Friday, 7 March 2014

Lobbyist's "Red Herring" a Red Herring


[Sigh] Peter Tompa appends a comment to Andy Baines' post "David Knell and Paul Barford are missing the point" (Thursday, 6 March 2014) once again demonstrating - if more demonstration was required - that he is utterly incapable of understanding something as rocket-science like as gridded fieldwalking. Detectorist Baines had been wondering why taking material out of surface scatters could be considered as causing distortion of the evidence. I set out to attempt to explain it to people confused by this issue. I thought I'd presented it in a fairly understandable way (that was my intent) and Mr Baines had no further questions. I was underestimating the US trade lobbyist's inability to cope with Plain English and worth-a-thousand-words pictures. But then, my text was not written with such people in mind. Anyhow, "Cultural Property Observer" Tompa could not understand what it's all about, and appended a comment to Mr Baines' post to say so:
This is a red herring. Archaeologists don't record everything either; in fact the usual process is to excavate down to the juicy area (throwing out everything in the process) and then "meticulously recording." In places like Israel, this means blowing through hundreds of years of Ottoman and Byzantine history to get to the Classical levels. In places like Iraq by contrast, evidence of Jews has been regularly destroyed. 
The only red herring, Jewish or otherwise, is Mr Tompa's apparent confusion of the notion of surface survey with excavation. The clue is in the name, surface surveys consider what is on the surface, excavations are what you do when you excavate down into it, while standing building surveys are what archaeologists do standing up, or on ladders, while aerial survey requires being even higher. These are just a few of the modern techniques utilised by modern archaeology, and just as a standing building survey can be frustrated by someone driving a bulldozer, so a surface survey can be frustrated by someone stripping out the more diagnostic artefacts as collectables. On the sites Mr T. mentions, after ploughing, it is the upper levels, the ploughsoil, which will contain the evidence of the later periods (Byzantine, Ottoman, and Medieval Jewish), and surface survey is used all over the Near East

Vignette: I have long ago ceased to believe that Mr Tompa actually believes a word of what he writes as part of his paid lobbying. The guy is a menace to informed debate with his various deliberate misinterpretations and red herring arguments. 

13 comments:

Nathan Elkins said...

It has long been clear that Peter Tompa has know knowledge of archaeology or its practice. He often relies on dated anecdotes or makes stuff up, relying on the assumption that his audience takes his word for everything. He should come to the dig I work at in Israel, where an ancient synagogue with splendid mosaics is being excavated; just yards from that we are also carefully excavating and recording the Palestinian village that was abandoned in the 1940s with the foundation of Israel.

David Knell said...

"I have long ago ceased to believe that Mr Tompa actually believes a word of what he writes as part of his paid lobbying. The guy is a menace to informed debate with his various deliberate misinterpretations and red herring arguments."

Indeed ... which is why I seldom bother to reply to his contrived charades.

Cultural Property Observer said...

Mr. Barford as I've noted previously no one pays me for blogging and I certainly don't run anything by my clients before its posted. Since you keep on coming back to the same point, in the interests of transparency please explain to your readers if you have ever received any payments from UNESCO or some other cultural heritage organization for any work. My recollection is that you had something about UNESCO on your blog, but took it down from some reason.

For Mr. Elkins, your spelling is off as is your comment. What I said is based on discussions with an archaeologist who has excavated in Israel and the information about Iraq comes from a well known scholar. Are you suggesting this never happened?

Paul Barford said...

For Mr Tompa, I have indeed at various times been paid by UNESCO and other heritage organizations for quite a lot of hard work. It's I what I do.

I think there is a difference between a comment based on first hand experience from actually being part of this kind of work and those born of " discussions with an archaeologist (unnamed) [...] and a well known (but unnamed) scholar".

It is difficult to believe that the CPO blog has no relation to its author's paid lobbying.

Meanwhile Mr Tompa refuses to admit that his red herring argument was misinformation.

Ther, I've just made a spelling mistake. Oh dear.

Paul Barford said...

"Charades" David (and nathan).

I suppose it depends what you see as the point of our online activity.

I think we can see (e.g., from the responses to the agitation over the MOUs) that many collectors are pretty dumb, and take much of what their "gurus" say as unchallengable fact. The same for others approached by this or that sly-wording lobbyist.

I think we really should be putting out the information that sets their pro-trade pronouncements into a context, so that nobody can say it is not there.

This is all VERY time consuming and it is therefore frustrating however to see that one is vary rarely addressing real arguments made by knowledgeable people who've thought this through, but straw man provocations.

The dullard collectors however cannot tell the difference, ideally they'd be thinking these things through themselves and loudly rejecting the sillyness we read and hear. That they are not seems to me adequate reason to show the rest of the public just what kind of arguments the whole milieu uses as the basis and justification for their activities.

Ther, I made anoth spelling mistake, oh dear.

Cultural Property Observer said...

For Mr. Barford, thank you for acknowledging that you receive payments from UNESCO and other "cultural heritage organizations." Please confirm you have not received any payments in any fashion for working on your blog. I can assure you I've received nothing myself for the time I've put into my blog.

Also, if you receive any payments for the work on your blog, please indicate from whom.

Thank you.

Paul Barford said...

[sigh] we seem to be getting a long way from the topic of archaeological material in the ploughsoil...

I am not getting any payment for this blog, I am not a paid lobbyist. I am paid for producing texts of a somewhat different kind.

Cultural Property Observer said...

Thank you for that clarification.

Look at my blog for what Alex Joffe said were the fate of Jewish artifacts in Iraq as well as more recent information about the destruction of a tomb associated with Jewish heritage in that country.

I don't feel I can give the name of the archaeologist who spoke about practices in Israel, but the site was Caesaria.

Nathan Elkins said...

The point is, Tompa, that you paint exceptions, some true and some anecdotal, as rules and prevailing trends. That's what we call intellectually dishonest. Try a broader perspective for once.

David Knell said...

Paul, have you ever considered a career as a party whip? Yeah, I know. I'll try harder ... :)

Peter, you crack me up! Your McCarthy impersonation deserves an award!
http://ancient-heritage.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/are-you-now-or-were-you-ever.html

There's nothing like a spelling mistake to deflect attention from the real issue by attempting to damage the credibility of another poster. We can all mak them though. Oops! Look, I just made one too!

Cultural Property Observer said...

Hmm. "you paint exceptions, some true and some anecdotal, as rules and prevailing trends." But isn't what this blog and those of the rest of the archaeological blogosphere all about?

Paul Barford said...

" isn't what this blog and those of the rest of the archaeological blogosphere all about? "
No. I would no characterise it thus. The above is a good example, I was discussing a more general approach to surface evidence from my own experience and reading in the discipline. The anti-blogger (who has no direct experience as an archaeologist) presents what he's heard as the actual facts "Archaeologists don't record everything either; in fact the usual process is ...." mixing excavation with surface survey.

Anyway, can we get back to the topic of the post which was surface survey and how it is done and why?


heritageaction said...

Afore ye go -

"isn't what this blog and those of the rest of the archaeological blogosphere all about?"

And there's me thinking the main theme of the archaeological blogosphere was about private interest masquerading as public good and people pointing it out. Why else would there be harsh words?

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