Saturday, May 19, 2007

Deep Sea Treausre

This is amazing for the scale, and not surprising that the whiners have sprung forward to villify those who take the risks and put forward the investments to recover this wreck.
Explorers for a shipwreck exploration company based in Tampa said Friday that they had located a treasure estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars in what may be the richest undersea treasure recovery to date.

Deep-ocean explorers for the company, Odyssey Marine Exploration, located more than 500,000 silver coins weighing more than 17 tons, along with hundreds of gold coins and other artifacts, in a Colonial-era shipwreck in an undisclosed location in the Atlantic Ocean, the company said in a statement.

17 tons? Damn. That's a lot of material.
“All recovered items have been legally imported into the United States and placed in a secure, undisclosed location where they are undergoing conservation and documentation,” according to the statement.

Citing security and legal concerns, Odyssey has not disclosed details about the discovery, including the origin of the coins and the identity or location of the site, dubbed Black Swan, but has said it is “beyond the territorial waters or legal jurisdiction of any country.” Phone calls seeking comment were not returned on Friday.

Now the whiners:
The bountiful find is sure to reignite the long-running debate between undersea explorers and archaeologists, who view such treasure hunting as modern-day piracy.

Kevin Crisman, an associate professor in the nautical archaeology program at Texas A&M University, said salvage work on shipwrecks constituted “theft of public history and world history.”

He said the allure of treasure hidden under the sea seemed to blind the public to the ethical implications. “If these guys went and planted a bunch of dynamite around the Sphinx, or tore up the floor of the Acropolis, they’d be in jail in a minute,” Mr. Crisman said.

That logic is interesting. It's completely bogus, but why stop with analogies that aren't relevant. By the standards that they appear to wish to force on the rest of the world, no one would be able to recover any wreck unless there was an archaeologist in control of the whole thing. Piracy is also completely ridiculous in that no one actually owns or controls the wreck they are recovering, so those taking the risks of recovery are completely free to take the materials. There are no ethical implications in reality. Not to mention the assumptions that these people have no right to try to recover this wealth. I also don't see anyone in the "public" domain investing the money and risk to life to do the recovery. And as to the fact that there is no lawful restrictions, there is absolutely no ethical problem.

The CEO stated:
Anticipating such comments, John Morris, the chief executive of Odyssey, said in a statement: “We have treated this site with kid gloves, and the archaeological work done by our team out there is unsurpassed. We are thoroughly documenting and recording the site, which we believe will have immense historical significance.”
So they are trying to do documentation and preservation, but not to the satisfaction of the archaeological set.
Robert W. Hoge, a curator at the American Numismatic Society in New York, questioned the secrecy surrounding the discovery and said that while it might be perfectly legitimate, the findings would have been better preserved in the hands of archaeologists.

“Whenever these finds are made by treasure hunters, their first thought is to sell instead of preserving,” Mr. Hoge said. “They need to make money because they’re a corporation with enormous expenses. They’re not there to preserve history.”

All non-arguments. If the Archeology set wants to get the finds, then they should be the ones putting up the money and taking the risks. But since they aren't willing to do so, others are going to do it. Whine all you like, but unless you're willing to put up, shut up.

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