Federal agents, art experts and museum curators descended on the home of a 91-year-old man in central Indiana on Wednesday to take control of a huge collection of artifacts from Native American, Russian, Chinese and other cultures.
FBI Special Agent Robert Jones told reporters that the collection’s cultural value “is immeasurable,” reports RTV6 The Indy Channel.
While officials wouldn’t offer details about what they found, the Indianapolis Star reports that thousands of artifacts were seized. The Star adds that “an FBI command vehicle and several tents were spotted at the property in rural Waldron, about 35 miles southeast of Indianapolis.”
The man who apparently has been collecting artifacts for about eight decades is Don Miller. He has not been arrested or charged, according to news reports. The Star writes that:
“The items were found in a main residence, in which Miller lives; a second, unoccupied residence on the property; and in several outbuildings, Jones said. The town originally was Iroquois land. The objects were not stored to museum standards, Jones said, but it was apparent Miller had made an effort to maintain them well.
“The aim of the investigation is to determine what each artifact is, where it came from and how Miller obtained it, Jones said, to determine whether some of the items might be illegal to possess privately.”
Larry Zimmerman, a professor of anthropology and museum studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, tells the Star he has “never seen a collection like this in my life except in some of the largest museums.”
The local newspaper, the Rushville Republican, wrote a series of stories about Miller in 2007 in which he talked about his work in 1944 and 1945 with the group that tested detonators during development of the atomic bomb.