Starting about now is the annual PAS conference. This year's ("Finds in the Landscape: How portable antiquities contribute to our understanding of past landscapes") has been organized by Katie Robbins, Post-Doc researcher as one of the "deliverables" of the Leverhulme project "The Portable Antiquities Scheme database as a tool for archaeological research'. ("An academic conference in 2014 will include papers from experts analysing and discussing data supplied by the PAS on a range of periods, artefact types and geographical areas" - so basically totally different from what they've done at any conference before....)
ProgrammeSeeing as the whole Leverhulme project that's apparently funding this is about the use of the PAS database as a research tool, is it not a bit odd that only a quick half-hour summary is all that it actually involves?
10:25 Welcome by Dr Roger Bland
10:30 Dr Katherine Robbins (The British Museum) The Portable Antiquities Scheme as a tool for archaeological research
11:00 Dr Claire Harris (The British Museum) Mapping Palaeolithic Britain: Place, Space and Time
12.00 Dr Anwen Cooper and Dr Chris Green (University of Oxford) Finding the Landscape: PAS data and the English Landscape and Identities Project
12.30 Dr Julia Farley (The British Museum) When is a torc not a torc? A new approach to Iron Age and Romano British precious metal assemblages
14:00 Dr Adrian Chadwick and Dr Eleanor Ghey (University of Leicester and British Museum) Landscapes, Lucre and Lightning Seeds: Coin hoards in context in Iron Age and Roman Britain
14:30 Dr Tom Brindle (University of Reading) Roman Rural Settlement Project, title tbc
15:30 Adam Daubney (Finds Liaison Officer, Lincolnshire) Portable Antiquities and Persistent Places in Lincolnshire
16:00 Prof Julian Richards (University of York) The Viking Camp at Torksey, AD 872-3
16:30 Half-hour 'Discussion' and back-slapping.
What the PAS database records is a landscape largely of collecting activities by artefact hunters but also accidental finds and information from miscellaneous sources, all with their inbuilt biases. It is rather odd then that these methodological issues are are not discussed in favour of the usual "wotta-lotta-stuff-we-got" material aspects and the de rigeur dot-distribution maps. PAS- Siedlungsarchäologie once again (Daubney discussing the 'Ahnenerbe' too).