I thought I’d change it up this week and respond to a question about my post – should be different!
I think the obvious answer is that these men didn’t care about altering cultural material but I don’t think that is the correct one. I want to think that, during their time, these sorts of discoveries weren’t as unique or special or they simply didn’t understand how magnificent / important we would view them in the future. I doubt that they were aware that their actions would deliberately change how we view those materials today or that we would remember them today the way we do. I feel like I’m having trouble putting this into words, but something along the lines of ‘they didn’t want to mess up anything or cause a problem, or didn’t think it would be a problem in the future.’ Something like that, I guess?
Your second question is really interesting too – it is making me think a lot. Part of me wants to say that our technology of archaeology and ethics behind digs evolved separately, meaning that if we didn’t have the technology we did today then we would still refrain from altering artifacts and sites. However, that is impossible to tell and I think it would still fully be possible for archaeologists to alter them today if they really wanted to. Thanks for asking these questions, they are really something to think about!