Archaeologists don't dig Anasazi Digs. The
family-owned business on private land near Monticello, Utah,
invites customers to excavate - and keep - artifacts from an
Anasazi pueblo for $2,500 a day.
owning a Van Gogh painting and cutting it into lots of pieces,"
says Utah state archaeologist Kevin Jones. "The owner could do it,
but it wouldn't be very ethical."
ruins sit on private land, Utah laws prohibiting excavation of
antiquities do not apply. Howard Ransdell, a welder and
grape-grower whose family has owned the land for nearly 50 years,
says he started Anasazi Digs in the hopes of preserving artifacts
that would otherwise erode into the banks of a nearby creek. "It
was a matter of conservation, not of arbitrarily destroying Indian
ruins," he says.
Though the business has been
open for several months, Ransdell reports no customers so far. And
both Ransdell and Jones predict that once the digging begins, human
remains will surface, in which case stringent state burial laws
Even if burial laws don't stop
excavation, the business may yet become an artifact: Ransdell has
offered to sell the property to the Archaeological Conservancy.
Cost disagreements have postponed a sale, but the Conservancy's
southwest director, Jim Walker, remains optimistic that "with time
and patience, this particular project will end up in the hands of
someone who's interested in preserving it."