Friday, 15 May 2009

A chance to interact with archaeologists that know little or nothing about metal detecting.

A couple of British metal detectorists are boasting over on one of their forums that they have been invited by the University of Michigan to take part in a metal detecting jaunt in Italy, as part of the excavation project at Gabii. They say:

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.

6 comments:

brodgar said...

why don't you just give up on this boring sniping Paul?

Paul Barford said...

If it's boring you do not read it. Nobody makes you. This is something I feel strongly about, so I write about it.

The use of metal detectors in sampling techniques is an important methodological issue. One I look forward to seeing discussed in full in the Gabii final report.

[PS. I write under my own name Mr/Mrs "Brodgar", not hiding behind a pseudonym linking to an inaccessible profile, why hide?].

tom.redmayne said...

Mr. Barford.

You do not know me and know nothing about me yet you accuse me of boasting and presume to know exactly what my motivations are for wanting to be a part of the Gabii project.

I admit I was,and still am, excited and priviliged to be asked and I hope this shows in the post I made that you have, so delicately, referred to in your blog.

Since the day I started metal detecting, I have been fastidious and responsible in the way I accurately record anything everything I find, both personally and with the PAS. I treat my "hobby" in a professional way and will take this responsibility with me to Gabii and continue to do my best to both teach and learn about how metal detectors can be used productively on archaeological sites.

You also imply that I am, in some way, dictated to by, or in partnership with, the PAS and the BM. I am an individual who was asked to join an important archaeological project. I answer to myself Mr. Barford and make my own decisions. I am not swayed by others as easily as you imply, or as easily as you may hope your readers are swayed by your vitriolic outpourings.

I hope you do see the results of my and others' efforts in the Gabii final report and enjoy the positive side of what we are trying to do instead of continually wallowing in the negative.

My name is Tom Redmayne and I do not hide behind pseudonyms.

Paul Barford said...

Right, well my interest was (as I said) the methodology as a sampling procedure, so no, I am not interested a bit in "what" you find, but what it tells the excavators and why. I would say it's up to the archaeologists to determine how the tool should be used in their excavation strategy rather than you "doing your best to both teach and learn about how metal detectors can be used productively on archaeological sites".

Now as for the "boasting", the original post certainly looks like that - and the reactions in the forum thread after it certainly seem to suggest that is how it was taken:
- Wow, what an opportunity!

- you lucky lucky bugger, well done!

- Jammy gits Tom, munkiezuncal and StuE.

- Wow, you lucky beggars, fancy being involved in something like that

- Chance of a life time Tom. Enjoy showing our hobby in a good light and find lots

- A free detecting holliday

- Top work guys, hope you uncover some wonderful artifacts.

- How did you get a gig like that

- it looks as if you are going to have the "rally" of a lifetime, and having seen the members of staff who will be there I am totally jealous, some of those female archaeologists are stunning I wouldn't be able to concentrate on the job
... and so on.

As for the motive, you write: "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. This was too good to be true."


You also imply that I am, in some way, dictated to by, or in partnership with, the PAS and the BM. I am an individual who was asked to join an important archaeological project. Whether you are in "partnership" with the PAS they say they are in partnership with YOU. As this case seems to show. As for who invited who, what you actually wrote in the thread was: "Last Saturday I received a telephone call from Sally Worrel of the PAS asking if I would be interested in working on an archaeological dig for a week. The dig is scheduled for 4 weeks and will have only one detectorist present each week. OK I said, where is it?............. Italy, 10 miles outside Rome on the ancient city of Gabii...." and also:
"This is down to Sally Worrell of the Portable Antiquities Scheme Kev - she met the directors of the excavation at a conference at the beginning of last month and asked them if they were using detectorists as part of the survey both before and during it. They got back to her and asked her to recommend detectorists to be involved".So was it Sally Worrell that told you that "metal detectors" are not used on Italian sites, and that the archaeologists from Michigan know nothing of such things, or is that your own invention Tom Redmayne? (real name, finder of the Fulstowe lead sheet fragments over-imaginitively interpreted by the PAS as "curse tablets").

"Vitriolic"? Moi? If you don't like what you read here, nobody's forcing you to read it. I and others have seen a lot of personal comments and other things specifically about me on detecting forums. I mentioned no names in the post which you are commenting, but get called all sorts of names by your mates over on the detecting forums by people who for the most part do not sign their own names under what they say.

tom.redmayne said...

I posted a reply but you never put it on the blog. Censorship to suit your agenda it seems.

Paul Barford said...

Well, you actually just repeated much what you'd said earlier after first insulting me. So since it is my blog, I decided not to post it as it was not advancing the discussion on the methodology of the use of metal detectors on site. No more "censorship" than what goes on over on the metal detdcting forums. But this is not a forum, it's MY personal blog, there is a difference. If "metal detectorists" don't like it, nobody's asking them to read it - but then nobody is STOPPING them either. Have a good time in Italy.

 
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