Tuesday, 28 February 2017

More Institutional Dumbdown Finds Gatekeeping




and that's fine by us because we can do dumbdown with it....

of course there IS a link to a fuller discussion of the function of Roman period bronze vessels so the public can learn what archaeologists have found out about them from the ones found in context. Isn't there? It'd be a bit pointless as a museum's public outreach without one.  Without it, it would be merely bragging about trophy items like any collector.




Sunday, 26 February 2017

Archaeologists freed in Nigeria


The two Germans, professor Peter Breunig and student Johannes Behringer, had been abducted on Wednesday during excavation work at Jajela village in Kaduna state. Two excavation workers, Anas Ibrahim and  Adamu Abdulrahim, were shot and killed during the abduction. No ransom was paid.

Iraq works to Reclaim Heritage from ISIL

Fragment of an Assyrian-era relief shows the image of a
genie holding a pine cone at the ancient site of Nimrud that
was destroyed by Islamic State group militants near
Mosul, Iraq. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

At a two-day UNESCO conference, Iraqi officials are asking for money and expertise to reclaim the cultural heritage that is on the verge of complete destruction by ISIL (Iraq hopes to reclaim heritage lost to Islamic State group).
Iraqi Vice Minister of Culture Qais Hussein Rasheed says he hopes the liberation of Mosul's airport will soon reveal what has become of the vast areas across the river that IS has held for over two years. Rasheed says Iraqi forces have found in areas already liberated tunnels where extremists stashed looted artifacts with plans to sell them.

Prawda

Scottish Treasure Discovery: Local Versus 'National' Heritage?


Here is an interesting heritage debate brewing: New campaign backs Galloway Viking treasure bid BBC 22 February 2017. This is about that mid-ninth or tenth century hoard of more than 100 gold and silver objects found by Ayreshire artefact hunter Derek McLennan at an undisclosed location on pastureland owned by the Church of Scotland.
A new campaign is backing a bid to see a Viking treasure hoard discovered in Dumfries and Galloway go on display in the region. The Galloway Viking Hoard Campaign (GVHC) wants to see the items put in a new Kirkcudbright art gallery. Dumfries and Galloway Council is attempting to secure the treasure for the region. The GVHC said it was concerned a bid by National Museums Scotland could see the items end up in Edinburgh. The final decision on where the artefacts are diplayed lies with the Treasure Trove Panel. Cathy Agnew, who chairs the campaign which launched this week, said:
"This is a time for Scotland to take the lead. The Galloway Viking hoard is quite extraordinary and should have pride of place in a specially created exhibition space in the new Kirkcudbright art gallery. Remarkable finds have so often been whisked away from the communities where they were discovered only to become a small feature in a large national museum. This is a very old-fashioned approach and in 2017 we should be making sure that regions fully benefit from their cultural riches."
She said the collection could be a "powerful magnet" to bring in visitors. David Devereux, GVHC vice chair, said: "Some of the items in the hoard are of breathtaking beauty and could become icons for the region, spurring people across the world to discover more about its distinctive past - and the people, lives, cultures and kingdoms that existed before Scotland was born." [...] National Museums Scotland has described the find as of "considerable national and international significance". It said that if it acquired the hoard it would save it for the nation and ensure it was seen by "people from Scotland, the rest of the UK and internationally".

Ai Weiwei - Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, 1995.



Ai Weiwei - Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, 1995.
Posted on You Tube by vabethany

Raises the question about how we could protest British policies on and lack of public debate on the collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record. Ideas?

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Kevin Leahy on the PAS


Kevin Leahy spoke at the Current Archaeology event yesterday, he was supposed to present an assessment of 'Twenty years of the Portable Antiquities Scheme' which seems a great opportunity to make some substantive points. Here is my reply to somebody who wrote to me about it afterwards (work out the context yourselves):


Hi, I am not sure where you think he ‘diverged from the party line’, it was surely the same old, same old crap. That talk would basically have looked the same in 2003 in its basic aspects. 
The ‘achievements’ presented are object-centred kossinnist retro-culture-historical archaeology.  I note with amusement how he dropped the tone of his voice reverentially whenever he quoted a big number. Its all about numbers innit? The ethics of collecting is nowhere touched upon.  I note that he says that commercial artefact hunting rallies are a ‘nightmare’,  not because of the issues related to commercial collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record but because of the work involved in FLOs getting to all the finders in time. 
What a cheek mentioning the Lenborough hoard in such a context without commenting on how it was dug by the FLO (and tipped out on a tabletop) and then a bit later discussing the Frome one and the prehistoric hoards and gaily mentioning that they are ‘structured’ and should be recorded accordingly.  I noted that there was a total lack of a critical approach to themselves – totally in character for the Bloomsbury boyz, sadly.
This was all very revealing about the intellectual fruits of twenty years liaison with collectors – I would say small berries rather than water melons. He says we should be ‘grown up’ and wait longer for us to ‘get there’ – hmm. Twenty years of a failed social experiment is not enough to see where it is going? As an archaeological presentation, pretty annoying fluffy spin – as usual from the dumbdown PAS.

Paul
 
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