Archaeology as a profession faces two major problems. First, it is the poorest of the poor. Only paltry sums are available for excavating and even less is available for publishing the results and preserving the sites once excavated. Yet archaeologists deal with priceless objects every day. Second, there is the problem of illegal excavation, resulting in museum-quality pieces being sold to the highest bidder.
I would like to make an outrageous suggestion that would at one stroke provide funds for archaeology and reduce the amount of illegal digging. I would propose that scientific archeological expeditions and governmental authorities sell excavated artifacts on the open market. Such sales would provide substantial funds for the excavation and preservation of archaeological sites and the publication of results. At the same time, they would break the illegal excavator’s grip on the market, thereby decreasing the inducement to engage in illegal activities.
You might object that professionals excavate to acquire knowledge, not money. Moreover, ancient artifacts are part of our global cultural heritage, which should be available for all to appreciate, not sold to the highest bidder. I agree. Sell nothing that has unique artistic merit or scientific value. But, you might reply, everything that comes out of the ground has scientific value. Here we part company. Theoretically, you may be correct in claiming that every artifact has potential scientific value. Practically, you are wrong.
I refer to the thousands of pottery vessels and ancient lamps that are essentially duplicates of one another. In one small excavation in Cyprus, archaeologists recently uncovered 2,000 virtually indistinguishable small jugs in a single courtyard. Even precious royal seal impressions known as melekh handles have been found in abundance — more than 4,000 examples so far.
The basements of museums are simply not large enough to store the artifacts that are likely to be discovered in the future. There is not enough money even to catalogue the finds; as a result, they cannot be found again and become as inaccessible as if they had never been discovered. Indeed, with the help of a computer, sold artifacts could be more accessible than are the pieces stored in bulging museum basements. Prior to sale, each could be photographed and the list of the purchasers could be maintained on the computer. A purchaser could even be required to agree to return the piece if it should become needed for scientific purposes.
It would be unrealistic to suggest that illegal digging would stop if artifacts were sold on the open market. But the demand for the clandestine product would be substantially reduced. Who would want an unmarked pot when another was available whose provenance was known, and that was dated stratigraphically by the professional archaeologist who excavated it?
1. The primary purpose of the text is to propose
[A] an alternative to museum display of artifacts.
[B] a way to curb illegal digging while benefiting the archaeological profession.
[C] a way to distinguish artifacts with scientific value from those that have no such value.
[D] the governmental regulation of archaeological sites.
2. Which of the following is mentioned in the text as a disadvantage of storing artifacts in museum basements?
[A] Museum officials rarely allow scholars access to such artifacts.
[B] Space that could be better used for display is taken up for storage.
[C] Artifacts discovered in one excavation often become separated from each other.
[D] Such artifacts’ often remain uncatalogued and thus cannot be located once they are put in storage.
3. The author mentions the excavation in Cyprus (line 2, paragraph 4) to emphasize which of the following points?
[A] Ancient lamps and pottery vessels are less valuable, although more rare, than royal seal impressions.
[B] Artifacts that are very similar to each other present cataloguing difficulties to archaeologists.
[C] Artifacts that are not uniquely valuable, and therefore could be sold, are available in large quantities.
[D] Cyprus is the most important location for unearthing large quantities of salable artifacts.
4. The author’s argument concerning the effect of the official sale of duplicate artifacts on illegal excavation is based on which of the following assumptions?
[A] Prospective purchasers would prefer to buy authenticated artifacts.
[B] The price of illegally excavated artifacts would rise.
[C] Computers could be used to trace sold artifacts.
[D] Illegal excavators would be forced to sell only duplicate artifacts.
5. The author anticipates which of the following initial denials of his proposal?
[A] Museum officials will become unwilling to store artifacts.
[B] An oversupply of salable artifacts will result and the demand for them will fall.
[C] Artifacts that would have been displayed in public places will be sold to private collectors.
[D] Illegal excavators will have an even larger supply of artifacts for resale.
【考点解析】这是一道审题定位题。本题题干并没有明确暗示本题的答案信息来源在原文的位置。这是一道较难的试题。但是敏感的考生会根据题干中的“the official sale of duplicate artifacts on illegal excavation”将本的答案信息来源确定在尾段，因为尾段的第一句含有“artifacts were sold on the open market”。尾段的第二句就是题干中所涉及的“effect”。尾段的最后一句就是本题要求考生所寻找出的“assumptions”。可见本题的正确选项应该是强调“authenticated”(被证实，被鉴定的)一词的选项A。考生在解题时一定要善于迅速审题定位，更要善于归纳和推导原文的内容。