BAR 38:03, May/Jun 2012
First Person: Relics vs. “Real” Archaeology
After President Lincoln was assassinated, his wife requested a lock of his hair. Others soon made the same request. So his physician clipped a number of small locks of the deceased president’s hair. According to a Washington Post article, one of these locks of hair, the size of an eyebrow, was recently donated to a Gettysburg museum.1 The estimated worth is between $30,000 and $50,000. The superintendent of the park is quoted as saying, “This is one of those special objects that gives you the chills when you see it.”
Not to some highfalutin professional archaeologists.
Relics have a bad name in “real” archaeology.