Thursday, 30 August 2012

Aussie Tekkies Weigh in on the Discussion

I came across a mention of this blog today on an "Australian Metal Detecting and Relic Hunting" forum. The forum itself is pretty turgid, and the metal detectorists Down Under have been alerted to the existence of my blog by one "DrunkBrother" who writes how he: Came across "HATE" blog of metal detecting... READ ON! » A lot of article. most of them picture detectorists as thiefs and so on.
So we see even down there, metal detector users have problems with forming plurals. The replies are interesting, the Aussies have so little material culture in the ground that they find it hard to get their heads round the idea of the archaeological record (reply #2) which is damaged by removal of artefacts. The attitude seems to be that it's not as if the(ir) artefacts are of great historical (or financial) value - the artefact-centred viewpoint that is the problem with the discussion with the US collecting milieus. There is an underlying resentment of the "greed" of the gubn'mint which is seen in this community too as the reason behind legislation that might protect the archaeological resource by restricting artefact hunting. Then (reply #3) along comes "Son of the Sands" from Melbourne, it says, who has the usual dismissive stuff to say:
Barford...or Barfool as we know him is a thorn in metal detectorists side in the UK. He does not differentiate between law abiding detectorists and nighthawks but uses the latter to call frequently for a ban on "amateur detecting". He does not get the full picture, ignoring the fact that most archy sites in the UK were originally found courtesy of the detecting community reporting finds. He is a chump and I have spent many happy hours winding him up on his site. Luckily, most people in the archaeological community think he's a jeb end as well. 
Well, that as may well be. I'm not too impressed by the UK archaeologists who look on while the archaeological record is emptied under their noses and they call it a fruitful "partnership". If it is true that "most arch[aeological] sites in the UK were originally found courtesy of the detecting community reporting finds", then there would be no sense in companies making information about the location of archaeological sites available to artefact hunters if the latter are the source of the information in the first place! The truth is that the location of many of the most productive archaeological sites in Britain had already been gathered in the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries well before any beeping madmen started to infest them hoovering up the collectables.

 It seems to me there is a certain blinkeredness in seeing this blog as "about" metal detecting. One of the things it is about is artefact hunting with metal detectors and spades seen in the context of other types of artefact hunting and collecting (in other words an attempt to see the "full picture"). It certainly does not consist "mostly" of posts calling artefact hunters "thie[ve]s". It is true that in terms of the effects on the preservation of the archaeological record, law abiding and non-reporting artefact hunters are doing as much (and the same kind of) damage as the illegal artefact hunter. It is a fallacy to say that - on that plane (and surely that is the only one that actually matters) - there is a difference. I challenge "Son of the Sands" to show a single word in the several thousand posts on this blog where I call for a ban on "amateur detecting". That is a prime example of the tendency of such collectors to not be able to tell the difference between a true and a false statement. It also certainly is news to me that "Son of the Sands" has "spent many happy hours winding [me] up on [t]his site [blog]". I cannot say I recall him even visiting.

Given the number of demonstrably false statements in the characterisation of this blog by the pseudonymous "Son of the Sands", I leave it to the reader to decide who is the "fool' and the "chump".  

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