Jonathan Owen, while writing an article about the TV series "Britain's Secret Treasures" contacted the British Museum about its planned involvement. He reports that they "dismissed concerns about the TV series".
"The museum has made it clear that its co-operation is dependent on the issues involved in the discovery of objects by the public – especially metal detectorists – being dealt with in a responsible way," it said.Now the British Museum and its Portable Antiquities Scheme do very little else but treat any concerns about their activities with offhand dismissal. After all, why would Bloomsbury care about such things? Archaeologists who raise concerns are labelled "trolls" by those working in the belly of the BeheMoth.
A question which their brief statement arouses however is what does the PAS understand by the clause: "the issues involved in the discovery of objects by metal detectorists being dealt with in a responsible way"? The archaeologically responsible way to treat artefact hunting and collecting in any one country is surely to see it in the context of artefact hunting and collecting (and trade) as a global phenomenon, and in terms of the damage it does to the finite and fragile archaeological record. Somehow I do not think this really is the way the artefact-hunting and collecting "partners"of the PAS and those involved in the trade in Britain would like those "issues" being dealt with.
Furthermore, I suspect this is an issue the PAS itself would rather dodge. Let us note how the BM uses the word "discovery", shifting attention one step removed from the real issue, which is not only the searching, but the digging up and removal for personal entertainment and profit of the "objects" (components of archaeological evidence). Of course on top of all that, the real "secret" treasures are the tens of thousands of artefacts dug out of tens of thousands of holes dug in tens of thousands of archaeological findspots which never make it into the public record. Most of them probably end up getting thrown away, or surface anonymously on the antiquities market.
Jonathan Owen, 'Anger as TV show endorses metal-detecting 'plunderers'...', Independent 3 April 2011