Sins of the Shovel: Looting, Murder, and the Evolution of American Archaeology

Product Details
$30.00  $27.90
University of Chicago Press
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.1 X 1.1 inches | 1.3 pounds

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About the Author
Rachel Morgan is an archaeologist working in the southeastern United States. She has published widely about historical archaeology and material culture.
"A timely consideration of the long, ugly relationship between scientists and Indigenous Americans--and how atonement informs the way archaeology operates today."-- "Chicago Tribune"
"This bold new Wild West story--complete with ranchers, sheriffs, and Indigenous inhabitants--offers a suspenseful account of how the hunt for artifacts in the American Southwest sparked a long and sometimes violent struggle over who would control the region's rich past. It's a story not so much about how the West was won as how it was lost--and it is a struggle that is far from over."--Andrew Lawler, author of 'The Secret Token: Myth, Obsession, and the Search for the Lost Colony of Roanoke'
"This captivating book introduces readers to the drama of American archaeology. The story includes fascinating characters, shady dealings, and significant discoveries connected to the discipline since the nineteenth century."--Samuel J. Redman, author of 'Prophets and Ghosts: The Story of Salvage Anthropology'
"Morgan focuses on the final days of America's Wild West, when pockets of the country remained unmapped--and regulations for protecting historical sites didn't exist. A colorful cast of archaeologists, anthropologists, crackpot scientists and hustlers descended into this vacuum, motivated in some cases by greed, in others by genuine--if misguided--curiosity about other civilizations. Friction between intruders and locals culminated in violence, which in turn led to renewed efforts to impose order on the chaos. Morgan tells the story with passion, indignation, and a dash of suspense."-- "New York Times"
"Morgan takes readers into the chaotic, controversial, and sometimes dark world of American archaeology in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The quasi-scientific work of amateur archaeologist Richard Wetherill, who spent his career excavating sites in the American Southwest, forms the core of her narrative. . . [But] her tour of the legal side of archaeology is informative and provides a good counterbalance to the drama of the Wetherill saga. This section also includes an excellent discussion of Indigenous archaeologists and the critical perspectives they bring to the field to help ensure that the days of wanton looting and pothunting never return."-- "Science"
"Morgan skillfully moves among the personalities and politics that led to the professionalization of archaeology in the US. From the shameless pillaging of abandoned sites to the enactment of federal laws regulating access to these remarkable places, it is a complex story filled with good guys, bad guys, and many in between, and it continues today."-- "Library Journal"
"An edifying examination of the early days of the science, as well as a look at its current state . . . [and] an incisive look at the birth of a field of study that continues to evolve."-- "Washington Independent Review of Books"
"An insightful examination of the colorful and controversial history of American archaeology. . . This animated account combines the saga of hardscrabble cowboy archaeologists with serious reflection on the incalculable damage of their activities. It's an entertaining and informative study."-- "Publishers Weekly"