Saturday, 4 August 2012

"Response to Criticism from Warsaw"

Metal detectorists again. [I did send a reply to Mr Stout's post "Response to criticism from Warsaw...". It concerned his apparent inability to work out how to do links to my blog, but he's not seen fit to post it.] Still less did he actually address any but the most superficial final point of what I said in my discussion of what he had earlier said about my comments on 'best practice'. But he did post up instead this gem from a guy called "Robbie" (August 4, 2012 at 1:29 pm). It's a cracker. I think it must be replying to my pointing out that an archaeologist who has spent his life "finding stuff" (and not yet stopped) is hardly going to be "envious" of these hobbyists finding the sort of crap that metal detectorists in the US get so excited about, Barber dimes, wheat pennies, confederate buttons and buckles. I think Robbie missed the point entirely as well as getting himself tied up in his own argument. Still, he's probably a tekkie, 'nuff said:
The situation of metal detecting in the USA is much different than that of the UK. Here there are many public places we can search and find “our treasures”. Many of them a mere 500 years old at the most. In the UK there are finds going back almost 100 years, or more, and some in large caches or hoards. In the US many archaeological finds have been cataloged and stored away in massive storaged facilities, never to be seen by the public. In the U.K. archaeological finds, most found by permission on private property, are bought by museums and the finder, landowner are paid. The items get cataloged and shown in many museums.
So why would the U.K archaologists keep commenting on the US metal detectorists???? If we do find a Barber dime, or a civil war buckle –we get to keep it, or do whatever we want with it. If a British metal detectorist finds an artifact ( hammered silver, Roman gold coin or hoard or ancient coins) he has to report the find, gets paid for it, and get his name in newsprint for a spectacular find.
Why are those British archaeologists, so against metal detectorists??
Are they envious???
Uuummmm... what? Where to start, and why bother? Mr "Robbie" clearly knows not the first thing about metal detecting in the UK. A finder of a hammered silver coin or a Roman gold coin does NOT "have to report the find", he may or may not get paid if he finds Treasure (its called discretionary). Also what do we think about individuals going to public land (ie there to be enjoyed in its full richness by everybody) and rips out the historical artefacts or cuts down some of the trees? By whose consent?

Mr "Robbie" does not understand (and I think it fair to say from what we see above probably never will) why "the (sic) U.K archaologists" are "commenting on the (sic) US metal detectorists". I would say one good reason is when we see them writing a load of nonsense on blogs and forums about 'what happens in Britain' presented as 'fact' (see above). Why would anybody resent having the record set straight so the truth does not get lost in the fog of myth and tekkie-lore? Why remain silent when we see tekkies blithely writing about what they do when that falls well-short of any reasonable person's concept of "best practice"? If they want to be treated as a coherent body of responsible people sustainably utilising a resource in a responsible manner for the public good, then why would they shy away from any kind of open discussion of what constitutes such practices?

There are a number of reasons set out in some detail in this blog and elsewhere why some of us feel strongly that there are reasons for concern about the current status quo of "metal detecting" (and the various propositions, ideas and proposals we see coming from the pens of those using this tool to hunt for historical artefacts). That "Robbie" gets so tangled up in expressing his own thoughts suggests he might have some kind of hindrance in trying to follow somebody else's. But then this blog is not written for the likes of him. England (and for the moment Wales) has a Portable Antiquities Scheme to explain things to these folk, America has yet to get one ("In the US many archaeological finds have been cataloged and stored away in massive storaged facilities, never to be seen by the public" - Shame on you America).

But let me just answer Robbie's direct question, maybe that will satisfy him - no "Robbie" it is not envy. Really it is not, there are deeper reasons for the concern.OK? Got that?

Mr Stout, "Robbie" and all the rest of you. Is what we see on the Stout blog (not forgetting the other post he has just published, "Hello Sailor, fancy a longshaft?") really the best "response" the detecting milieu of the USA can muster to the points raised  by commentators - whether in Warsaw or not?  If it is, that's a bit sad.

UPDATE 21:02 PM,  Oh, I see he has now posted my comment - so presumably we can expect some proper hot-linking when he gets round to a more serious reasoned discussion of what he dismissively calls my "BS".

UPDATE 6th August 2012:
Now there is another reply from Texas Mr Stout's blog which is supposed to be an "answer", it is however pretty insubstantial (he calls it "long")  and in effect is basically no different from his earlier "Mr. Barfart, why don’t you piss off and leave us alone?", adding for good measure that the sustainable management of the archaeological record is "none of [my] business". I presume he'd say the same about anybody reading this, it's "none of your business" what artefact hunters, dealers and collectors do to your, and our common archaeological heritage.

"Robbie" attempts a reply which is more or less the same. That artefact hunters and collectors find things  so archaeologists can "dig and find items much quicker" ("conservation" Robbie, that's cutting down all the trees and shooting all the rhinos and digging out all the orchids, or finding ways to stop them being cut down, shot or dug up?). He seems to think digging artefacts out of the sort of sites artefact hunters (in the US I assume he means) does them no damage whatsoever (as an archaeologist I would dispute that) and he thinks I should stop talking about metal detectorists in the USA because they are in some way (unexplained) different to the rest. American Exceptionalism rears its ugly head again.

Vignette: Stout

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