Treasure hunting and archeology are two activities that may appear similar at first glance. After all, they both involve looking for lost items, often in remote areas. However, upon further inspection, the two have several notable differences.
For one, the motivations behind treasure hunting and archeology differ greatly. While treasure hunters are searching for valuable items to keep or sell, archeologists seek to uncover intangible knowledge about past civilizations and cultures.
Treasure hunting and archeology are different activities that involve searching for artifacts or historical items but with different purposes and methods.
Treasure hunting involves searching for valuable items or artifacts to keep or sell for profit. Treasure hunters typically use metal detectors or other equipment to locate objects that may be of value.
Archaeology, conversely, is the scientific study of past human societies and their cultures by analyzing material remains, such as artifacts, structures, and human remains. Archaeologists use systematic methods and techniques to uncover and document these remains to understand the past’s cultural, social, and historical context.
The main difference between treasure hunting and archaeology is the purpose and approach. Treasure hunting is focused on finding valuable items for personal gain, while archaeology is focused on the scientific study of the past for educational and historical purposes. Additionally, archaeologists follow strict ethical and legal guidelines and often work with local communities and authorities to ensure that artifacts and remains are properly excavated, documented, and preserved for future generations.
Furthermore, the two activities have different processes and require different skill sets. Treasure hunters rely on luck and intuition, while archeologists must use scientific methods to uncover and preserve artifacts of historical significance.
Ultimately, treasure hunting and archeology are two distinct activities that, while similar in some ways, are very different in practice.
Motivations of Treasure Hunting vs. Archeology
Treasure hunters are driven by their desire to find valuable items and collect them. Treasure hunters often find themselves at the center of media attention, landing in the news for finding priceless artifacts or attempting to recover millions in gold.
Some of the most famous stories of treasure hunting involve Florida’s legendary “sunken treasure,” the 19th-century shipwreck of the SS Central America, and the discovery of the New Zealand Maori Koru gold coins.
While these tales of discoveries make treasure hunting look exciting and lucrative, the fact is that most treasure hunters never find anything of value. Treasure hunters are often very secretive about the locations where they find their treasure.
This is because the law in the U.S. and most countries worldwide allow anyone who finds something of value to keep that item regardless of its provenance. Archeologists are driven by the desire to uncover and preserve knowledge about historical cultures.
They are also driven by the desire to protect the places where artifacts are found from harm. This is because archeologists know the damage that can be done if appropriate methods are not used during exploration.
Process of Treasure Hunting vs. Archeology
Treasure Hunting – Treasure hunters typically search for gold or silver coins, jewelry, relics, or other valuable items. They are often very secretive about the places they search, so they can keep the items they find. The first step in successful treasure hunting is to find a good spot to search.
A good place will be remote, have an undisturbed soil surface, and contain the items you want. Once you’ve found a promising location to search, you’ll want to carefully dig up a small portion of the surface to search for items. If you find something valuable, you’ll have to decide whether to keep or report it.
Archeology – Archeologists explore places with historical significance. Examples include ancient temples, burial grounds, and settlements. They excavate the surface of these places and carefully dig up artifacts. After being removed from the ground, artifacts are carefully preserved and documented. Eventually, they are put on display at museums.
Skills and Tools Used in Treasure Hunting vs. Archeology
Treasure Hunters – Treasure hunters often use metal detectors to find coins or other metallic items buried in the ground. They also use hand tools like shovels to dig up clay or sand containing buried items. Often, it’s the metal detector that helps in finding buried treasures.
However, digging is a necessary step in unearthing them. Soil composition is also essential for successful treasure hunting. Clay and sandy soils are more common in areas where buried treasure is more likely to be found near rivers, lakes, or oceans. Treasure hunters also use a map and compass to determine the best areas to search.
Archeologists – Archeologists use many tools to excavate and dig up artifacts carefully. They often use brushes, trowels, and other hand tools to carefully remove an area’s surface. They may also use tools that suck up the surface, like vacuum cleaners.
Finally, archeologists use cameras to take detailed photographs of items found on the ground. They use a grid system as a measurement to make sure they don’t miss anything.
Impact of Treasure Hunting on Historical Sites
Treasure hunters may damage or destroy historical sites with their digging. This can happen if they use improper excavation techniques. These can harm the structure of the site and damage artifacts that are present there.
Digging without the proper permits or permissions can also be a problem, as it can disrupt the lives of locals who live near such sites. Treasure hunters also risk exposure to deadly pathogens that may be present in the soil of specific historical sites. This is particularly true for sites in tropical regions where deadly diseases are most common.
Impact of Archeology on Historical Sites
While these activities often appear similar at first glance, archeology involves a much more thorough and detailed process than treasure hunting. By taking a detailed approach to excavation, archeologists can learn much about the culture that left behind artifacts found in the ground.
Furthermore, careful excavation allows archeologists to preserve artifacts for the future, ensuring that descendants can learn from the cultures that came before them. Surface collecting, a technique that treasures hunters sometimes use, can destroy artifacts.
When items such as pottery are taken out of the ground, they are often broken. This can make it difficult to learn from historical artifacts.
Comparison of Findings from Treasure Hunting and Archeology
Treasure Hunting – Treasure hunting is often done in secrecy, so it can be challenging to determine what treasures have been recovered. Many tales of immense finds most often associated with treasure hunting are likely fabrications.
While some treasure hunters find valuable items such as coins, most people searching for treasure never find anything of value.
Archeology – Archeology often involves the meticulous excavation of entire sites and the discovery of many artifacts. This allows archeologists to gain a detailed picture of the past and learn about people’s lives in other cultures.
Since careful excavation is an integral part of archeology, the artifacts found at these sites are generally preserved for the future.
Treasure hunting and archeology are two distinct activities that, while similar in some ways, are very different in practice. Treasure hunters are driven by their desire to find valuable items and collect them. They often search for coins, jewelry, relics, or other valuable items.
Archeologists are driven by the desire to uncover and preserve knowledge about historical cultures. They are also driven by the desire to protect the places where artifacts are found from harm. These two activities have different processes and require different skill sets.
Treasure hunters are often very secretive about the places they search, while archeologists use careful excavation techniques to learn about historical cultures.