Sunday, 8 July 2012

Tearing Up the Convention

Let me put this comment out as a post too, it encapsulates the problem exactly and succinctly:

Heritageaction ( has left a new comment on your post "Future Challenges for Artefact Hunting in the UK":

If the activity was regulated.... "most archaeological objects would perpetually remain in the soil - ‘preserved in situ’, never to be excavated - many subject to agricultural damage, or looted."

That sentence could have been spoken by an artefact hunter could it not? It illustrates how PAS has moved from being a statutory coping mechanism to a metal detecting champion.

Since when  in Europe is preservation in situ  a bad thing? Since when is "better out than in" is a valid archaeological stance? Since when is agricultural damage in some places a reason for extracting artefacts from everywhere at random for fun or profit? Since when will regulation laws not be enforced and will mean mass looting by PAS's currently "responsible" partners?

It's all pub talk IMO, much quoted by artefact hunters - but why should PAS talk that way about the public's assets? The bottom line is that preservation in situ and regulation of artefact hunting exists abroad and is supported by most archaeologists abroad and has a less damaging effect than British laissez faire. PAS is not making logical or evidence-based or archaeological arguments - it daren't - it is mouthing detectorese.
So, the PAS it seems recommends tearing up the "European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage (Revised)".

Vignette: Noel Sickles illustration (detail)

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