The new television series American Digger, set to premiere on Spike TV on March 20, and the series Diggers on the National Geographic Channel, are stirring up concern among the archaeological community. Archaeologists allege these shows encourage unsupervised excavation of sites. The premise of American Digger is to “scour target-rich areas such as battlefields and historic sites in hopes of unearthing and selling rare pieces of American history.” The American Savage team, a private artifact recovery company based in Mechanicsville, Virginia and led by former professional wrestler Ric Savage, uncover a 17th century naval cannon, a 19th century Kentucky long rifle and a 5 million year old shark tooth, among other historical and cultural treasures. Online petitions, blogs and even a Facebook page have been created in protest of the show’s premiere.
Professional organizations such as the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA), the Society for American Archaeology (SAA), the National Association for State Archaeologists (NASA) and the Register of Professional Archaeologists (RPA) have all sent letters to the National Geographic Society in an effort to get the network to highlight the ethical shortcomings of haphazard “treasure hunting.” National Geographic has since indicated they will place a disclaimer in the show’s opening to affirm that there are laws in place protecting archaeological and historic sites.