Missouri's untold story: State Capitol and museum host archaeological exhibition
JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri State Museum dug up pieces of history to share the importance of protecting what’s left beneath the dirt.
Missouri State Historic Preservation Office archaeologist Heather Gibbs lectured at the Capitol Saturday on the impact of looting artifacts and their role in preserving Missouri’s history. The event was held in conjunction with the opening of two new exhibits that feature the implications of looting - "Looting, Hoarding, and Collecting" and "Diggin’ for Shinies!."
Gibbs talked about the legal and ethical impacts of taking pieces of the past home in your pocket. Although artifacts found on private property belong to the owner, Gibbs says these nonrenewable cultural and natural resources are vital for helping researchers understand human history across the state.
Director of Missouri State Museum Tiffany Patterson says archeology tells Missouri’s untold story.
“This is the only way we really know and understand the people that came before European contact,” said Patterson.
After the 2 p.m. lecture, excavation pieces and interactive displays were featured at the Rozier Gallery nearby. Refreshments and snacks were also provided for museum attendees.
Curator of Exhibitions for the Missouri State Museum Sydney Johnson explained the “Dig or not to Dig?” dilemma and why removing artifacts from their natural landscape can harm archaeological research.
“It’s the ethical dilemma many citizens often encounter when they find a cool arrowhead or animal bone. Should I pick it up? Should I leave it? … Really just that tug and pull between what is okay and ethically implicated from removing something from the landscape,” Johnson said.
The most common finds in Missouri are arrowheads, pottery shards, animal bones and projectile points.
Patterson also says it’s important to tell archaeologists about any discoveries so researchers can build that into their existing knowledge. People who discover artifacts can report their finds to the Missouri State Historic Preservation Office in Jefferson City.