Archaeology vs Grave Robbing

hey I'm Nate Fossum I'm a professional

archaeologist currently working in North

Texas and I specialized in the

archaeology of the indigenous peoples of

North America prior to the colonisation

by Europeans especially in what we call

the Eastern woodlands regional and I've

done so for more than ten years today I

want to talk about a meme that I gets in

on a fairly regular basis that ask the

question how old does something have to

be before it's archaeology instead of

grave-robbing and this kind of gets that

a couple of misconceptions about what

archaeology is and what we actually do

first off speaking for the United States

of America we have a law in place called

NAGPRA the North American graves

protection and repatriation act it was

passed in 1990 and this law means that

if I'm working on a site and I encounter

human remains that are found not to be

recent you know from a recent murder

victim said the jurisdiction over what

happens to those remains falls squarely

on the shoulders of federally recognized

tribes so I'm not allowed to touch those

remains unless I have the permission or

in more more appropriately the mandate

by some kind of tribal authority to do

so and when we do that those remains are

removed from the ground they are sent

back to the lab to have non-destructive

analysis done so basically a lot of

measurements and then they are returned

to that tribal authority and they will

go through whatever process of

repatriation to those remains that they

deem appropriate but the other thing is

that within North American or United

States archaeological law anything 50

years and older is considered


I will work on sites that I've worked on

sites in Cape Canaveral Florida where we

were looking for rocket parts from the

early space program because those are

now considered old enough to be part of

the archaeological record I'll be at the

recent archaeological record um that's

really all I have for this one I hope

you found that interesting and as always

thank you for watching