I'm sure some of you have read about Odyssey Marine Exploration's recent announcement of discovering $500 million USD worth of sunken treasure in the form of antique colonial coins. While they [Odyssey Marine] have kept the location of the wreck a secret, even to their investors, their is growing speculation as to the origin of the wreck and the actual ownership of the recovered 'treasure'.
As a little background, Odyssey Marine Exploration is a publicly traded company whose sole job is to seek out sunken ships, and sell whatever artifacts are found for the profit of its investors under the guise of archeology. They previously came to media attention in 2003 when they discovered the SS Republic and recovered $75 million worth of artifacts. Last year (2006) they posted a net loss of $20 million and their stocks dipped to almost half of what they were worth after the SS Republic find.
The secretive nature to which Odyssey Marine has kept its information pertaining their recent find has brought the ire of the Spanish government who believe the find (presumably HMS Sussex) was in Spanish waters and that any loot recovered is partially theirs (as per a prior deal with Odyssey Marine) and was illegally removed from Spanish territory. OME has said its not the Sussex, but has hinted, or simply not denied it was a wreck off the British coast.
In any case, I was wondering how you may feel about this sort of business or your opinion on the current situation. Is this actually archaeological research has become? A business? I do not see the historical merit of plundering some wreck for the benefit of a select group of people when the discovery knowledge and the preservation of history is in itself core intent of archeology. In any case, what do you guys think of it all?
I'm way cooler than n0e (who isn't though?)
11th February 2003
I think any archeological findings and discoveries should be left soly to the country it was found in, no matter WHO found it or PAID for it to be found.(and I definatly have strong feelings about this, because of alot of our[egyptian] shit NOT being our own country's museums).
Heaven's gonna burn your eyes
16th April 2005
I agree. We have such a tentative grasp on history as it is, having a "finders keepers" attitude to archaeological discoveries is only detrimental to our knowledge of those who went before us.
Archaeology for profit simply means that many important relics will disappear into private collections, never to be seen again.
I think one should be able to claim a treasure that is in international waters. It's theoretically "nowhere" so there aren't any laws. I sail with my family and we have met people that have already found some minor treasures on leisure dives. Good for them you know. But in the case that it was not actually lying in international waters, i think a greater part should go to the country and less to the finders, if they are foreign.
Of course if it should be expertised and if it's a very important historic relic, maybe be sold.
I also believe that treasures in international waters are more or less free to take.
But it has to be somehow protected whne it is inside the borders of the respective country.
The same can be said about historical lotings in any of the larger wars.
I would say as an archaeologist, sell it to a big museum so you do what IMO what you should do with artifacts AND you make money, no matter how little. But it's true, I don't want people "finding" artifacts and then just selling them to some rich guy like Bill Gates so he can have money and stick them around his mansion.
As a footnote, Bill Gates is giving away his entire fortune to the needy and leaving his kids with a million (or so) so if they want the billion dollar fortune, they have to work to make it themselves.
I believe in the finder's keeper's approach, atleast for items with no direct living owners or direct descendants that the items were "in writing" intentended for. If I find a chest of gold in the yard behind my house, why should the government be able to take it away and use it at gold backing for their debt? Until the government provides enough valuable services for every citizen, there is little for anyone, but politicians to gain from the government control of all things known or unknown within a country's borders. The government "west hemisphere, 1st world" was created with the intent of servicing it's people and has dominion over them so that the whole may prosper, but how does the whole prosper from this?
Wanna go Double Dutch?
9th December 2003
I think that both the nation a treasure was found in and the nation from where the treasure/artifact orginally orginated from should be able to claim the loot. That way anything of historical value could be put on display in an enviroment where it is best suited
If the objects are of archeological significance they definately belong in a museum, but when you find half a million silver coins I don't see why you shouldn't be able to at least keep the larger part of that.