Heritage Center exhibit specialist, who approached me (Bev) while I was stamping our National Parks Passports and Jim was back in the car with Cooper.
I explained where Jim found it, and that if it had originally been on the ground we would not have picked it up. Mr. Williams told me he was sure the shard was piece of 12th or 13th century coiled pottery. He also said what we did "was a hard call" and that we "probably did the right thing." His concern was that the Anasazi Heritage Center would not know the piece's provenance: in other words, its origin or history of ownership.
So what would have been the better thing? Leave it on the trash can to get broken or pocketed? Maybe one of us could have guarded the trash can while the other person reported what we'd found to the museum -- but that seemed silly because the shard obviously had not been sitting on a trash can for nine centuries.
Anyway -- we think we did the right thing.
|Some of the pottery seen inside the Anasazi Heritage Center.|