Saturday, 24 November 2012

Targeting Known Sites in a Partnership: You Find, we will Sell

The "ARCHI Database" has just sent its subscribers and users a revealing email about yet another partnership for UK artefact hunters: 
Many beautiful and historically significant coins and artefacts have been found and reported by archaeologists, field walkers and metal detectorists who have used the ARCHI database for their research.  The 155,000+ UK archaeological sites listed in the ARCHI database also contains links to maps and aerial photographs enabling you to [...] pinpoint the exact locations of the sites recorded in the database on the ground [...].The data within ARCHI has been sourced from a wide range of publications ranging from specialist books to the "mainstream" archaeological journals such as Britannia, Council for British Archaeology Reports etc. Additionally, data has been sourced from archaeological surveys published by various Local Historical / Archaeological Societies and Field Groups.
So, as can be seen this is a database of known "site locations" which can be targeted by those seeking "beautiful and historically significant coins and artefacts". Anyone still misled into thinking that the aim of "finding" them is for historical research will be surprised to learn "Archaeology UK" (the firm that runs this database):

have also teamed up with Time Line Auctions who have published their latest calendar of forthcoming Antiquities and Coins Auctions which we hope will also be of interest to you.

And what would "be of interest" to a bloke with a metal detector who, thanks to having a database showing where hundreds of thousands of known archaeological sites can be found, can go out and find his own artefacts to collect? Well, the answer comes from Timeline Auctions in the same email:
We are currently inviting entries for our next catalogue sales and eAuctions of Antiquities and Coins. Entries must be received by the date in table below.
we are buying... What a partnership, ARCHI trawls as much archaeological literature that it can get its paws on, extracts the data pinpointing likely 'productive' sites of interest to artefact hunters (euphemistically referred to as "amateur archaeologists with metal detectors"), the latter go out and find lots of  "beautiful and historically significant coins and artefacts" which they send off to the house in Upmister  which flogs them off with a lot of other stuff. Lots and lots of other stuff. I've discussed some of it on this blog.

So what kind of metal detectorist is going to take advantage of such a "partnership"? Is it responsible to target known sites, the location of which is extracted from archaeological reports, while at the same time artefact hunters REFUSE to allow publication of accurate findspot details of what they take from such sites? Is it responsible metal detecting to sell artefacts obtained in that manner alongside some of the other stuff that Timeline sells?

And its all legal and even does not contravene even the official "Code of practice for responsible Artefact Hunting in England and Wales" - but is it right, is it ethical? What do you think?

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