Thursday, 5 December 2013

Due to "Outreach" Someone Knows Exactly What he's Talking About...

Mark Carnall, 'Natural history under the hammer' UCL Museums and Collections Blog, 4 December 2013 is writing about fossil sales. Fossil collectors are doing a lot of damage to palaeontological hotspots and Dr Carnall sees a solution:
Again, looking to other museums provides guidance. The excellent, excellent Portable Antiquities Scheme is a solution to this exact problem in archaeology. There are thousands of amateur archaeologists, metal detectorists and collectors and the portable antiquities scheme is an easy way to encourage the wider archaeological community to register finds. They are given full credit for the discoveries, there’s a prestige associated with contributing to the scheme and their finds and data are almost instantly available to the wider sector. Quite why a similar scheme for fossil finds doesn’t exist is increasingly perplexing especially as the legislation and policing of the movement of fossil material, as the aforementioned Tarbosaurus auction highlighted,  is nowhere near as robust as it is with artworks and archaeological material
What the...? 

Interestingly, I got a link to this text from the tweeting of a PAS FLO ("An interesting view on the sale of Natural History specimens with some kind words for [PAS]"). Obviously, since she offers no corrections,  this woman (she's the one that utterly refused to answer my repeated questions on the Proculus coin last year) is happy for us to think that what is presented here is an accurate presentation of the organization for which she works. The rest of us know otherwise.

 I do not know what Dr Carnell THINKS is in that "legislation and policing", but whatever it is is simply wrong. There is about zero legislation, let alone policing of the UK antiquities market. It's as simple as that. I would have thought that, since UCL is within shouting distance of Russell Square, Dr C. could have found out a little more about the "excellent excellent" PAS. It is not a service for "collectors" as much as "finders", and those are for the most part these days not "amateur archaeologists" but artefact hunters. Show us that "prestige" for Bill Scruggins of the Croydon Seekers and Takers Metal Detecting Club  who reported his buckle last week. More to the point, show us where "Mr Bill Scruggins Esq., of Gasworks Villas, Croydon" gets any kind of "full credit" for his "discovery". All public PAS records are anonymous (as now is the UKDFD). Mr Scruggins gets no credit at all, and no prestige accrues to being an anonymous information donor. Rubbish, Dr Carnell, check your facts. Ask a FLO.

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