Artifacts Guide Store Artifacts Guide Forum
More Appreciation Should Be Shown Ancient Art

 

By Dustin Dowdy - March 2010
Thousands of years ago the humans that walked this earth lived a totally different but fascinating lifestyle. Their daily routines consisted of hunting, gathering and working to survive. Many of the tools that they created to live have long been destroyed. Some were broken in use, such as a long blade on the end of a spear or a pot that was “killed” in a ceremonial burial ritual. Today there are some survivors of this ancient time, but a perfect example that has made it through several thousand years of sand, water and storms is extremely rare. It is these examples of prehistoric art that I believe are very important to be preserved with public funds, after all, these pieces are some of the earliest examples of human design and workmanship.
            Whether or not many people are aware, there is a growing market for prehistoric artifacts in the United States. Many collectors buy, sell and trade these masterpieces at shows, online and in each other’s homes, much like an art collector would purchase a painting. The “rocks” are put under a microscope to verify completeness and authenticity and the most pristine and rare examples often bring thousands of dollars. This is not to say that such collection is wrong. On the contrary, the preservation of these ancient artifacts is a very respectable hobby that collects and protects the past of our country and ancestors. Artifactsguide.com is a website devoted entirely to the buying and selling of Indian artifacts and offers hundreds of “points”, tools and books for sale. The owner of the site, Kevin Dowdy is a  lifelong collector and is considered a regional expert on the pieces they buy and sell.  Kevin has co-authored and published a series of four books entitled, “Best of the Best” which shows the best examples of Indian artifacts from the deep south and offers an estimation of their values.  Dowdy's website states:
“We strive to bring you the best in arrowheads, spear points, knives, tools, axes, Celts, pottery, gorgets, plummets, bola stones, and polished stone from the Deep South (Georgia, Alabama, and Florida). We put our 20 plus years of experience to work for you, so you can be confident that the artifacts offered here are genuine prehistoric implements and we stand behind every item to be absolutely authentic. We also offer the ONLY Full color Indian Artifact Point and Identification Price Guide in the entire country in our Best Of The Best Series of Books. Since 1995, we have handled, inspected, and photographed over 300,000 Indian Artifacts submitted from the casual collector to the largest and most acclaimed collections in the entire S.E. United States. We take our experience and put it to work for you to insure that the artifacts we offer are 1) Genuine 2) Unaltered 3) A Value. You can rest assured the purchase you make with us, is a purchase in which you can have confidence”
 
Because of the demand for these precious works of art, the market has become subject to market
preferences. Rare examples of point types or stone tools bring more dollars at the selling table and are often subject to bidding wars. This type of market has experienced its ups and downs as well, much like any unnecessary expenditures have since the economic recession hit. However, just because these ups and downs have occurred, the desire to preserve the ancient past has remained the same among enthusiasts. 
            So, should this form of art and culture be subject to market preferences? Should public funds be used to preserve this ancient history? I think the overwhelming answer to both of these questions is “yes”. Without the work of collectors, this window into our past would have been lost years ago and it is time for the public funds we use to preserve other forms of history and art to be used to show off Indian artifacts. There are a few examples of public museums that store Indian artifacts such as the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. and the Cherokee Indian museum in Tennessee. However, these museums only show a few vague examples of rough tools and broken pottery, something that doesn’t even scratch the surface of what is available. The Native Americans that hunted the grounds we currently drive and live on were absolute craftsmen and masters of their trade. It is shameful that we preserve more modern history and show off masters of other trades, like the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown or the Louvre in Paris, but we haven’t shown the same respect to those whose land we currently “own”. 
            Now, how do arts non-profits deal with diverse markets and audiences? Simply put, by giving the people a quality product that captures their interests and ignites their imaginations as they visualize the tools being showcased and their makers thousands of years ago. There are multiple examples of museums that have been offered exquisite collections of Indian art free of charge, with the condition that the artifacts be displayed for the public to enjoy, only to turn the collector away because they don’t have room for them. If arts non-profits want to weather the economic storms, maintain their public funding and deal with diverse audiences, they need to accept such lavish gifts from private collectors and do these works of art some justice in their displays. A quality product, such as can be seen in many private collections would be a fascinating display to be enjoyed by people of all ages, sex and colors.
            While our public funds and non-profit museums and galleries work hard to showcase many fine examples of art, there is a void in this country when it comes to the masterpieces of the Native Americans. By providing public funds to preserve some of these creations and allowing the market place to function, these pieces can be preserved for the enjoyment of generations to come. Instead of creating roadblocks preventing collectors from picking up these artifacts, public funds should be offered to those who are willing to look for them and donate them to museums for the enjoyment of all and we should allow the current market place to continue to operate in the private collector’s world. By doing so, we can ensure that our past is adequately preserved in the future, after all, it is the private collectors that have done the only real preserving so far.
Dustin Dowdy, March 2010 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
0 items
Specializing In
Professional artifact appraisals and photography. We buy, sell, trade or take artifacts on consignment.

Please contact us