Thursday, 26 November 2020

LGD's Killagranny Weekend Event Goes Ahead

In the sleepy rural backwater Killagranny, next to the medieval town of Selfish a grammatically-challenged commercial dig organiser is irresponsibly trying to get members to pay up:
Paul Lgd Howard (Admin)
Good evening members, Just a heads up our annual Christmas rally is going to fill fast this year as i know theirs a lot of ppl who was in tier (3) thinking they wouldn’t be allowed to attend but now it’s looking like it might be possible all tiers can attend, we will now more Thursday.

I'll just post this up, note what it says about travel:

I am not sure what the logic is in thinking people from "medium alert" and "high alert" areas can meet in a "very high alert" region without travelling. But then, I'm not a metal detectorist. 

Monday, 23 November 2020

UK Poszukiwacz "Gutted" to lose "his" Permission

From a metal detecting facebook page near you Adam Kolakowski 24/11/2020:

Researching history of my best giving fields just find proposal from big USA company to turn them in to gravel pits... #Gutted PS. Local council is trying to challenge them... How can I save my permission and save history?? Good advices are much welcome
The question is of course how much of that "best giving" found its way to the SMR when the planning permission was being sought? How much of the archaeology of the site(s) having served for some time as Mr Kolakowski's best pocket-filler survives his depredations in a state sufficiently intact to merit an investigation or protection? Why, anyway, is the site being researched only after he's emptied a lot of it into his pockets and not beforehand to establish some sort of programme for the serching? Saving history, when it is written only in the archaeological record, is more than some random bloke taking a spade to it and pocketing a few loose pieces of it that he fancies for his collection.

[PS: and if Mr Kołakowski decides to leave crumbling Brexitland for the sunnier uplands of what I asssume to be his native fatherland in the free-movement EU, what will happen to all the artefacts dug out of the British archaeological record? "His" permission, but the archaeological heritage is that of the national territory.]

Metal Detectors being Sold in UK Right Now

I am putting together a text for a collected volume on artefact hunting in Poland. Obviously a fundamental question is "how many of them" are there? Estimates of my Polish colleagues seem to me to be wide of the mark and not based on anything much except a "project fear mentality". I cant believe that Poland has a metal detecting population more then three times that of the UK. I wondered how one could tackle the issue and wondered what would happen if you looked at numbers of online sales of metal detecting equipment and estimates of artefact hunting populations in other countries. It could give an "order of magnitude" that must be better than sheer guesswork.

So I had a look at eBay detector sales and I have my Polish answer. But I was worried that doing such survey in lockdown might produce a distorted value, surely when detecting if restricted by health regulations, dealers would not be advertising the equipment. It turns out that this may not be the case if we compare the results with an earlier microsurvey I did two years ago (PACHI Monday, 16 July 2018, 'Metal Detectors on Sale in the UK Right Now'). So here are today's figures in the same format. Compare the two.

for sale
eBay, right now, 'item location, UK only': 4810 results (New 4337, Used 371, For parts or not working 27). Of these 18+ are kiddies detector toys.

Brands available today
Garrett (213 items)  Minelab (103 items) XP (113 items) Macro 72, C.Scope (31 items)   Bounty Hunter (22 items) Mercury 22, Fisher 19, White's Electonics 12, Vida XL 17,  Viewee (10 items), Golden Mask 9, Tesoro (6 items), Nokta (9 items)  Treasure Cove (1 item), Treasure Hunter (2 items) Golden Mask (8 items) Homcom (5 items) Teknetic 2, Cobra 2, Voilamart 1, Compass 1, Detector pro 1, Bosch 1, Viking 1, Viper 1 Unbranded (749 items)   Not specified (1197 items)

The fact that UK dealers alone are offering (so have the expectation of selling) 4800 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?

In British antiquities, sold from the UK alone, there are 1313 'metal detecting finds' auctions, some bulk lots. 

Portable Antiquities Scheme: Millions of Pounds "Spaffed up the Wall"?

Over on a metal detecting forum near you, we can find an enlightening post on "PAS recording" by a metal detectorist from Carlisle, Cumbria calling themself "Richelli" (Sun Nov 22, 2020 6:17 pm):

So I have a few items that although won’t make the news, I would like to have recorded. Now some of the items come from areas I would rather not divulge with an exact location of long/lat because not much at all has come out of that area. I don’t mind giving the parish etc but I don’t like the idea of giving the exact location away. I know some will say you should, but I have spoke to some who won’t give that info to the local flow [sic]. I’m just wondering how many people give exact co ordinates and does the flo kick up a hissy[sic] for it you don’t.
MILLIONS of pounds have gone into trying to educate folk ("finders") like this about why we record artefacts. It's gone right over the head of this bloke, I doubt he's done very much reading up about the whys and wherefores of this hobby of his and how it relates to outside concerns. So he'd "like" to have something recorded at public expense (why, he does not say) but he's not going to share with the FLO the findspot beyond parish level. 

He asks the forum members to give him the answer on a plate: how many give the exact coordinates? Like all of them, he wants everything on a plate. Yet, it's easy to check, "Richelli", a mere mouse-click (I know, exhausting) away is the 2018 PAS annual report, the latest available. Table 6 tells us that "over 70% have at least an 8-figure NGR" and a six-figure NGR is the minimum accepted by the PAS (p. 4). But of course since the PAS report tells us (p. 4) that "4,028 individuals offered finds for recording", it means that some 19000 of the 27000 artefact hunters in England and Wales have not recorded anything at all with the PAS. That's your answer "Richelli".

On the other hand, when you think about it, where is a bus driver, or whatever "Richelli" does for a living, to get the information from the PAS output just "why" that findspot is important, and what can be done with it? From the "PAS Bumper Loose Finds Identified" book? Or their equally object-centred "50 best loose finds from..." series? Or from anything, anything at all, on their website? There's a lockdown going on in the UK, some 40 PAS staff members are sitting at home again, and this would be an ideal opportunity to sit down and knock out some online resources that actually inform the public that pays for them about archaeology. Sadly, nobody in PAS head office sees the opportunities this offers.

Sunday, 22 November 2020

UK's NCMD Sent "a letter to the Government". Government shows how much it cares about what Metal Detectorists "think"

The UK National Council of Metal Detectorists showing a typical lack of self-awareness sent a Letter To Government on 7th November 2020 about Covid-restrictions (due to end anyway on Wednesday 2nd December):
We have as yesterday sent a letter of complaint to the Government on the singling out of our hobby for restrictions

Vignette: Tumbleweed

Friday, 20 November 2020

Pseudoarchaeology and the Racism Behind Ancient Aliens Theories

 While the general outlines of this are now well-known, I found this old text well-argued:

Pseudoarchaeology and the Racism Behind Ancient Aliens Where, exactly, the idea of ancient aliens building the pyramids began — and why some academics think racism lies at the heart of many extraterrestrial theories. by Sarah E. Bond Hyperallergic November 13, 2018

Vignette (from the article, note the implications): "A female Egyptian head with an elongated skull is likely a depiction of the child of Amenophis IV/Akhenaten, (1351-1334 BCE) and is a forgery executed in the style  of the 18th Dynasty, Amarna Period , limestone and red paint, Walters Art Museum (image via the Walters Art Museum creative commons)."

STOP the Trafficking

For Amr Al-Azm, archaeologist and professor of Middle East history and anthropology: “We must punish the looters, but also the buyers.” Read his interview about illicit trafficking of cultural goods in the UNESCO Courier:

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