Thursday, 6 September 2012

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: Carelessly Orphaning Artefacts

I think we should all be disturbed to read this:
Retired detectorist hands over some finds
by egon999 » Thu Sep 06, 2012 1:41 am  (cached here)
similar story here:
 Veteran detectorist shares his finds
Postby egon999 » Wed May 30, 2012 3:00 pm 
(update moved to here)
The threads refer to an old detectorist who was in a 'sheltered residence' (old people's home) who'd given a heap of artefacts to a new metal detectorist who was then asking for information about how to identify (typologically) these artefacts. In neither case is any mention made of handing over the information where each individual item came from, nor that the new owner is a bit concerned about this. Since the new owner is asking for help identifying them, I think we may fairly assume that they are not recorded on the PAS database (which would give that information).  Archaeological sites have been emptied of artefacts, no records made of what came from where, there is no possibility ever of marrying the "information" of a box or bag of loose archaeological artefacts and the archaeological contexts from which they came.  One "Clint" (Stansdad) muses: 
it does make you think what to do do with all the stuff we dig up when we are to[o] old or ill to carry on detecting, what will happen to it, will anyone want it?
Not without any proper information they will not. Artefact hunters by their carelessness not keeping such information in a form which can be associated with each item have effectively "orphaned" them, as the collectors' terminology goes.

So, what is the Portable Antiquities Scheme doing to actively combat this problem?  Certainly not enough.

UPDATE 8.09.12
And the detectorists? Well, well what a surprise, following my links (which worked  when I wrote this post) brings you in both cases to:
"The requested topic does not exist".
What of course they mean is that they are making use of the ephemeral nature of a forum post which can be easily deleted so nobody sees, pretending this issue does not exist. But pretending, censoring and deceiving does not make a problem go away. It just makes facing up to it all the more difficult.

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