posted on Apr, 7 2014 @ 12:09 AM
My best guess would also be the Vatican. My reasoning would be that the screening process to get into their goodies is far more strict (I'm told,
never attempted it personally) than at the Smithsonian.
The Smithsonian requires a few letters behind your name and a research abstract. (Again, I'm told, not personal knowledge.)
As for all the stories of lost records, on that I can say from personal experience, it's very easy, especially in large institutions. But hey, I
have records of my own that are right here in my home----somewhere---I know they were deposited here when I moved here over 20 years ago but numerous
searches have yet to turn them up! Same with research I've done at the university, one student's carelessness can derail an entire project.
Negligence, theft, stupidity----we're dealing with 18-24 year-olds mostly----"Oh, yeah, I threw out that bag, it only had dirt in it." (A soil
sample plainly labeled as such from a now-destroyed site.) Need I say more?
When entire departments get moved---across the hall or across campus---all bets are off.
It is much the same for the old claims of "turned over to the Smithsonian" by the finder of this and that. Do you realize how easy it was to dupe
folks back in the day into believing you were "from the Smithsonian" when in reality you were a collector or exhibitor?
In doing research on the early days of the site where I worked for many years I interviewed several dozen people who had been employed there in the
early days. Several told me about men who had come to the site when the digging was being carried out claiming to represent the Smithsonian, asking
the owner to donate artifacts. Some offered to purchase or trade artifacts. Fortunately, the owner was fairly careful about making sure they were
who they claimed to be. Not to say that he didn't sell or trade artifacts, he did, but it was a common practice in those days. Museums did buy and
sell artifacts, even human remains. They also didn't require any records back then. Even in the 1930s when our site was excavated, there was
minimal record keeping of what was removed, even by the professionals at the University of Alabama. The actual owner of the site kept far more
records than the academics. The best records of that time were kept by the excavators of the University of Chicago when they did work on the site.
Those records still exist while we have only bits and pieces of the scant records kept by the U of A excavators.
All that's not to say that the Smithsonian doesn't have some secrets---I'm sure they do but for real, spooky stuff, my money's on the Vatican.
They have far more power and control over far more people than the Smithsonian could ever dream of having.
Just my two cents.
Great thread. Thanks.