Sunday, 21 October 2012

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: Rejoicing Heard in the Hills and Valleys!

This is pretty unbelievable, but in a thread called End Of Time Team the metal detectorists of Wales are applauding the announced demise of the TV programme. You know, all those blokes out there who with one voice claim to "only be in it fer th'istry" ("always wanted to be an archaeologist, but nevver 'ad the chance [me spelling let me down]"). This is the whole justification for PAS-partnering of this milieu to enable them to "engage" with the past. Anyway they are tickled pink that there will be one less archaeology programme for people to watch. On hearing the news, member "Proconsul" ("Administrator, Hero Member") proclaims:
Hooray! All metal detectorists should be delighted at this news. The Time Team programme has been a consistent enemy of metal detecting and [Tony] Robinson and [Professor Mick] Aston have done everything they could to get our hobby banned, including giving 'evidence' against us in front of a Parliamentary committee. I for one am extremely happy that Channel 4 have finally come to their senses and binned this programme.
Because the Time Team archaeologists were asked to give (and gave) an archaeological opinion? He is glad it is going because from time to time a less-than-wholly fawning opinion was expressed about artefact hunting from an archaeological point of view on an archaeology programme? Now it is gone, does he imagine that any who were persuaded by the message that there is a problem in current policies towards artefact hunting and collecting will now assume that since the problem has gone, that particular problem has too?

Another time-worn mantra-compilation from the Taffish beep-beep boys was submitted by member "Rjm" ("Detector Guru, Superhero Member"). He writes (apparently not understanding one bit what he's on about):
It always amazed me that they could rip the top 12" of topsoil off with a JCB digger without a second thought...... the very soil that we detect...... and then criticise detectorists for removing items out of context! If it wasn't for detectorists we wouldn't have the wonderful hoards and other finds in our museums. I personally think these so called academics don't like amateurs intruding into their sphere of so called expertise. I think detectorists have given the nation more than them and they don't like it. The good detectorists do far exceeds the odd bad incident. [...]
Well, I suppose many will continued to be "amazed" by things they do not understand. The rest of us think that Britain has thrown millions of quid at an outreach Scheme to liaise with these people and explain simple things like the difference between surface evidence surveys and excavation and all that. It's not rocket science, but it seems the PAS has concluded that it's beyond their capabilities to explain that to their "metal detecting" partners over fifteen years of "outreach". Quite what they've done with the time and money apart from compiling a database of objects lost from the archaeological record is beyond the rest of us. In any case, quite a lot of the discussion on detecting forums these days is about the new generation of sensitive depth advantage machines and the advantages they give over those who do shallow detecting. The PAS would of course  never create such a list (because their "partners" would not come out too well if they did), but I bet if the public were kept properly informed about what's happening out in the fields, a high proportion (perhaps a very high proportion) of the multiple-object Treasure finds made each year are coming from below ploughsoil levels, despite strenuous efforts of the pro-collecting lobby to suggest otherwise. 

Mr Rjm may "personally think" what he likes, the rest of us can reflect on what the real problem is with ten thousand self-interested artefact hunters week after week pulling as many collectable metal artefacts they can out of the archaeological sites and assemblages all over the country, keeping what they want, flogging off or discarding what they do not. If it was elephants, wild orchids or bats I do not expect too many (sane) people would be saying that the reason ecologists are unhappy about it is because they are jealous that killing them is in their area of expertise. I think most (sane) people would realise that this would look rather like a total misunderstanding of the concerns (and areas of activity) of ecologists. Again, where is the PAS when nonsense like this again emerges in the community of their artefact-hunting "partners"?

Finally, I would contest the statement that "detectorists do good". I would ask the question whether instead the PAS (I assume that's what hides behind that glib comment) is a necessary evil required in the circumstances by what, archaeologically, would be an even greater one?

Do not rejoice, all you Philistines, 
that the rod that struck you is broken; 
from the root of that snake will spring up a viper, 
its fruit will be a darting, venomous serpent. 
Isaiah 14:29


No comments:

Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.