In his book Finders Keepers: A Tale of Archaeological Plunder and Obsession, naturalist and adventurer Craig Childs explores the modern dilemma of artifact collection by archaeologists, museums, and private collectors. With nearly 5 billion artifacts currently in public trust — and an untold number held legally and illegally in private collections — Childs wonders if leaving objects where they are found on public lands might be better than digging them up and squirreling them away in museum basements (and suburban living rooms). The 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act forces many to think twice before slipping a potsherd into their pocket, but there’s a difference between thinking and doing in the presence of a rare, ancient object.
Questions of ownership are difficult to answer, and Childs believes a crisis of conscience among collectors can be averted if things are left where they are. At 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 25, Southwest Seminars presents “Finders Keepers: A Journey Through the Underworld of the Ancient Artifact Culture,” a talk by Childs at Hotel Santa Fe (1501 Paseo de Peralta) in conjunction with the nonprofit cultural organization’s annual Mother Earth Father Sky lecture series. Admission to the lecture is $12 at the door. Call 466-2775 for information.