I’m a fairly new subscriber to Archaeology, which is a pretty cool magazine. It cost $22 for a one year subscription (6 bi-monthly issues). Archaeology has stories various aspect of archaeological discoveries – the culture of the society that left the artifacts, the mechanics of the digs, and even stories about artifact trafficking. My interest in crime causes me to get sucked into the trafficking articles.

The March/April edition has a story about artifact thieves in the southwestern US. There is a lot of federal land in this part of the country. It is illegal to take artifacts from federal land, but much of this land is pretty remote, resulting in the agents from the Bureau of Land Management being stretched pretty thin in their efforts to catch thieves.

There is a new breed of artifact thieves who seem to enjoy the task of searching for artifacts – a process that involves digging holes, scanning the ground closely for artifacts, and repeating the process over and over. It is hard, tedious work.

These thieves are receiving some help, though. The are meth users, and the drug gives them a lot of energy (great when you need to dig a bunch of holes) and also the intense concentration to comb for the artifacts.

The users take the artifacts they find, and trade them to their dealer in exchange for more meth. The dealers then turn around and sell the artifacts for a nice profit. Essentially, the meth dealers in the southwest are financing (with meth) a massive theft of government property. Artifacts that could be in museums, educating everyone about the cultures of the past, end up in a private collection.

Subjects for upcoming blog articles will include:

Reviews of TV shows Monk and Psych

NASCAR brand disloyalty

The best baseball sites

Profile of author Lawrence Block