Scorning Beaubassins bandidos

Staff ~ The Amherst News
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To the Editor,

As a follow up to Rick Harper's letter ('Metal detectors have their place,' Amherst Daily News, Aug. 26), he is correct as to their value in that regard, and far from giving them a bad name, there is good reason for excluding their use at archaeological sites. Artifacts located using metal detectors and arbitrarily removed, immediately negate their value from an historical standpoint.
These sites, including Beaubassin, are laid out on a precise grid. In modern times, the grid is established using global positioning system co-ordinates. Smaller subdivisions of the main grid are measured and recorded in selected areas within the grid. The vertical component of an artifact's location is also recorded - how deep it was, which often serves to indicate whether the artifact was located at the correct depth to link it with Beaubassin or a later time over the 250-year period since the village was burned.
Without these precise vertical and horizontal components, the artefact is virtually worthless. Since the depth of the village level 250 years ago is precisely known, proof of the age or era of an artifact located with a metal detector and removed cannot be ascertained, and has as much real value as any piece of junk found on the street.
Archaeological examination of an historical site is no treasure hunt. Beaubassin was burned in 1750, but not before the inhabitants had plenty of time to move.
Consequently, there is little expectation of finding anything in sound condition that wasn't removed with the village possessions. Broken pipe stems and pottery shards are found precisely because they were broken and useless.
What is most important is the location of non-metallic elements: foundations, signs of disturbed ground, soil discoloration and defined boundaries, latrines and middens (rubbish dumps), indications of posts or wood structures long since decayed, but leaving the stain of their difference between the surrounding ground.
The bandidos who think they will find something at Beaubassin that will sell for big money are deluding themselves.
John G. McKay, Amherst
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  • Bob
    January 18, 2010 - 10:52

    what about all that gold that fell out of their pockets when they left so hurriedly! Someones change could be laying around! oh those bandidos always looking for money for the transit.