Friday, 13 July 2012

"Britain's Secret Treasures" Drinking Game

In order to make the parade of the remains of archaeological contexts dismembered by metal detector wielding treasure hunters and artefact collectors on ITV1 next week more palatable, Portable Antiquities and Heritage Issues has devised a drinking game to accompany the programme.

A game that gives you a good reason to get drunk and argue about archaeology!

Assemble a group of friends in front of the TV just before “Britain’s Secret Treasures” begins.  Before they arrive, make sure that all the necessary equipment is present. You will require:
  • alcohol -- strong spirits have the best results, but beer or cider are more authentic (note to continentals: the beer in Britain is the warm-fermented type, and is served at room temperature…);  
  • assorted mixers, ice cubes and snacks (for sustenance and variety);
  • glasses; 
Ensure that everyone is seated comfortably at a safe distance from the television. Ascertain before the game starts that nobody came by car (those that did they are automatically disqualified from participation, but can act as impartial adjudicators).

The Game:
Everyone must have a drink to hand.  The general rules of this game are no different from any other drinking game. A drink is either a shot or a good gulp from a beer (or cider). Different events call for different numbers of drinks and all you do is watch the programme and play along.

Take 1 drink if:
  • You hear the phrase "only in it for the history",
  • Someone says "the money is not important, and I never sell my finds",
  • sweeping generalisations are made,
  • Nylon trousers, strap-on kneelers, baseball caps or camo gear are seen.   
  • A metal detecting club's own "code of conduct" is referred to by a metal detectorist (two more if it is mentioned by an archaeologist).
  • Someone says "we hate nighthawk[er]s/ nighthawk[er]s are not real metal detectorists" (it does not matter whether said by a detectorist, archaeologist or presenter).
  • David Lammy or "unsung heroes of the heritage" are mentioned,
  • There is a comment about the Treasure Valuation Committee or the speed and/or fairness of the 'Treasure Process'. 
  • Hughes does her 'google-eyed' look.
Take 2 drinks if:
  • You hear the phrase “revolutionizes our understanding of history”,
  • you hear the word “context” (four if it is a metal detectorist that says it),
  • The find being discussed is not of metal,
  • resistivity meters or magnetometers are shown,
  • people solemnly waving metal detectors over an excavation to no obvious end are shown,
  • an historical re-enactment group are shown,
  • Computer generated graphics and 'bright historic haze effects' are shown,
  • The display of an object on the screen is accompanied by a 'leap of imagination' story, trite, dumbed-down and baseless narrativisation,
  • The name of a member of the British royal family (dead or alive) is dropped into the conversation (those based on Geoffrey of Monmouth etc do not count). One drink if the ruler is foreign. 
  • "Roman soldiers" are invoked (two more if there is a re-enacter in full armour shown on the screen at the time)
Take 3 drinks if:
  • Mention is made of “agrichemical and plough damage”, 
  • Preservation in situ is referred to as “left rotting in the ground”,
  • A metal detectorist (or archaeologist) does silly stunts on camera like licking jellyfish or cross-dressing, 
  • Interpretations involve human sacrifice, strange 'ritual' acts or gory deaths,  
  • there is product placement (a metal detector brand is identifiable, or a metal detector producer’s logo is visible in the shot) - look at the clothing as well as equipment, 
  • The object discussed is of iron.  
  • The NCMD Code of Conduct is referred to by a metal detectorist (two more if it is mentioned by an archaeologist),
  • Cotton gloves are not used while handling artefacts,
Take 5 drinks if:
  •  A landowner has waived his "reward money".
  •  eBay is mentioned by a detectorist,
  • The Code of Practice for Responsible Metal Detecting in England and Wales is referred to by a metal detectorist (none if it is mentioned by an archaeologist, three more drinks however if is shown being presented to a landowner),
  • Any mention is made of a metal detectorist's personal artefact collection,
Take 7 drinks if:
  •  A metal detectorist has waived his "reward money".
  • The completion of a full publication of one of the discussed finds is mentioned (two more if it actually shown on screen),
  • Any health risks from metal detector use (electromagnetic radiation, harmful nanovibrations etc.) are referred to,
  • There is any mention of international conventions,
  • There is any mention of any of the theoretical literature on heritage issues, from either side (White Hat Guys, Gill, Renfrew, Elia, SAFE etc. or the Dark Side - finds identification manuals, coin catalogues and price guides do not count).
If all goes well, you should all be so drunk by the end of the programme that you will not be able to fire off a strongly-worded letter of complaint to ITV about the misrepresentation of the nature of archaeology. Hopefully the next morning you will have forgotten what you saw.
Happy Drinking!

* Inspired (obviously) by ‘The Time team Drinking Game’ (see also
Vignette: : Keith Morris/Alamy

Britain's Secret treasures, ITV 1 16th-22nd July 2012

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