The Italians do not use detectorists on their sites and this will be a first.....a very important chance to show them how useful they can be and a chance to interact with archaeologists that know little or nothing about metal detecting.How odd that while geophysical survey (magnetometer, resistivity, radar etc.) are routinely used in the study of whole landscapes and individual sites by the British School at Rome, nobody thought of importing Britains's "heritage heroes" to do a spot of "tekking" across the sites to hoik out the goodies. Not even on the sites being investigated by the PAS-touting British Museum. But never mind, the PAS has stepped in and organised a trip to Gabii for a couple of their artefact collecting partners. All good propaganda for the cause eh?
I've seen metal detecting in Michigan with my own eyes. Apparently however archaeologists from the University of Michigan know "little or nothing" of metal detecting. I expect in June and July they will have a chance to find out at least half the truth. I suppose having the metal detector using artefact hunters on their site saves their students having to dig carefully and cleanly in the limited time they will be over in Europe. After all they'll have these blokes to go over the spoil to make sure they've missed none of the "important" (metal) stuff. Somehow I think an important point of archaeological methodology is being overlooked here - perhaps more than one (I wrote about it ten years ago).
Reference: P.M. Barford 1999: ‘Wykrywacz metali jako narzędzia archeologa’ [metal detectors as an archaeological tool] in W. Brzezinski and Z. Kobyliński (eds.) "Wykrywacze metali a archeologia", Warsaw. pp. 131-143.
Vignette: 1997 geophysical survey at Forum Novum/Vescovio, Italy.