Monday, 28 July 2014

UK Metal Detecting: Reading Problems Compound Thinking Difficulties

My comments on the Macedonian antiquities convictions aroused interest among the airheads with metal detectors. As usual the "passinitly interestid in th' 'istry" mob seem unconcerned about any of the other issues raised here about the responsibilities of artefact hunting and artefact collecting (indeed, laughing about them). The moment mention is made of an archaeologist being mixed up in some dodgy dealings, then suddenly their ears prick up. One of them (from the camp totally oblivious to the nature of the issues are with thoughtless airheads hoiking artefects to collect), unreflexively writes on his blog: "we are painted with an extremely broad brush as bad guys by those in the ‘holier than thou’ enemy camp, yet when misdeeds like the following happen they are always labelled inaccurate, misconstrued, taken out of context or political in nature".  Another of the same ilk, calling himself supernova1c
guffaws that this made him laugh. He says he "found the article on the greedy archaeologist very interesting, you don’t hear them shouting about that!". The artefact hunters' favourite "two wrongs make a right" argument.

I wonder whether any of them had actually read the article properly, rather than the headline. You know reading, where you put words in a row and then understand them? If you follow through the articles about the case going back over a year (I doubt any of them even thought of doing that, even though the information is in the Internet a mouse-click away) they would have found that the archaeologist they are "laughing" about has been sentenced for giving permission for artefact hunting, for aiding artefact hunters like themselves. Whether out of "greed" or not is not recorded.

The point I was making in my earlier post is that although the permits (which I presume exist) bear his signature, the precise conditions under which they were issued may not be so clear. Note that the antiquities ring is reported as being run by his deputy in the office. I think one can see that there is a variety of possible scenarios from which the court could have chosen, for various reasons. That is the point I was making about the political context here.

In most eastern European countries you need a permit to conduct archaeological excavations. Without them, excavations are illegal. Yet artefact hunters cannot get these permits, because state legislation in these countries usually specifies out who can get them and what for. To issue such a permit to people who do not fit those definitions is illegal. This is the dilemma artefact hunters have in many parts of Europe. I have written about this a number of times on this blog in the past, Raimund Karl wrote about it in support of Austrian artefact hunters. Polish archaeologists complain they cannot legally work with metal detectorists because of this sort of legislation and suggest modifying it. Chortling airhead metal detector users in the English-speaking world however cannot strain their search-engine-using mouse-clicking fingers too much or read more than eight sentences at a time, so they prefer to remain permanently ignorant. Then they can play the victim when somebody points out they are exhibiting minimal intelligence in what they say about their hobby and its contexts. They like that, it's an undemanding role to play ("we are painted with an extremely broad brush as bad guys by those in the ‘holier than thou’ enemy camp"). It helps foster the them-us division which increase the "hobby solidarity" within which so many of them seem to find comfort and a personal identity.

To judge by the reports in the public domain, Macedonia's Kuzman "and other office employees in 2011 gave permission to third parties to dig in locations near the town of Delcevo and along the road from Skopje to Veles". The reports of the case indicate that he has been convicted of issuing artefact hunters  with excavation permits, allowing them to dig openly. The point is that Macedonian law does not have the possibility for him to do that, he has therefore been declared guilty by a court of an illegal activity and has been sentenced to three years in prison. For being "guilty of aiding a criminal ring to excavate and sell off valuable archaeological artifacts". Giving permission for artefact hunting, in the specific Macedonian context, has been adjudged "misuse of office".

I would have thought that metal detectorists capable of thinking would have adopted a somewhat different attitude to the jailing of an (old and sick - to boot) archaeologist whose crime was giving permissions to artefact hunters.  But no, I cannot see any evidence that thinking metal detectorists will be An archaeologist jailed for helping artefact hunters, ha ha, ROFL eh?"
taking that one up. Instead we see mindless airhead guffawing: "

 Vignette: 'Illiterate Britain: One in five adults struggling to read and write' and many take up metal detecting.

UPDATE 28th July 2014:
Despite the pointer given above that actually reading some primary sources might help understand matters a bit better than the stereotypical archie-bashing flabberjaw that in the world of airhead detecting passes for 'informed comment', we still find that the slow on the uptake have problems unentangling the written word. One of them has just accused Dr Kuzman of being "fit and well enough to organise a criminal gang of archaeologists and reap the rewards of his ill-gotten gains", despite the fact that the name of the smuggling gang's leader is given in the Macedonian press reports based on court records. I hope when the slandered individual comes out of prison, he deals with the libellous publication of Howland and Stout in a manner appropriate to the accusation.

UPDATE UPDATE 30th July 2014:

If exploring the issue further in English is beyond the cognitive capacities of metal detectorists intent on archie-bashing, then it's no use pointing them to a text written in French, I guess. For the rest of us, there is a text which gives some additional information about the case (Daniela Veljanovska, 'Trafic d’antiquités en Macédoine : trois ans de prison pour Pasko Kuzman', Le Courrier des Balkans (from Dnevnik - translated by Jaklina Naumovski)). The first concerns the nature of the permits Kuzman issued:
 L’accusation reposait sur des autorisations qu’aurait signé le directeur pour permettre à des « chercheurs » d’effectuer des fouilles dans les régions de Katlanovo à Delčevo. Le premier site, Dramski rid, était supposé abrité dans un tunnel une grande quantité d’armes que l’armée allemande aurait abandonné durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Le second site, à Katlanovo, était supposé abriter de l’or, [Nazi gold too?] pour une valeur de plusieurs millions d’euros. L’archéologue aurait outrepassé ses pouvoirs et permis des fouilles illégales avec l’espoir de découvrir un nouveau « trésor ». 
The newspaper also reflects on the possible political background to the conviction of Kuzman:
 Pasko Kuzman, personnage clé du projet Skopje 2014, fut soutenu et protégé pendant des années par le gouvernement conservateur du VMRO-DPMNE, mais il s’est retrouvé face à ses accusations, lâché par celles et ceux qui lui avaient donné carte blanche pour effectuer toutes les fouilles et mener tous les projets en rapport avec le patrimoine culturel du pays. Cependant, ses dernières prises de positions et critiques ouvertes contre le projet de « Las Vegas » à Ohrid, par l’investisseur indien Subrata Roy, ont-elles joué dans la balance de ce jugement ? La question reste sans réponse, mais le mutisme de la ministre de la Culture et d’autres soutiens habituels de l’archéologue incite à la réflexion. 

Kuzman reportedly came into conflict with these two,
Subrata Roy and the Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski

For Mr Roy, see a number of articles in the media, including:

Deana Kjuka, 'Dubai-Style Plans Emerge For Macedonia's Ohrid Area ' Radio Free Europe , 29th November, 2012,
Coilin O'Connor, Macedonian Heritage Site To Face UNESCO Probe', Balkan insight 27th August, 2013,
Sinisa Jakov Marusic, 'Indian Tycoon Throws Lavish Party in Macedonia', Balkan Insight 3rd Oct 13
Prasad Sanyal (ed.) 'Sahara chief Subrata Roy sent to Tihar Jail', 4th March 04, 2014
Xhelal Neziri, 'Macedonia believed Sahara chief was India’s return gift for Mother Teresa' The Indian Express, 21st March, 2014.
'Subrata Roy and his Love for Macedonia – the land of Mother Teresa and Alexander the Great… Where he plans to build Super Luxury Las Vegas…', Viewology, contrarian newzing, 21st March 2014 (with further links to sleaze).


kyri said...

hi paul,leaving the comments of the detectorists to one side i have read a few reports,
that seem to suggest that the macedonian authorities are also looking at thefts from the museums stores unrelated to the falanga case that he has been convicted for the "newbies" attack on the artifacts erosian counter didnt the pas themselves openly admit that they tell their flos to pick and choose what they record so the database is not swamped,with possibly %50 of reported finds not even recorded,never mind the thousands that go straight into private collections or auctions.

Paul Barford said...

Let me be quite clear, certain areas of Macedonian archaeology (not to mention some of the neighbouring areas) are a cause for concern. What I am saying is that we should not see what happened in wholly black and white terms - sorting out clouded issues is what this blog is all about.

Stuff is nicked from UK and US museums too. Does that make all archaeologists crooks? No.

With this as with the 'erosion counter" issue, artefact hunters are casting about wildly for excuses.

kyri said...

only an idiot would say because there is one or two bad apples "all archaeologists are crooks"one of the biggest thefts in recent times was from a us museum [a numismatic one at that]so not a "third world problem" at all. just wanted to say ,having listend to the rants of kuzman over the years i wouldnt put anything past and i know %99.9 of archaeologists are dedicated professionals that work very hard because they do love history and for very little for the metal detectorist using this story,i personally think you should take everything they say with a pinch of salt,sometimes i find it hard to believe they are not just saying things they know is poppycock[now there is a nice british word they may understand] just to wind you up.i recently read a post by dick stout where he published an letter from an old magazine written by henry cleere[CBA] about legislation proposed by archaeologists for an early version of a this piece john howland was quoted as saying "this bill will bring about the end of metal detecting" and than he went on to say "the bill smacks of eastern european politics" [he is still using this line now 40 yrs down the line.i was gobsmacked when i read this,john h is the biggest supporter of the PAS out there but hear he was fighting tooth and nail to try and stop it getting off the he is actively trying to export this "eastern european bill"to the us of all places.mind you it did bring a wry smile to my face.some people just never change.they have to be confrontational,even if its for the best in the long run.its sad really.

M Der said...

I have a funny feeling we are going to read more and more about thieving archaeologists.
The truth is starting to reveal who the real black market culprits are.
An archaeologist, Shinichi Fujimura, was caught planting his “discoveries” the day before he and his crew would find them.
I suppose at the end of the day why take a chance having anything to do with archaeologists.
Most archaeologists live in a hypothetical world ...bit like kids with barbie dolls and every bit as bitchy.
Who can prove or disprove them? I stopped believing them a long time ago to be honest i think most of them just bums with a cheap college degree...
Did you ever talk to people who have a degree in art? same thing just a useless waste of space.
I think when we were out doing real jobs the archaeologists were still looking at the post and wondering which end to pee in.

Paul Barford said...

Yes, if archaeologists are involved in the black market in antiquities, this blog is where you'll hear about it first. It's metal detectorists that try to cover up for each other like a bunch of twelve-year olds.

Shinichi Fujimura is an amateur wannabe - like many detectorists - neither are archaeologists. Who knows how many other artefact hunters are saying stuff they find is from somewhere else than its real findspot - we have quite a few examples of planted finds reaching the PAS and being spotted - how many do they miss through trusting tekkies too much?

Mr Der, do you have degree in anything? In what? Or do you just have a scapular chip?

Paul Barford said...

Mr/Ms Der confirm they lack any degree of formal education, ("i (sic) have a degree in life specializing in reality").

They obviously however are lacking in life skills enough to realise that insulting a blog's host in an off-topic post lacking any substantive points is not a good way to get their comment posted.

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