Friday, 18 January 2019

Watching You Watching Me

Hi, guest -  our tracking software shows that its not really going too well for you, is it?

Let me give you a statistic that I am not sure you can see on our search engine. The number of published posts here 10556 ten and a half thousand posts on various portable antiquities collecting and heritage issues. Think about it, young man.

Am I, really, the one who needs to be ashamed for making this material and my views on it available to a wider public? Or is it you who consider that the group admin and fellow archaeologist should be bullied by you and your mates to the point he resigns from running the group at all? Shame on you. Who do you think you are and where do you think mobbing will get your cause?

Shared Heritage, Aero Mexico -"DNA Discount"

There's politics and then there's shared heritage...

Not wanting to spoil a good story of rednecks making a spectacle of themselves, the notion of 'Mexican DNA' seems a bit dodgy to me... maybe someone can explain the science to us.


Lifting the Veil

An interesting Facebook profile photo of a metal detectorist:

Dave Reynolds zaktualizował swoje zdjęcie profilowe.
The problem is however that artefact hunting with a metal detector will not find the buildings, their layout and form. The nails might be collected (if they are not discriminated out or discarded). There is therefore a confusion between artefact hunting and archaeology.

Damage to Archaeological Stratification in Austria Caused by Artefact Hunting (1)

Wiener schnitzel
Last week, Raimund Karl inserted into a Facebook discussion on the increasing scale of Collection-Driven Exploitation of the archaeological record in England and Wales a link to a survey he had done of Austrian archaeological reports that proved something-or-other. He stated there:
[...] if you are truly interested in some more data, based on the examination of c. 1.400 excavation reports, created based on a standardised methodology, on damage being caused to archaeology by 'collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record', here is one:  An empirical examination of archaeological damage caused by unprofessional extraction of archaeology ex situ ('looting'). A case study from Austria. Archäologische Denkmalpflege 2, 2019, 1-34.  It includes lots of examples of collection-driven archaeological exploitation of the archaeological record. five of those are definitely, another seven possibly, attributable to the activities of metal detectorists.

Damage to Archaeological Stratification in Austria Caused by Artefact Hunting (2): Prof. Karl's Stated Aims

"better, much better. Tremendous.
In fact... I think we 
can say...  nobody has ever had
such  good results.... 
better than me"

Donald Trump

Explaining in Austria
This text follows on from the first part of my discussion of a recent article: Damage to Archaeological Stratification in Austria Caused by Artefact Hunting (1) and reviewing a recent text by Bangor Professor Raimund Karl. In this one, I want to discuss the way the author sees collecting. But first: 

What is an Archaeological Site?
The way the text is constructed impels us to turn to a fundamental issue (or rather the same one as 'what is archaeology' in part one, but in a different form). Karl's text presents archaeological research as excavation, and excavated evidence as the only type that matters (indeed almost as if its the only type that exists). It seems the underlying premise is that if he can prove little damage is caused by collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record to stratification in situ, Karl can show that the practice is, in his opinion shown to not be as damaging as other archaeologists make out. As far down as p 28 we get this potted research aim:
The main aim of this study was to conduct an empirical examination of archaeological evidence for damage caused to previously ‘undisturbed’ archaeological contexts by the unprofessional extraction of archaeological finds ex situ, also commonly referred to as ‘looting’; particularly in recent times. 
So, according to this......,

Damage to Archaeological Stratification in Austria Caused by Artefact Hunting (3) Results of a 'Study' and their Interpretation

Relic of past greatness
This text is the third in a series looking at a recent paper by Raimund Karl  ('An empirical examination of archaeological damage caused by unprofessional extraction of archaeology ex situ ('looting'). A case study from Austria'. Archäologische Denkmalpflege 2, 2019, 1-34) and is the third and final part of my discussion of it. (see parts 1 and 2 here and here, also see the points made about 'a hole is not a hole, is not a hole' when it comes to artefact hunting, and also 'Archaeologists, Attitudes to Conservation and the Elephant Hunter Argument'

The Research Method and its Results
The 34 pages of this text are bulked out by various stuff, some of it not really needed. Karl's methods are set out on pp 5-9 and seem relatively self-explanatory, though raise serious questions not discussed (below). There are bar charts and histograms and it all makes an impression of Teutonic thoroughness and attention to detail. Except, there are a number of things missing here for this study to actually make sense - even, in fact, in the narrow framework the author had spent the previous four pages (hastily?) constructing......

Thursday, 17 January 2019

The Archaeological Values of the PAS Database (IX): Go on, Guess [UPDATED]

More PAS public dumbdown instead of informing public about portable antiquities issues, but also taunting them, by putting the picture on its side and then trying to appear clever (I know what this is bet you dont!):

The fact it is obviously a modern token (slot on the reverse) and the dialphone numbers and Hebrew script really did not fool anyone, and you wonder what is the point of fooling around like this? What kind of archaeological outreach is that? Zero, actually since the thing is c. 1965.

 But OK, viewers were asked to reflect on 'the main conundrum with this little piece being how it came to be deposited in a field in rural Northern England. Any guesses?'. I'd say the most probable reason why this is in a field is that in the fifty years or so since its striking, it was in somebody's exonumismatic collection, which somehow got broken up and this item got into the field (kids playing 'shop' with late Uncle Benny's coins, house burgled, thief dropped bag in the dark, holed coins used as ersatz roofing felt washers on a cowshed?? Who knows? Anyone can make up a story). But surely PAS is set up for a purpose other than provide artefactological guessing games for the proles.

The point this obviously out-of-place object raises is how may other 'out of place' items in PAS database have similar origins? How can we tell in the case of items that would occur in UK fields anyway? This again is reason to question the reliability of any of the 'data' in the PAS database when it is taken 'as is'.

UPDATE Two hours later
That's sweet:
"Thank you Paul for taking part in the PAS guessing game, your answer is of course correct, it is an Israeli phone token.  Let me also take the opportunity to thank you for your feedback allowing us to consider how the PAS can in future improve their public outreach and spend public money, something we are constantly trying to achieve.Thank you for your interest in the Portable Antiquities Scheme. But for now, let me just leave you and your readers with this message:

Well, that's probably what it says below the "Go Away Barford" Twitter forcefield shielding most FLOs from PACHI observation, bless them. So, what is it about these guessing games, 'on this day' , 'here's a pretty thing' and 'finds advent calendars' that substitute for archaeological outreach that is so sensitive?

I've got a question for Ben Jones. You posted something in the public domain, and when somebody engages with it in the public domain with more than some dumbass joke ('aliens!") - which it seems you can cope with - and actually raises a substantive issue on its basis, you blocked them. Why? Why can't you cope with a non-joke? Does blocking me make that issue and the questions about it disappear? Or if there is no issue, instead of hiding, why not demonstrate that there is no issue? Do't you think that the repetition of this sort of behaviour from the FLOs blocking discussion of awkward issues will one day actually be more widely noticed and considered to be typical FLO behaviour? And when it is, where does that get you? Are you actually capable in the archaeological use of social media of more than guessing games and entertaining piccies of brass Hindu gods and other such curios? Are FLOs there merely to entertain the proles on public money, or do they fulfil a more archaeologically useful purpose - like actually being there to teach archaeology to the public? Israeli telephone counters do none of that.

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