Back in 2013, the FBI found a 91-Year-Old real life Indiana Jones, who’d been collecting archaeological artifacts all over the world over the course of a long life, and who had assembled a gigantic personal collection.
Recent laws, of course, have pretty much banned amateur collecting (professionals with degrees were jealous) and there’ve been also “Feel-good” bills requiring the repatriation of things found buried in the ground to the kleptocrat rulers of the chauvinistic banana republics from which they originated or mandating the return of human bones to any Amerindian group claiming them as “ancestors.”
Miller’s huge collection consisted of all kinds of things having an enormous variety of origins, but that did not stop the FBI. They showed up with a 100-page search warrant, threatened the doddering old guy with jail-time, and persuaded him to allow them to take anything they chose.
They took away 2000 bones and 7000 artifacts, so many that they had to set up their own temperature-controlled facility to house the stuff. And then they spent the next seven years repatriating objects to places like China! and Haiti (whose officials were puzzled because nobody had ever repatriated anything to them before and they had no idea what to do with the stuff). G-men also toted off bones to highly-remotely-connected Indian tribes so that prayers and food offerings could equip the ghostly owners of aged bones for passage to the Happy Hunting Grounds.
There’s the modern regulatory, bureaucratic state in action for you. If it isn’t compulsory, it’s got to be illegal. And nothing is too good for any whining identity group or bad cause.
Vanity Fair indignantly calls the late Mr. Miller a “grave robber,” but so isn’t every archaeologist?
Slideshow of 44 examples from Don Miller’s Collection.