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'Pot hunters' hit Acadian village

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Thalacker
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« on: August 23, 2009, 03:42:35 am »

'Pot hunters' hit Acadian village
Archeologist disgusted with site looters
By MARY ELLEN MacINTYRE Truro Bureau
Fri. Aug 21 - 4:46 AM


FORT LAWRENCE Charles Burke winced Thursday when he referred to the so-called pot hunters he found on the site of a former Acadian village here.

"These guys said they were just gathering artifacts as a hobby," said the Parks Canada archeologist, with a disgusted grimace.

"Three hundred and seventy holes on this site is hardly a hobby."
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Thalacker
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« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2009, 03:43:43 am »

Pot hunter is a term used for looters who seek artifacts so they can sell them on the black market.

Standing on a ridge near Amherst overlooking the Tantramar Marshes where the village of Beaubassin once stood, Mr. Burke explained his concerns.

"They had no real sense of what they were doing — the history of this place and the sense of importance," he said.

"This kind of thing is an international problem, a huge problem in some parts of the world and the trade in illegal goods is rampant."

Parks Canada workers at the national historic site became concerned in July when they received reports of people on the ridge with metal detectors.

"The ones I apprehended had very high-end metal detectors," he said.

The people were given court orders not to return to the site.

Mr. Burke said they weren’t prosecuted because warning signs hadn’t been erected at the site.

He wonders if he just sent his problem elsewhere. He hopes not.

"Well, I think they were scared but this is the site I’m responsible for," he said.

When looters take items from a place of archeological importance, they not only rob the site, they rob the context.

"For instance, we found a French coin dated 1749 and with it were native artifacts," he said.

"Now we believed there were some Mi’kmaq who took their women and children to live here with the Acadians when there was trouble with the English and the coin, together with the native items, showed us what we knew was true.

"If the looters had taken the coin, well, we would have lost the context."

Parks Canada will soon erect signs warning people that metal detectors are not allowed anywhere near this historic site.

Geraldine Arsenault is manager of visitor experience with Parks Canada.

"Some people don’t know it’s illegal to use metal detectors in a national historic site or to take anything away but it’s definitely illegal," she said.

Ms. Arsenault said Parks Canada wants to keep the site accessible to the public.

"People are allowed to go on these lands because it is a part of our heritage and we encourage them to come here. They just can’t remove anything."

The site has been open for supervised public archeology for the past three summers.

"It has been a wonderful experience for people to take part in the dig and many have found some wonderful objects," she said.

Buttons, nails, pins, clips and shoe buckles have been among the over 15,000 items unearthed over the years.

Since the Acadians were simple, farming people, Ms. Arsenault said there would be no treasures to find.

"The value of the site is in the untouched landscape — it is a place where people lived and toiled and brought up their families," she said.

"People will let us know when there is anything going on because we all take ownership of this site and we can’t let people take pieces away from our collective heritage."

( mmacintyre@herald.ca)
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Thalacker
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« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2009, 03:44:34 am »



Charles Burke, an archeologist with Parks Canada, brushes away dirt from a metal hinge discovered on the former Acadian village of Beaubassin. (TOM McCOAG)
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Thalacker
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« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2009, 03:47:05 am »

http://thechronicleherald.ca/NovaScotia/1138568.html
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