Wednesday, 26 March 2014

National Geographic use metal detectors, find new low

Metal detectorists are over the moon, more hoiking on international TV. There is now a website with a video and biographies of three team members which seems to be part of the proposed programme launch, the best that may be said is that the selection of the video and the photo gallery shows absolutely no sensitivity to the issues concerned and does not really create a very positive picture. The video raises many questions which are not addressed on the website. On seeing it, Sam Hardy, like myself thinks that  "NatGeo's Nazi War Diggers have urgent ethical and legal questions to answer" and writes about them in a wonderfully-titled, strongly-worded and thought-provoking article on the Conflict Archaeology blog ('National Geographic use metal detectors, find new low', March 26, 2014 )
In what may be the most grotesque Third Reich-themed “edutainment”/”infotainment” show yet, National Geographic Channels International and ClearStory have filmed Nazi War Diggers. It is not about sappers. In this programme, you can watch metal-detecting antiquities dealers perform ‘human bone removal’ – ‘hunt for relics and bodies’, the ‘remains of soldiers from both sides’.
"This arm bone's big" duh... Human remains specialists
not in evidence on site, proper technique and documentation
neither. Shame on you National Geographic, shame
  on you me'al detectrists (edited screenshot from NatGeo
"watch Nazi War Diggers videos online" video)
They claim that they are ‘racing against time to save this history from being looted or lost’ from the Nazi-Soviet battlefield on the Courland Peninsula in Latvia and elsewhere on the Eastern Front. But this claim  is belied by what we find on the National Geographic website, and the video is particularly telling:
Selling Nazi antiquities for loadsamoney
If you think Paul Barford is unduly worried, History Hunter Military Antiques dealer Gottlieb has declared on National Geographic that, ‘by selling things that are Nazi related and for lots of money, I’m preserving a part of history that museums don’t want to bother with’. [...].
Evidence of legal and ethical conduct?
What is the difference between looters and National Geographic’s relic… rescuers? As Barford says (though he shouldn’t need to say it because NatGeoTV is supposed to be an educational channel), National Geographic (and/or its team) urgently need to provide ‘a copy of the search[/excavation] permits‘, and to explain what is being done with the human remains (and historic artefacts) that their ‘talent’ are pulling out of their resting places.
If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging…
And they are literally pulling stuff out of the ground. The seemingly unsupervised non-professionals, who don’t know the difference between an arm and a leg, dig big holes (without control, sampling or recording), then wiggle and yank bones out one-by-one with their gloved hands (rather than scientifically exposing and documenting the skeletons in position). [...].
Basically, the exhumation of a fallen soldier (or were there the remains of more than one in that hole?) by a hoik hole (where are those archaeologists in evidence in this video?) looks no better than the hole the friend of one of the metal detectorists we see hoiking away in the Near Maidstone A20 Anglo-Saxon grave (where the FLO apparently told them they were "doing well"). I doubt whether any archaeologist in central Europe seeing that video will say that was "well done". The commentary is not much "bet'a, gorr blimey".

Also, I have not seen it anywhere explained why yesterday on a metal detecting forum, we read:
I am both extremely excited and ecstatically happy to be able to finally reveal a secret myself and addictedtobleeps have kept for nearly a year now. It's been killing us! This time last year we became involved in a new TV project. [...]
Why, if this was a legitimate project, legal and above-board and being carried out openly with the aid and support of the Latvian authorities, was there any need to keep this any kind of a secret

1 comment:

Detectorbloke said...

Interesting, have posted a thread on my blog about it.

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