Sunday, 18 November 2012

Treasure Hunting, "Always Shallow, no Matter How Low Treasure Hunters can Sink.

Texas A and M University Department of Anthropology has produced a website: "intended for people fighting treasure hunters all over the world" The name of the author is not clear (probably Filipe Castro), but he proposes four ideas which I would like to put before the readers of this blog, some of them are quite thought-provoking seen in the context of other types of artefact hunting:
1. Treasure hunting has nothing to do with archaeology 
Archaeologists and treasure hunters cannot work together. Just as astronomers and astrologists cannot work together, or evolutionary biologists and creationists cannot work together. We do different things, we have different objectives, we use different methods, and we work under different ethical standards.
2. [...] treasure hunting is "The World's worse investment".
3. Treasure hunters destroy the world's cultural heritage forever 
If the objective of a [project] is profit, it is impossible to do good archaeology. [...] That is why treasure hunters must lie about what they do. That treasure hunters lie is not always obvious. Treasure hunters are often soft spoken persons, aristocrats with political connections and rich friends, and it is difficult to imagine what they actually do. But let us not fool ourselves.[...] 
4. Hiring archaeologists is just a marketing strategy 
Shame and political pressure are changing the way treasure hunters operate. Traditionally assuming their activity as purely profit seeking, treasure hunting companies are now trying to separate themselves from their land counterparts - pot hunters and grave robbers - and advertise themselves under euphemistic designations such as "commercial archaeologists". Without changing the way they operate, they are changing their image, stating their mission differently, hiring public relations specialists and archaeologists that do not mind lending their names to such ventures. Working for treasure hunters is against most professional ethical codes. But that is not all. Archaeologists working for treasure hunters cannot publicly assume their participation in the destructions they witness and must involve themselves in webs of lies, half-truths, and intentionally complicated situations, in which nobody ever understands who is in charge or when, in order to dilute their responsibility and move on, doing waht they do: renting their names to make possible the destruction of the Humanity's [...] cultural heritage.
It would be interesting to know whether Britain's Portable Antiquities Scheme or their "responsible" artefact hunting partners would endorse these propositions. I bet though we never get to hear the answer to that.

See also the same page's: Treasure Hunting: Frequently Asked Questions by Filipe Castro

I'd like to add to that an article not mentioned on the Texas page but on a similar theme:   Jerome Lynne Hall (2007), 'The Fig and The Spade: Countering the Deceptions of Treasure Hunters' AIA.

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