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An Archeological Curation-Needs Assessment for the U.S. Navy, Engineering Field Activities, West and Northwest, Naval Facilities Engineering Command.

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Technical rept. no. 9,

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Federal archeological collections and associated documentation are priceless national resources, a legacy to the American public. Their care and conservation has been mandated by Congress since 1906. Unfortunately, the proper care and management of these materials has been largely ignored or underfunded. Many of our nations heritage resources have been placed and then abandoned in the attics, basements, and storage closets of countless facilities across the United States. Others have been illegally transported to Europe, where they remain today. The result has been a steady deterioration of the collections, which include many significant objects associated with long vanished cultures as well as existing Native American communities. Federally sponsored mitigation programs usually provide for the recovery of materials from archeological sites, analyses of the recovered items, publication and circulation of final reports, and placement of collections in storage facilities for preservation, display, or future study. In the past, federal agencies gave little attention to the maintenance of collections once salvage programs were completed. Through the years, archeological collections were curated at no expense to the federal government by the various universities, museums, firms, and state repositories holding them. Unfortunately, the lack of funding and inadequate facilities now seriously hinder these institutions ability to adequately care for the collections. Standards and guidelines for the preservation of federal archeological collections are set forth in 36 CFR Part 79, Curation of Federally-Owned and Administered Archeological Collections. However, the preservation and management procedures for many federal archeological collections are demonstrably substandard, clearly falling below the standards and guidelines required of federal agencies.

Subject Categories:

  • Humanities and History

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