Sunday, 20 January 2013

Metal Detecting Under the Microscope: Detectorist Advises Keeping Finds Quiet

Heritage Action continuing reading the writings of those "responsible" artefact collectors with metal detectors that their archaeological supporters in the UK somehow seem to miss ("Found something? Keep it quiet!"). One of the militant anti-archaeological lobby within the hobby advises his readers how to avoid “battles” (sic) with the authorities:
 “I hope most of you who visit here will refrain from sharing your finds online, especially the relics. Coins to me are no big deal, but it seems that whenever we post photos of relics we find ourselves battling city hall and the archaeological community. I and the majority of detectorists will always share items of historical interest and always make them known to the local community and/or museum. It’s the casual find that seems to garner the attention of our detractors, and it might behoove us to think twice before announcing them to the world….” 
Well, obviously - as far as UK legislation goes, any "battles" generated will only result if "city hall and the archaeological community" discover when they see them online that something that is being hoiked that should not be, or the sheer numbers of artefacts that are being removed from archaeological sites and assemblages and disappearing with no record mitigating the damage. So what this individual is advocating is to hide the evidence that the rosy picture painted by the pro-artefact hunting lobby is a one-sided and ultimately false picture. A further quote from the same source referring to what the rest of us see as social responsibility when exploiting a finite and fragile resource boggles the mind:
“I am also disappointed in those detectorists who continue to “grovel and beg” for acceptance into their [archaeologists'] small minded world. Then again if you find sticking flags in the ground to your liking, have at it…..”
It is difficult to square that with the glib statement that like "the majority of detectorists" (worldwide?) he "will always share items of historical interest and always make them known to the local community and/or museum" (local community OR the museum/archaeological authorities? What, in fact, does that mean and what good does it do to archaeological knowledge?).

Also worthy of note is what the writer of those words considers to be two different categories casual finds (of 'relics') and "items of historical interest". Are the latter relics taken from known archaeological and historical sites?

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