Utah Archaeologist Denounces Auctioning Ancient Skull

Utah Archaeologist Denounces Auctioning Ancient Skull

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- State archaeologist Kevin Jones wants authorities to check into the legality of a northern Utah collector's posting of a purported Inca skull for auction on the Internet.

Gilmer Brush of Plain City posted the ad for the male skull on eBay. He said he had sold at least three other skulls on the Internet and didn't understand the stir this one has caused.

"I'm at a loss as to what has happened. I listed an Inca skull on eBay and all of a sudden the world came apart," Brush said.

Five humans skulls were listed on eBay Monday evening, ranging in price from $202 to $350. All were advertised as once being used as medical teaching aids.

Brush, who collects ancient American Indian and other artifacts, described his as a very rare Inca skull in excellent condition with what he described as an "obsidian projectile tip" in the forehead that could have caused death.

The seller, Brush said, represented the skull as coming from the personal collection of a University of Utah anthropologist. But Jones said the now-deceased professor did not collect human remains and would have abhorred their sale.

Jones declined to discuss details of this case.

"We hate to see people sell human bones in any form," he said.

Brush doesn't believe he did anything wrong in attempting to sell the skull. He doesn't believe the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) applies because the Incas did not live in the United States.

NAGPRA was passed by Congress in response to growing concerns among American Indian tribes that their ancestral graves and funerary objects were being desecrated.

"I'm not the type of person to go around desecrating graves," Brush said.

Still, he expects a visit from authorities.

"They'll probably take away everything in my collection and put me jail," he said.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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