Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Preservation the Concern of "Snobs"?

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Peter Tompa reckons that:
we should all be happy that PAS and the Treasure Act have encouraged the general public to help the archaeological community record the past in England and Wales.
But what about preserving the remains of the past in a more holistic sense? Yes, the Treasure Act and Portable Antiquities Scheme get records made of shiny (or not so shiny) "bits of the past", but at what cost? What is lost along the way? Tompa seems not to want to admit that these geegaws are ripped from the archaeological record, and what is "recorded" is just the tip of the iceberg, that which is lost is immeasurably greater. So what is it "for"? Who should be happy about what precisely? And who is this "we"?

Tompa reckons it is not true that the PAS "look wotta lotta stuff" figures being quoted on the front page of their website do not contain the CCI and IARCW and Frome Hoard data. But they quite clearly do. But people like Tompa are not going to listen to reason, they "know what they know" and that is that the PAS is the best thing for collectors since sliced bread. It however does not need a "snob" to ask to what degree current UK policies (here I included Scotland) are indeed the best thing for the archaeological record. Is archaeology really just about "Treasure" hunting?

So if American lawyers and others are "happy" that the Brits are "recording their past" what about creating the opportunity for American members of the public to do it too by setting up a Portable Antiquities Scheme in the USA and Canada? Plenty of artefacts over there, plenty of artefact hunters digging them up and collecting them away. Why is there no 'PAS of America' gathering that information if its such a good thing when others do it? What about US "collectors' rights" to be able to make a contribution? When are we going to see the "collectors' rights" advocates actually putting their money where their mouths are and pushing for one in their own country?

Vignette: green eco-snobs

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