Thursday, 1 March 2012

Just Imagine this Happening in the UK: "Join AIA in Opposing Treasure Hunting Shows"

Just imagine this happening in the UK. Archaeologists learn about a TV programme about treasure hunting and react as archaeologists should to anything which creates a threat to the archaeological record and public perceptions of archaeology and archaeological convention. There was such an occasion a while back when a (single) PAS employee with a conscience anonymously passed on the information about what PAS was scheming with a TV company, and what happened? Most UK archaeologists shrugged, some made fun of those criticising such a notion, one or two made desultory mumblings, but then forgot about it. "Not my problem" it seems they concluded. Here is how the conservation conscious AIA has reacted in the USA to a similar matter. Quite a difference, isn't there?
Dear AIA Members,
The AIA has learned of two new TV shows that promote treasure hunting to find archaeological objects. National Geographic's "Diggers" airs tonight and Spike TV's "American Diggers" will air next month. Both shows feature metal detectorists and at least one ("American Diggers") emphasizes the commercial value of the found objects. The AIA believes that these shows promote the looting and destruction of archaeological sites.
The AIA has joined several other groups including the SAA, SHA, and RPA in voicing concern about these programs and the negative messages they send about cultural heritage and its recovery. Links to copies of the SAA and SHA letters can be found at the bottom of this letter.
We would like to ask you, our members and archaeology enthusiasts, to send letters and/or e-mails to the companies involved asking them to alter the message of the shows and to provide disclaimers during the airing of the show that makes it clear that what the shows are promoting is unethical and in some instances may even be illegal. We hope that they will engage in a meaningful dialogue with archaeologists about the illicit practices they promote.
Elizabeth Bartman
Elizabeth Bartman

Voice your Concern
Spike TV,
Scott Gurney and Deirdre Gurney
Gurney Productions, Inc.
8929 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Suite 510
Los Angeles, California 90045

Kevin Kay
President, Spike TV
1633 Broadway
New York, New York 10019

Send comments or questions regarding National Geographic Channel television programming:

There are also Facebook Pages where you can comment.
One is a "People against American Diggers" Facebook Page:!/pages/People-against-Spike-TVs-American-Digger/193110227460512

If you would like to add comments to the Spike website, please visit the comments section at the bottom of the following page:
The Spike TV announcement is available at:
See Letters Submitted by the SAA and SHA
SAA Letters:
http ://

SHA Letters:


"Voice your concern", now that's a novel idea isn't it? I suppose first UK archaeologists would have to get their noses out of their finds trays and coin books and actually be a bit concerned about things like this ... (by the way, the 'Spike' petition has reached 15,475 signatures).

Then we have the summary (Wednesday, February 29, 2012) on "Sexy Archaeology" of what has been going on:

An update on the fight against televised looting

I am overwhelmed by the response received in regards to both Spike TV's American Diggers and National Geographic Channel's Diggers series. The outpouring of support from archaeologists, professors, curators, students, enthusiast, and legitimately concerned individuals is overwhelming. I want to extend my thanks to everyone who has taken time to show their disgust and anger over what is percolating in the television landscape.

Here is an update across the board as to what is happening:

Archaeologists may sometimes be divided on their interpretations of history, but one thing has been made abundantly clear these last few days: when it come to threatening the historical record and the science of archaeology, we stand together. Don't let bad science or non-science ever rear its ugly head in the media because more often than not, what the public sees the public does.

Obviously Archaeology is not sexy enough for British archaeologists to care a hoot about artefact hunting going on under their noses. They and their inaction are put to shame by their American counterparts.

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