Saturday, 21 July 2018

Collecting as 'Citizen Science'


'Citizen entomologists' are being recruited by the British Museum of Natural History and other organizations to take part in the Big Butterfly Count. The idea is to find 'productive' sites and get the butterflies, and using special killing jars turn them into collectable items, which (when they are stuck on pins and stored in cabinets) can be identified and arranged in an ephemeral personal collection. Any that are surplus will find a ready market among collectors through, for example, eBay. The more rare the species is, the more interesting, some finders are willing to donate specimens to museum collections.

Oh? They don't? They do not collect the butterflies, only look where they are and record their presence? So how would that be 'citizen science' then? Bonkers, no?

Vignette: A British collection

Friday, 20 July 2018

Libya recovers antiquities from the United States


At a ceremony at Libya's embassy in Washington was a ceremony in which several pots 'antiquities of Germanic Civilization'(Vandals?) from Libya were returned (AbdulkaderAssad, 'Libya recovers antiquities from the UnitedStates  Libya Obsewrver July 19, 2018)
The Libyan ambassador Wafaa Bugaages said on the embassy's website that the recovery of the antiquities was very significant as they are a vital part of the history of Libya and humankind as a whole. The ambassador thanked the US government and State Department as well as the Department of the Interior for their cooperation with Libyan authorities. The antiquities were returned by a US citizen who has been keeping them since the 1960s. Libya signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the US last February in order to cooperate in returning smuggled and stolen antiquities to Libya. 
 - 

Nepal: Time to STOP the 'Great Plunder'


Al Jazeera Investigating how antiquities stolen from the Himalayas end up in museums and private collections around the world ('Nepal: The Great Plunder' 19 Jul 2018)
On the global art market, Himalayan statues of religious deities fetch millions of dollars. But to the Nepalese, they are living gods who have been stolen from their communities. In this exclusive Al Jazeera investigation, 101 East senior presenter and reporter Steve Chao takes viewers on a breathtaking journey across the Himalayas, to reveal how the art world's hunger for ancient artefacts is destroying a centuries-old culture. As he seeks to expose the international black market in religious treasures, Chao travels across Nepal from its capital Kathmandu to remote and ancient Buddhist temples in Mustang. Since the 1980s, authorities estimate thieves have plundered tens of thousands of Nepalese antiquities. About 80 percent of the countries religious artefacts have been stolen and sold into the $8bn-a-year illegal black market in art. But as 101 East discovers, the Nepalese are now taking a stand and demanding a stop to the plunder of their greatest treasures. Local guide Tashi Bista says the thefts are hurting communities and their ability to worship. "When thieves look at our centuries-old statues and deities, they see millions of dollars of profit. To us, they are living, breathing gods," he says. "The thieves are destroying an ancient way of life for us." Posing as a prospective buyer, Steve Chao goes undercover to meet black market art dealers and learn how they bribe officials to falsify papers so that they can export antiques from Nepal. After showing his undercover filming to Nepalese police, Chao helps authorities conduct a sting on some of the country's most prominent antique dealers, leading to their arrests. Set against a stunning natural backdrop, this is the story of how treasures from an ancient time are being stolen and sold to the highest bidder, leaving a culture in peril.
And here are some of them right now on sale on eBay, when will it STOP?

Monday, 16 July 2018

Metal Detectors on Sale in the UK Right Now


for sale
eBay, right now, 'item location, UK only': 986 results (New 836, Used 141, For parts or not working 9). Of these 38 are kiddies detector toys.

Brands available today: New
Garrett (82 items)  Minelab (37 items) XP (33 items) Bounty Hunter (20 items) C.Scope (19 items)   Tesoro (12 items)  Viewee (11 items) Seben (11 items) White's Electronics (10 items) Makro (10 items) Nokta (9 items) Wildgame Innovations (9 items) Treasure Hunter (8 items) Golden Mask (8 items) Homcom (5 items) Fisher (1 item) Unbranded (88 items)   Not specified (460 items)

Brands available today Used:
 Garrett (32 items) C.Scope (13 items) Minelab (12 items) Tesoro (10 items) White's Electronics (8 items) XP (5 items)  Bounty Hunter (4 items)  Teknetics (4 items) OKM (3 items) Fisher (1 item) Makro (1 item) Nokta (1 item) Seben (1 item)  Treasure Hunter (1 item) Viking (1 item) Unbranded (5 items) Not specified (48 items) 

The fact that UK dealers alone are offering (so have the expectation of selling) 930 metal detectors in one week/month suggests that there are a fair number of potential customers in the UK - bearing in mind that many metal detectors are also sold in brick-and-mortar venues (as well as at rallies etc).  How many?

What is interesting is that in British antiquities, sold from the UK alone, there are only 367 'metal detecting finds' auctions, some bulk lots. Many of them however do not look like actual metal detecting finds from fields (as opposed to finds from 'antique-tat'  and charity shops).  

Sunday, 15 July 2018

A Revised Artefact Erosion Counter



The Counter should be treated 
seriously. The depletion and information
loss due to legal artefact hunting appears to be
on a far g
reater scale than the public is being told.

Heritage Action 2006

The implications of Sam Hardy's published figures for the Heritage Action artefact Erosion Counter: one recordable artefact pocketed every 12.76 seconds by 'licit' detecting alone since the beginning of the PAS.


And 'how many' of them did the PAS say they've recorded?  This is the elephant in the room ignored by the Ixelles Six /Helsinki Gang of academic apologists for artefact hunting and collecting.

Six academics distracted from what is important (Mark Bryan)
Now we have new and as yet unfalsified published figures available, let us see just how much of a deliberate underestimate the much-maligned (by artefact collectors and their supporters) Heritage Action Artefact Erosion Counter  actually represented. I started this counter at midnight of 15th July 2018. The 'since the start of the Portable Antiquities Scheme' starting figure then was 6,260,328.


counter by POWr editor

How Many 'Metal Detectorists' are there in England and Wales?


The Ixelles Six /Helsinki Gang debacle got me thinking about the data they were trying to ignore. For the past two years I had been struggling with the implications of some of Sam Hardy's recent research and the numbers he came up with. I have long asked the question concerning the scale of Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record as the only true background against which to measure the incessant 'propaganda of success' of the PAS and its supporters. They saw 'x000' more metal detectorists than a few years ago, and got 'y000' more artefacts in their database, all well and good, but to what degree are these figures representing any true mitigation of the information loss?

Back then (first years of the 21st century), there were some wild estimates of overall 'metal detectorist numbers', but nothing concrete. So I began to look into it. The figure I came up with in 2003 was quite a low one, 10000, with just over a thousand in Scotland. That was the basis for the figures used in the Heritage Action Artefact Erosion Counter. About 2010, I was forced to reassess that original estimate, it seemed to me that by that time the number had probably gone up to 16000 (Thomas 2012, 58-9 has a similar estimate), and I ascribed this to the PAS popularising the hobby through their support and promotion. That's when I really began to see the PAS as having a totally negative influence on the very problem that they had been set up to solve.

In 2011, the NCMD was claiming there were around 20000 metal detectorists in the UK. By 2015 the NCMD estimate appears to have risen to 25000 (see here and here), which I was inclined to dismiss at the time. But then in 2017 Sam Hardy produced his figures of 27000 'metal detectorists' (in England and Wales) and another 1000+ in Scotland. I must admit, though I thought his methods were sound and the figures he was using were the best available at the time, I really was a bit sceptical of such high numbers. Until I sketched a graph out. The two lower-left points are my own estimate, the three on the right are the NCMD's and Dr Hardy's. They seem to work together quite convincingly to tell a story of expansion of this damaging hobby on the PAS's watch. What however has not increased by the same degree is the proportion of the finds they are currently making being recorded in the public domain.

The implications of these figures would seem to be that the increase may have been of the order of 17000 more detectorists' in 17 years. That is that while PAS has been legitimising and promoting Collection-Driven Exploitation of the archaeological record, numbers of metal detector-using artefact hunters have been quite steadily rising by 1000 a year.  We have no statistics on the number of scattered ephemeral private artefact collections formed in the UK at the same time.

At what stage are Britain's heritage professionals going to get up off their complacent jobsworth arses and stop shoulder-shrugging and do something about this other than just smile and pat the collectors on the head?

UK Metal Detecting: The Blogs


With some 27000 of them in England and Wales alone, according to Sam Hardy, it is interesting to note how few metal detector using artefact hunters ('passionately interested in history') are actually blogging about that passion. Seeing as their discussions on forums demonstrate that few of them can  cope with texts longer than seven sentences anyway, perhaps that is not surprising. If anyone would like me to add any they know of, please comment.

Addicted to Bleeps (discontinued?) Kris Rodgers
Andy's treasure hunting cafe and metal detecting blog Andy Baines
Aurelia's Metal Detecting, One Woman and her Deus
Detecting and Collecting John Howland
Digging History/Detecting Blackpool (Discontinued)
Janner53`s Metal Detecting Blog (invited readers only)
John Brassey Notes from Retirement
John Winter John Winter
The Daily Detectorist (discontinued)
The Detectorist Metal Detector Reviews Site
The Ogley Dirt Farmer wozelbeak, 



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