Thursday, 22 March 2012

Focus on Metal Detecting: Respect Our History

Allow me to quote something from the SAFE blog:
Respect Our History: End Production of American Digger and Diggers!

"The undersigned institutions join the growing tide of concern about the National Geographic Channel’s new series “Diggers” and Spike TV’s forthcoming series “American Digger,”both of which are designed to amuse and entertain audiences while glorifying the indiscriminate destruction of American history by artifact hunters. The teaser advertisement for “American Digger” gives a good indication of how little the producers of these shows value the historical record; the show aims to “scour target-rich areas such as battlefields and historic sites, in hopes of striking it rich by unearthing and selling rare pieces of American history.”

America’s cultural heritage is worth more to all of us than the few dollars that the “diggers” will pocket as a result of their exploits. The activities highlighted by these shows destroy the archaeological record, and in many cases cause damage to the historic site that remains. America’s battlefields and historic sites deserve more respect than they would if they were to serve as the personal hunting ground for treasure seekers and pothunters".
The online petition to one of the TV companies has 18700 signatures against continuing the programme.

I idly wonder should that programme have been emitted first in the UK, and some bold heritage professional started up a petition to "say no", what would have happened? Well, first the metal detectorists of Britain would go nuts ("how can they say this about us?/it's legal innit?/ Jus' think of all the GOOD we all do!"). There would be letter writing campaigns to the media. The PAS would be asked to "say something" on behalf of the responsible blokes who are archaeology's "partners" (I will discretely reserve comment on what I personally think the PAS would do). And how many members of the British public would sign the petition? My bet is they'd be hard pushed to get seven hundred signatures, such is the extent of the bamboozling of the British public over such issues. And who is to blame for that? I leave you to decide. But some readers will know my opinion ("Archaeological outreach", my armpit).

Vignette: Bulky US tekkie "protecting the heritage" with a whacking big hammer (Photo: Jeff Daly/Spike TV, via PictureGroup)

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